What the End of ‘Potter’ Means to Fans: A Retrospective

Celebuzz has invited Melissa Anelli, best-selling author of ‘Harry, A History’ and webmaster of the insanely popular Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron, to look back on the Harry Potter series partially comes to an end today as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is released. There’s no better expert out there than Melissa to take a step back and reflect on the series that has changed so many lives, so now we’ll turn it over to her:

This summer, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II debuts in theaters, it will be about four years – almost to the day – that we first cracked the spine of the book. I and about 2500 of my fellows will be in Florida at LeakyCon 2011, the conference we’re throwing in celebration, watching and hugging and crying together as we experience yet another ending in the roller coaster experience that calls itself the Harry Potter phenomenon.

But as any fan who’s been around since at least 2006 will tell you, endings in the Harry Potter world are tricky things. They don’t happen the way you expect them to, and sometimes don’t happen at all. As we celebrate the release of the first of the final two movies – the first half of the epic final chapter – we are asked all the same questions we were asked ad nauseam in 2007. What will you do when it’s over? How will you pick up your lives? Isn’t this the end of the Harry Potter phenomenon?

It’s hard to overestimate how impossible this question is to answer. We all braced for it in 2007: the inevitable drop off, the lull, the slow wearing away and disappearing of friendships we once swore would last forever.

It never happened.

There may not be as much constant news coverage; there may not be as many random passersby to web sites or listeners to podcasts, but the fandom, the living and breathing organism of the Harry Potter community, is not going anywhere. It is simply maturing. These days a lot of our activity centers around the Harry Potter Alliance, a group that was just beginning to get its bearings when the final book came out, but now has started to grow into a full-fledged charity organization that is growing to scale, from a small band of fervent Harry Potter fans to a real-world grassroots movement. Last January we raised $123,000 to send five DC10 planes full of essential supplies and equipment to aid the Haiti relief efforts. (Full disclosure: I proudly serve on the board of directors of the HP Alliance.) There’s just as much, if not more, wizard rock – there’s just as much, if not more, fan fiction. We are still podcasting and discussing and playing games and having gatherings and, most importantly, making friendships and connections through the common love of something beautiful.

We’ve learned, these days, that to believe that the Harry Potter fandom will end is to give it less credit than it has shown us it should have. We’ve learned that what we built from the mid-1990s to now is far too strong not to outlast the thrashing of time.

So, as the next “ending” comes for Harry Potter fans, we who know better will view it as it should be seen: a time for us to be grateful at what we have shared, grateful we have each other, and celebratory of what The Boy Who Lived has given to all of our lives.

To buy Melissa’s book, ‘Harry, A History,’ Click Here!

Tags: Harry Potter