The Wizarding World Has Joined TikTok
The popular social media platform, TikTok, serves a multitude of audiences; logging onto the app, a user might find videos of Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae dancing, a tutorial on how to make homemade pasta, a Vine-style comedy clip, or a man cosplaying as Willy Wonka all depending on their personalized algorithm. A new phenomenon is breaking on the app right now, though: a resurgence in the Harry Potter fandom.
What was once a niche corner of the platform has now become a major trend; the hashtag #HarryPotter currently has 17.7 billion views on the app, with #DracoMalfoy at 6.8 billion, and #Hogwarts at 4.4. There are now verified accounts of users whose sole focus is all things, Harry Potter. And yes, I do follow a lot of them (@starkkates is my personal favorite.)
While many accounts are adhering to the normal activities of a fandom (obsessing over the attractive characters, writing fanfiction, analyzing the books for hidden messages and meanings), a new frontier has emerged relatively recently. Using the editing tools of TikTok and the app’s greenscreen feature, users have been able to insert themselves into scenes in the HP movies and act with the Great Hall or Gryffindor Common Room as their backdrops. This unique form of editing has allowed fanfiction stories to take on a non-two-dimensional life, and the results truly look believable.
What I appreciate most about this new TikTok fandom is the inclusivity it promotes in its rejection of JK Rowling. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter series, has made openly transphobic comments and not apologized for them, leaving her LGBTQ+ fans feeling excluded from the magic of these stories. Rowling’s new book features a murderer cross-dresser and shares similar transphobic and homophobic connotations.
This TikTok fandom has made abundantly clear that they do not accept JK Rowling or her beliefs. In fact, many popular creators have used their platforms to shed light on problematic aspects of the books. Users were quick to call out the hidden anti-Semitism behind the goblin characters who work at Gringotts bank, and the potential racism behind the characters of Kingsley Shaklebolt, Cho Chang, and the Patil sisters. Each of these minority characters have minimal features in the books and often play into the stereotypes of their races and religions. It is also just absolutely ridiculous that all of the featured characters–of which there are probably fifty–are white, cis-gender, and straight.
As a result of this push for inclusivity, I have seen users write themselves into the books as trans, non-binary, or gay students at Hogwarts, or rewrite the books themselves with beloved characters portrayed as another race, gender, and/or sexuality. This fandom has chosen to capitalize on the more important messages behind the books: love, respect, friendship, and the advantages of being different.
As a diehard Harry Potter fan myself, this new fandom has provided my friends and I with so much joy and laughter. In these uncertain times, it has been so comforting to return to a series that I loved so much as a younger kid. Having grown up on these books, I can think of no place better to escape to during these times than inside the magical (and now more inclusive) walls of Hogwarts.