It was a normal day on my Facebook feed yesterday until I saw that an old acquaintance from high school had posted this article quoting JK Rowling saying that she was 75% done with an eighth Harry Potter novel.
Begin instant fan-girl freak out immediately.
I scrolled right past the April 1, 2013 date at the top of the story. Began clapping my hands eagerly at “more details to come during Rowling’s press conference in Scotland” and was already tweeting “PLEASE LET IT BE MARAUDERS! #HP8 #LETITBETRUE” before I got to Daniel Radcliffe’s alleged statement that he was itching to get back into the Potter world. Honestly, that’s when I should have known something was up. I have basically been cyber stalking Dan since I saw Kill Your Darlings. I’ve seen every interview he’s done over the past three months and if one thing has been clear it has been his desire to establish himself as an actor outside of the Potter universe. (However, there is so much to be explored in the wizarding world outside of Harry. Like I said, MARAUDERS. NOW. PLEASE.)
I was in the middle of leaving my mother a voicemail that I would need my Hufflepuff (and proud) scarf express mailed to Los Angeles – not to worry that it was 91 degrees last week, fandom trumps comfort in every instance – when my friend and trusted Potter expert Terri Schwartz tweeted this helpful (and soul crushing) article from MuggleNet (the internet’s most trusted HP source). Their points were so accurate. I finally noticed that date. Daniel would never be interested in reclaiming his Potter title. Why would such an obscure website have such a hot story? More importantly, why would they be so cruel to play with our emotions that way? It’s November, not April! How dare they!
Begrudgingly, I closed my make-your-own-wand tutorial and began to sulk.
The Intent theme this week has been fantasies, and to be invited back to the Wizarding World for one more adventure probably tops the list of mine. Every birthday I still naively wish for my letter for Hogwarts to arrive. You know, maybe they have a late bloomer night-college for adults campus or something. I started reading these books when I was 10 years old – I am now 24. What is it about Hogwarts that still has me (and millions of others) still captivated a decade and a half later?
It’s more than the fact that magic and flying broomsticks are awesome. Harry Potter taught kids like me, and people the world over, that under dogs can surmount any obstacle as long as they have integrity, faith in their friends, and the belief in themselves and their own intelligence over shortcuts and darkness. Harry Potter taught us to reach for the light. For seven books and eight movies we were able to travel to a magical world where we could all be heroes. Two professors from the University of Vermont published a book earlier this year on the political impact the Harry Potter series has had on millennials. In a national survey they found that young people that grew up reading the books tend be more open to diversity; politically tolerant; less authoritarian; less likely to support the use of deadly force or torture; and more politically active. Harry Potter has fulfilled its role as the ultimate fantasy for the current generation – it provides us with an encompassing escape and returns us to the real world with a desire and motivation to be better than we already are.
“The stories we love the most will always live within us,” JK Rowling said at the premiere of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, “so whether you return by page or by screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” You may not be writing another book right now, Jo, but we’ll eagerly accept the invitation back any time.