Arts & Culture

The Big Jewcy: Andrew Slack, The Harry Potter Alliance

Can Harry Potter be used for good beyond fighting the Dark Arts?  Of course he can!  And through his organization, The Harry Potter Alliance, Andrew Slack is going to prove it. How did you come up with the idea to … Read More

By / June 14, 2010

Can Harry Potter be used for good beyond fighting the Dark Arts?  Of course he can!  And through his organization, The Harry Potter Alliance, Andrew Slack is going to prove it.

How did you come up with the idea to form the Harry Potter Alliance?

The same way Doc Brown came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor: by hitting my head on the sink while standing on a toilet to hang a clock. Well, in truth it was because I believed in the power of stories to renew the spirit of our lives and the spirit of our world. They inspire us like nothing else. Harry Potter in particularly has a tremendous amount of parallels to our world, including a student activist group called "Dumbledore’s Army." I believed that we could use these parallels to inspire Harry Potter fans the world over to be the heroes we’ve wished to be since reading Harry Potter by joining a "Dumbledore’s Army" for our world. I believed that the idea could be a way to honor the message of these treasured books while addressing the world’s most pressing issues around human rights, equality, and ecological sustainability. Are you a huge fan of Harry Potter?  Did you ever attend any midnight releases of the books or movies?

When we were together, my ex-girl friend wrote a song called, "My boyfriend thinks he’s Harry Potter. Thinks his crooked glasses make him hotter." So yes, not only did I attend midnight release parties but on the final one, I had the privilege to emcee a Harry and the Potters concert to close to 20,000 people in Harvard Yard. On the night of the most recent Harry Potter movie, I co-led an effort where thousands and thousands of fans went to theaters wearing name tags that spoke of life lessons that Dumbledore taught them. Back when I worked in a cubicle in 2003, it was covered in nothing but news stories about Harry Potter. My Harry Potter parodies "Harry Potter and the Dark Lord WaldeMart" have been seen over 2.5 million times on Youtube. I speak regularly at Harry Potter as well as activist/new media conferences, schools, and live web casts. Also, every single day I work my tuchus off for an organization I started called the Harry Potter Alliance where we try to make Harry Potter real by fighting the Dark Arts in our world. So I’m not as big a fan of Harry Potter as say, JK Rowling, but I’m pretty up there. :-) Why do you think Harry Potter has had such a huge impact on culture?

The message of the Harry Potter series is that love and friendship carry with them a magic that will outlive and dismantle societies greatest challenges gives us a feeling of hope and a path to walk forward on as we approach a world whose problems often feel too overwhelming to even engage in. While our "Muggle Minded" culture tells us to substitute our feelings around our relatiionships and our global crises with obsessions with power, Harry Pottter reminds us that true power is found in our vulnerability – in allowing our hearts to open, even or especially when it hurts, and to trust the power of our souls. This message is delivered in a heroes journey that we can identifity with while at the same time being suspenseful and mysterious, mirthful and heartwarming, and playful and funny. Do you think any of the Harry Potter characters could be Jewish?

Absolutely. JK Rowling wrote Anthony Goldstein as one of the students at Hogwarts – there’s even Wizard Rock songs about his Channuakh experience while all the other Hogwarts kids celebrate Christmas. Also while the Christ symbolism in Harry Potter is profound, there’s been a lot that has been written about Harry Potter as a Jewish allegory with Wizards living amongst Muggles and fearing persecution. Further, within the Wizarding World there’s other allegories with Muggleborns being outsiders who become in intense danger from Voldemort, who JK Rowling says was modeled after Hitler as he literally begins rounding up Muggleborns while an anti-fascist movement rises up to bring him down. You are a member of the inaugural class of The Big Jewcy, what does being named to this class mean to you?

I feel like I can finally show my grandparents that my not going to grad school was not a total waste. And even more importantly, it really makes my circumsion feel like it was worh it. I feel selfish not mentioning or thanking my extraordinary good looks and neurotic personality fueled by 5,000 years of feelings of guilt and obligation that have been infused in my DNA.  And on an even more personal level, I feel touched and flattered by this.