The Wizarding “Woke,” ‘Harry Potter’ Franchise Faces Triggering Viral Failure

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Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) grinning in front of a crowd of Death Eaters in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2'

Credit: Warner Bros.

The Harry Potter franchise has sparked debate online again following the latest viral news surrounding the Wizarding World.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has heavily impacted the lives of fans for over 20 years since the premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001 — a quarter century if you’re counting since the American release of the first book in 1998, breaking records for a children’s book by an author unknown at the time.

Harry Potter holding his wand for the first time
Credit: Warner Bros.

The franchise has since inspired eight movies, seven books, a theatrical play (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), two prequel franchises, multiple traveling experiences, and even several immersive lands at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Orlando Resort, and Universal theme parks around the world — with Universal Studios Japan taking a massive leap ahead of its international counterparts.

However, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has also stirred more than cauldrons, as millions of fans worldwide have been disappointed by the author, J.K. Rowling, and her hateful stance against members of the LGBTQIA+ community, publicly stating that she would “happily” go to prison over her anti-trans activism and wrongfully equating trans women to rapists.

Additionally, multiple experiences inspired by the decades-old franchise have caused outrage online, with fans demanding their immediate closure and deeming them “a waste of money.”

JK Rowling visits the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan
Credit: Universal Studios Japan

Related: Rowling Compares Trans People to “Death Eaters,” Admits She Knew Potter Fans Would Turn Against Her 

However, the latest installment inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has been perhaps the most divisive, causing several attempts to boycott the project and stirring heated debate online.

Hogwarts Legacy, a video game developed by Avalanche Software, divided fans of the Wizarding World, as despite millions worldwide being eager to step into the fantastic world of the franchise, thousands of former fans and activists criticized the game’s anti-semitic undertones and insulting LGBTQIA+ representation.

This caused many core Harry Potter cast members to turn against Rowling, including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and known feminist activist Emma Watson. Additionally, British-American actress Katherine Waterston was punished for condemning Rowling’s transphobic comments, seeing the screentime of her character, Porpentina Goldstein, be drastically cut off after being the co-lead in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

Newt Scamander looking for the Niffler in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'
Credit: Warner Bros.

Despite the significant backlash the video game received, Hogwarts Legacy had a smashing success, burying its predecessor, the Fantastic Beasts franchise, in the minds of fans and achieving the milestone of becoming the best-selling video game of 2023.

However, Hogwarts Legacy has once again caused outrage among fans and sparked polarized opinions about the game.

The nominees for this year’s Game Awards were announced on Monday, November 14, with games like Spider-Man 2, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Baldur’s Gate 3, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder among the top titles.

Miles Morales looking surprised at Peter Parker on a New York City roof top
Credit: Insomniac Games

Surprisingly, Hogwarts Legacy did not receive a single mention in this year’s nominees despite its success, stirring debate and causing polarized opinions among fans and activists.

Many applauded the fact that the video game had not received any nominations given the historical controversy surrounding Hogwarts Legacy — and the Harry Potter franchise in general — due to its association with J.K. Rowling and the author’s hateful stance and comments, despite Avalanche Software’s efforts to bridge the massive gap the British writer created.

As we have seen with multiple projects and the ongoing political and legal battle between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company, we are living in times when nearly every attempt to promote inclusion, diversity, and equity is almost immediately judged as “woke” and satanized by netizens, igniting hateful debates and tug-wars that have reached national media outlets, accusing companies of “pushing woke garbage in our faces.”

Phineas Nigellus Black in Hogwarts Legacy
Credit: Warner Bros.

But is it true that the latest installment in the Wizarding World was the most recent victim of the “woke” movement? A report quickly addressed that Hogwarts Legacy had not been snubbed by The Game Awards for “woke” reasons, arguing that if the video game industry truly cared about the social issues that triggered polarized opinions surrounding the game, it would not have been released in the first place.

While Hogwarts Legacy has had an extraordinary performance in sales and introduced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter onto open-world video games, the report pointed out that the game needed to be “better than fine” to compete with this year’s Game Award nominees, as it had “a dreadfully dull story that failed to have anything unique to say.”

Hogwarts Legacy Harry Potter game Sirona Ryans at the Three Broomsticks
Credit: Warner Bros.

Despite the game earning a shameful spot under the social spotlight and a less-than-magical one according to critics, given its lack of nominations for this year’s Game Awards, Hogwarts Legacy has proven that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains relevant despite the ongoing controversy, with rumors of a sequel to the divisive video game in the works surfacing.

Have you played Hogwarts Legacy? What do you think about the divisive video game inspired by the Harry Potter franchise? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!

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