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The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a nonprofit that uses parallels from Harry Potter to inspire hundreds of thousands of Harry Potter fans to act as heroes in our world. They've sent five cargo planes to Haiti, donated 90,000 books across the world, and have made huge strides for advocacy in human rights and equality. Their model of fan activism is currently one of the main case studies for Civic Paths led by Henry Jenkins.
Recently, the HPA created the Imagine Better Project that is expanding on their model of fan activism: working with fans of various blockbuster books, tv shows, and movies starting with the Hunger Games. Following a New York Times article about the campaign, Lionsgate tried to shut it down, claiming intellectual property infringement and the Internet exploded. Journalists who had never heard of fan activism were reporting (and defending) it's existence, Judd Apatow started tweeting his support, Change.org endorsed the campaign and within hours Lionsgate rescinded.
This talk will look at the conflict with Lionsgate in the context of a string of other recent social media victories as well as discussing in dialogue the future of fan activism.
Andrew Slack is a writer, producer, comedian, and creator/co-founder/executive director of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA). Praised by JK Rowling in Time Magazine and on her web site, Andrew has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, NYT, the Chicago Tribune, Australia's Today Show, and hundreds of other publications. He has written for the LA Times, a cover story for CNN.com, and several times for the Huffington Post, which in January 2010 recognized him as the "Greatest Person of the Day."
In his prior career as a comedian, Andrew performed at hundreds of colleges, produced three videos that have been seen more than eleven million times, and wrote comedy for the owners of the Red Sox, the bassist for Aerosmith, and William Shatner. Trained at an acting conservatory in London, Andrew has taught theater/creative writing workshops in both the US and Northern Ireland. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University, Andrew is dedicated to the building of a movement that harnesses the energy of popular culture, modern myth, and social media to transform our lives both personally and collectively.