Can Harry Potter save the world?
Are you a 'Harry Potter' fan? How about 'Lord of the Rings'? 'Twilight'? Activism groups are targeting fantasy world fans like you.
Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 14:04
A new kind of political activism is emerging. Activist groups like the Harry Potter Alliance are gathering fans of popular fantasy worlds, and encouraging them to become aware of current political issues. By taking real world issues and relating them to underlying political themes in sagas such as "Harry Potter," "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings," this new type of activism can reach millions of fans who might otherwise not be interested in taking political stances.
An underlying theme throughout the Harry Potter series is genocide. Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard in the history of magic, wants to take over the wizard world and rid it of "mudbloods" (a derogatory term for a wizard who is part-wizard, part-normal human; they are not "pure" wizards). An activist group like the Harry Potter Alliance can relate this theme to the real life issue of genocide and violence in many third world countries. Lots of "Harry Potter" fans who wouldn't otherwise be looking for political issues to involve themselves in, but they become engaged in issues they already feel strongly about because they care deeply about that issue in the "Harry Potter" series.
Another more blatant fantasy-world-issue-made-real-world-issue can be found in the hit movie "Avatar." The bad guys are the humans, trying to kill off the native population of a planet, so that they can gain control of the planet's natural resources. Not only do the humans plan to kill the "alien" natives, but they have no remorse about selfishly destroying the environment. Sound like any current issues in the real world?
These activist groups are smartly bringing awareness to a whole new group of people, and mobilizing them to make a difference in the world. And they don't just become politically engaged enough to don a "Republicans for Voldemort" T-shirt. The Harry Potter Alliance was able to raise large amounts of money to help send medical supplies to Haiti, and donate books to children around the world.
The HP Alliance is currently working on something called the Deathly Hollows Campaign where members ask Harry Potter fans to join them in destroying seven real world horcruxes. The first real world horcrux on the list involves asking Time Warner to use fair trade chocolate for all of its Harry Potter chocolate merchandise.
Personally, I've always been a fan of the "Harry Potter" series, and I love the idea that the series, and other fantasy stories like it, can continue to influence people around the world by getting them to support positive change, especially when it comes to countering our creeping climate problems. I guess this will give me another thing to think about while I wait in line tomorrow night to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
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