I never really liked Harry Potter. This was at least partially due to constantly being compared to buck-teethed, frizzy-haired Hermione Granger, a stereotype of awkward introverts that portrayed people like me as stuck-up asshats who didn’t have feelings. I also simply preferred other books, especially those that didn’t kill innocent cats, or borrow most of their narrative elements from other better-told stories. Furthermore, even at the tender age of ten years old I clocked that naming the Asian character Cho Chang was lazy and racist. Ten years ago, admitting all this was tantamount to heresy. Today, we tell a different story.
Once a beloved children’s author who could do no wrong, Harry Potter creator J.K.Rowling has fallen so far from grace as to have set the record for most distance travelled in a single lifetime. The franchise has rightly been criticised for it’s racism, antisemitism, and insensitive portrayal of slavery. In an attempt to save face, Rowling announced that Hogwarts headteacher Albus Dumbledore was a flaming homosexual, despite this never having been so much as alluded to in the original series.
Then, of course, come Rowling’s own views on the trans community, subscribing to what we call “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism”, although the F would more accurately stand for fascism, frankly. She believes that gender is as rigid as the sex you were born as, and that trans women are nothing more than men playing dress-up with sinister intentions of sexual assault, despite the wealth of evidence to the contrary. All of this has been well documented and does not need re-iterating further here, but is useful context for what I’m about to discuss.
J.K.Rowling also has work published under the name Robert Galbraith, which just so happens to be a name shared with the inventor of gay conversion therapy, by the way, and Robert recently released a new book; The Ink Black Heart. The book follows the story of a beloved children’s author accused of various acts of bigotry including transphobia, who is murdered for her views. I won’t be reading it, but those that have highlight how it is essentially 1,200 pages of self-pity and playing the victim, with a not insubstantial number of those pages being given over to fictitious tweets expressing hatred and violence towards the author, the mark of a true literary genius.
Rowling does not need to generate any more controversy but seems to be unable to help herself, because the hateful tweeters in The Ink Black Heart that are in no way an allegory for the well-earned criticism she has brought on herself have social media profiles that read something along the lines of;
M.E, endometriosis. Bi enbie they/them.
If that profile sounds familiar to you, it’s for good reason; that’s actually the start of my own Twitter profile (@WheelerDax for the curious). As far as I am aware, this exact profile is not in the book, but at least one of the more major characters is listed as having chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS), as well as using she/they pronouns. J.K.Rowling of course neglects to address a character of her own creation by they pronouns at any point during the book, and depicts the character as overly controlling and self-assured, heavily implying that their health conditions are entirely made up. Given the extreme difficulty many femme-leaning people have being taken seriously in medical settings, this depiction is of course the ultimate feminist move.
It’s almost as if Rowling is actively trying to alienate every person with a protected characteristic all at once, which given that they made up the majority of her original fan base is not an especially clever thing to do. It would probably be funny if it wasn’t going to cause very real harm.
J.K.Rowling has used her immense following to make racist and antisemitic stereotypes palatable. Her platform has been used to make gay people look disingenuous when calling out the lack of proper LGBTQAI+ representation in her work. Her status has been used to stir up hatred of the trans community, particularly trans women, until people have to take drastic action such as moving house to protect themselves. Now, she’s using her fame to make it even harder for disabled people, especially those with invisible disabilities, to access the medical and financial resources they need by re-iterating the tired stereotype that we are, in fact, just a bit tired. While I do not condone the genuinely hateful and threatening messages that I am sure she’s had, the rest of the criticism is well-earned and she is not the victim in this situation.
Normally, if I discover that someone behind a piece of media that I really like is a twat I refuse to buy any future work and go down the “separate the art from the artist” route for anything I already own, even though I can never quite enjoy their prior work in the same way again. J.K.Rowling is a different matter, however. For starters, her work has contained despicable elements right from the start (see paragraph 1). Furthermore, she has hurt so many people in so many ways that she is almost certainly beyond redemption. I know I’m not the only person who is going to feel unsafe around someone who continues to sport Harry Potter merch, says they wish they had gone to Hogwarts, and wants to know which house you belong to. There are plenty of other fantasy franchises to get immersed in that aren’t problematic even independently of the author, and that don’t give yet more money to a bully.
Simply put, if you are a pro-LGBT, anti-racist feminist, who is also not ableist or antisemitic, it’s time to move on. Let’s stop giving J.K.Rowling the uncritical validation she so obviously craves, and leave her to her own sad bitterness. Perhaps she will one day even regret her actions if she comes to realise what her hatred has destroyed, although frankly, I doubt it.