Mischief Managed:
Our Unscientific Obsession With Harry Potter

The Harry Potter franchise has taken the world by storm. The series has captivated fans and inspired music, art, and even virtual realities that are based on this magical world. Harry Potter has been woven into the fabric of popular culture and there are no signs pointing to it disappearing any time soon.

While there is no denying the power that has been brought from this fandom’s popularity, one can’t help but wonder why we are so obsessed with this series. Sure, there is the draw of magic and mythical creatures and fighting off evil with the pure power of goodness. However, the world that we live in today is one of scientific truth and reality. As a society, we pride ourselves on our advancement from previous cultures and the knowledge we have gained from this progression. Humanity has come a long way from a time when magic, witches, and warlocks were considered a logical figment of reality. Given this fact, it should be known that a place like Hogwarts could never actually exist. Nevertheless, this enormous obsession with this fictional world still holds strong and gains new interests every day.

The volume of the Harry Potter fandom is incredibly vast. There are book clubs, online wizarding classes, official quidditch teams and tournaments, charity organizations, and many others that are too numerous to list. This series has gone from a simple form of entertainment to, as some would say, an entire way of life. The HP fandom goes beyond the books and the movies and has expanded into trinkets of everyday life such as cookbooks, universal wand remotes, and even breakdowns of spells and magic usage.

Obviously, we are able to recognize that this is a very popular form of fantasy. The question then becomes, how is such an enormous form of unscientific entertainment able to gain this much positive attention? Aside from the entrancing abilities of magic, I believe that the reason the Harry Potter series has become so popular and engrained in our society is because it is able to connect with us on the most basic level of childish wonder.

Through the progressive stories and adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, readers are able to find connections with certain traits and characteristics. On the surface, this can be said about nearly any other fantasy series. But what differentiates this series from others is how well the franchise was handled. Both the books and the movies portrayed this magical world in an incredibly realistic light. In the books, we were able to imagine the Forbidden Forest, the Yule Ball, and the wondrous power of a Patronus charm thanks to the great writings of J.K Rowling. The movies made it possible to bring all of these magical things to life.

The struggles of the characters and the glimmer of magic clicked with readers in a way that was encapsulating. The reason that the Harry Potter universe is able to engulf fans so easily is because deep down, I think that we all want to believe that something that fantastical can exist. The child inside all of us clings to this idea of hippogriffs and wands and defeating evil wizards with the power of love and friendship. Realistically, we understand that, in our world of scientific truth, this place of monster books and wizarding scholars cannot logically exist. The childish hope that still resides in us does not factor this logic into the mix though. It’s not going to matter how many studies or reports or important knowledgeable people tell us that magic and the likes aren’t real. As long as that little part of childish hope resides in us, the facts don’t matter.

I think that this is one of the most interesting facets of science and popular culture-- the fact that despite knowing the blatant inaccuracy of this world, we are so willing to accept it. The power of childish wonder is able to stare reality in the face and push it aside while casting a Patronus charm. The light of this childish hope and wonder will destroy the darkness of big, bad, adult reality. I think that it's incredibly fascinating that this dichotomy can exist-- that one can have the knowledge to know that something is scientifically impossible yet is still able to hold on to that small piece of hope. After all, what's the fun of reality and adulthood if you aren't able to indulge in childish wonders every now and again?