We Are Wizards was a super interesting, and free, movie that brings a lot of questions about the internet, intellectual property, and fan culture to a head.
So let’s begin by talking about the interwebz. The internet has changed the way we consume media in a lot of different ways, but for starters, we no longer have to be holding a book, or be sitting in front of a television in order to access media content. With the internet, media is now accessible from anywhere – using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop – almost instantly. We’re able to connect with people, in our own communities or worlds away, to talk about shared interests on sites that are designated for that very purpose. We can explore, share, and create content more readily and easily than ever before, and with an audience that is ready to watch it.
The internet has become a threat, though, to media giants like Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers is a corporate machine reliant upon us, the consumers, to feed it with our money and minds, so that it continues to grow bigger and more powerful, and consequently make more products. Our wallets and willingness to consume what they make is what gives these entities the money and power that they hold dear. However, Warner Brothers bit the hand that fed them when they began punishing their customers via legal action for heavily participating in fan culture. Warner Brothers consumers became so immersed in their Harry Potter product that they began creating their own media inspired by their fandom. When this fan created media began gaining traction and popularity, Warner Brothers wanted in on the action. They wanted to exploit their fans enthusiasm and creativity for their own benefit. However, Harry Potter fans weren’t going to take it sitting down. They got together using the internet, and decided to stick it to Warner Brothers by boycotting their Harry Potter products. In this, the fans showed Warner Brothers that their corporation simply cannot exist without the fans and their money. Warner Brothers backed off, and the fans were able to carry on with their creative digital media endeavors.
This movie showed that fan culture has changed in a real and rich way. Fans want to be part of the action and participate in a community of peers who feel them. Fans alter stories they enjoy to make it more representative, like the gentleman who retold the Harry Potter movie through an adult’s perspective. Most fans do not participate in fan culture for material gain, but rather for pleasure and acceptance, or because a story, like Harry Potter, really changed their life as in the case of Heather Lawver and The Daily Prophet. There is no measure or specific reason for why fans want to create and be a part of something they enjoy. In many ways, it’s natural. It’s in our DNA to understand and learn and share and create. That’s why fandom is such a great outlet for so many people. So rock on, wizards!