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Has the World Outgrown Harry Potter?

Books & Writing

Sun, January 28

Harry Potter is easily one of the most well-known book series in the world. More than six hundred million book copies have been sold worldwide and thousands of people credit the series as the books that turned them into readers. Five years ago, it was difficult to go out on Halloween or step into a school on World Book Day, and not see at least a dozen children wearing robes and sporting lightning-bolt scars on their foreheads.

However, in the past few years, the once-adored series has taken a nose-dive in popularity. The number of Instagram users with their Hogwarts house in their bio is dropping, and even Buzzfeed seems to be churning out fewer Harry Potter-related quizzes. The question, therefore, arises: why does the world seem to be losing interest in the Harry Potter series?

Image Credit: Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash

Difficulty Separating the Art from the Artist

A central reason for the decline in Harry Potter's popularity, particularly among millennial and Gen Z readers, is the controversies surrounding its author.

In the last few years, J. K. Rowling has received heavy backlash for her comments regarding transgender people.

The controversy began in 2017 when Rowling liked a tweet of an article that referred to a transgender woman in a derogatory manner. In the years since, Rowling has become increasingly vocal about her transphobia, going so far as to tweet transphobic comments herself. For example, in 2020, she mockingly tweeted: "'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" And, as recently as October, Rowling tweeted an image of a message projected on a wall reading 'repeat after us: trans women are women' accompanied by a simple caption: "No."

Rowling's controversial actions make it difficult for many previously passionate Potterheads to connect with the series they once loved. Many have decided that the best thing to do is move on to other books with less problematic authors.

Image Credit: Executive Office of the President from Wikimedia Commons

Questionable Writing

Another frequently cited reason for why people are stepping away from the Harry Potter series is due to issues with the books themselves. As time goes on, people are spotting an increasing number of plot holes.

To name just a few: why didn't Dumbledore use a time-turner when Lily and James Potter died and bring them back to life? How did Fred and George Weasley never notice Peter Pettigrew sleeping in Ron's dorm despite having the Marauder's Map? Why didn't Harry take liquid luck before going to kill Voldemort?

Unfortunately, Rowling's writing's issues go deeper than plot holes. Some people find Rowling's naming of characters to be lazy, verging on offensive. One TikTok user made a video pointing out instances of Rowling's questionable naming of characters. For instance, the user pointed out that the series's only East Asian character is named 'Cho Chang' while 'Kingsley Shacklebolt' is the name of one of the few Black characters. The video received over one million likes, indicating just how popular the view that Rowling's writing isn't up to scratch.

Failure to Stand the Test of Time

The series fails to stand the test of time for many young adults. Other middle school series, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Percy Jackson, appear more timeless. Indeed, the first episode of Disney's new Percy Jackson and the Olympian series succeeded in becoming one of Disney's top five most-watched season premieres of 2023 and was watched by young and old fans alike.

On the other hand, Harry Potter has become somewhat of an internet joke amongst social media users. The Potter series is rapidly becoming associated with a bygone - slightly cringey - era.

"FFS, fellow millennials," posts one Twitter user. "Take your Hogwarts house out of your Twitter bio. We don't do that anymore."

Another tweeted, "I suddenly get why baby boomers hate millennials when I see people in their forties talking about what Hogwarts house they're from."

Once, liking the Harry Potter series was enough to make you one of the cool kids. However, today's young adults appear decidedly less impressed by those who wear being a Potter-head as a badge of honor.

Image Credit: Becca Tapert from Unsplash

Conclusion

Of course, this is not to say that the Harry Potter series has entirely vanished into obscurity. It is difficult for the popularity of a world-famous series like Harry Potter to disappear overnight. The series still has many die-hard fans and is widely read all over the world.

Indeed, in 2023, BBC Culture polled book experts from over fifty countries to determine the greatest children's books ever. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was ranked 13 out of 100 books. Additionally, a highly anticipated Harry Potter television series produced by Max is set to be released around 2025. Hence, it is clear that the series continues to wield at least some popularity.

And yet, while it's unlikely the series will ever entirely fade from the glow of pop culture, there are signs of its decreasing popularity. The Fantastic Beasts spin-off prequel series was supposed to consist of five films but was canceled after the third film, The Secrets of Dumbledore, was received poorly. Furthermore, many people are pledging to boycott the upcoming Harry Potter television series due to Rowling's heavy involvement in its making.

Ultimately, the Harry Potter series seems to continue to be popular among children. However, an increasing number of older generations—especially millennial and Gen Z readers—are bidding farewell to the once-beloved series. So, while the world may not yet have outgrown the Harry Potter series, it certainly seems to be heading in that direction one day.

Image Credit: Alicia Christin Gerald from Unsplash

Areesha Ahmed
10k+ pageviews

Writer since Feb, 2023 · 17 published articles

Areesha is a student from London. She enjoys watching horror films and drinking tea. When she is not reading books, she is buying them.

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