J.K. Rowling

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Joanne Rowling, (1965–) pen names J(ust) K(idding) Rowling[note 1] and Robert Galbraith[note 2], is a British author, former billionaire[1] and prominent TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) sympathiser. She went from hailed author of the beloved Harry Potter series to a fallen hero who now spends her time defending hate speech as sacred and untouchable.

Harry Potter series[edit]

The logo
Harry's world says that drinking dead animal blood gives power, a satanic human sacrifice and Harry's powerful blood brings new life, demon possession is not spiritually dangerous, and that passing through fire, contacting the dead, and conversing with ghosts, others in the spirit world, and more, is normal and acceptable.
Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, a DVD incapable of making a distinction between fantasy novels and the occult or even getting what is in said novels right.

Harry Potter, a series of seven (or so) fantasy novels by British author J.K. Rowling, relates the adventures of a teenage boy and of his two best friends who attend a school of "witchcraft and wizardry", learning a whole range of magical skills and fighting Dark Magic and evil, and demonstrates how Alan Rickman got snubbed of another Oscar.[2]

The series portrays Good triumphing over Evil. It became a literary and critical success; nevertheless, fundamentalist religious groups condemn it as a harmful work which will seduce children into the occult and witchcraft. In the United States (the so-called "great land of liberty") the books have become the most challenged of the 21st century.[3] Fortunately for Harry Potter fans, magic and witchcraft are only a concern if you're stuck in the 17th century or living in Africa or Indonesia or Papua New Guinea in the present century.

The response to the books represents an excellent example of modern-day fundamentalism and would-be authoritarianism, with numerous attempts to ban the books.

Commercialisation[edit]

The commercialisation of the Harry Potter series by capitalist industries, especially by Hollywood and the media, has been criticised. Scholar Jack Zipes critiqued the mass commercialisation and corporate hegemony behind the Harry Potter franchise, likening such hegemony to a form of cultural imperialism. In his Adornean analysis of Harry Potter's global brand, Zipes wrote, "It must conform to the standards of exception set by the mass media and promoted by the culture industry in general. To be a phenomenon means that a person or commodity must conform to the hegemonic groups that determine what makes up a phenomenon".[4]

Themes[edit]

Scholars have subjected the Harry Potter novels to serious social scrutiny, with studies of the series' political intricacies performed by columnists, professors and doctoral students alike. As of 2007, the catalog of the Library of Congress has recorded 21 volumes of criticism and interpretation, and at least seven master's dissertations and 17 doctoral theses have been devoted to the Harry Potter books. Seriously.[5]

Avada Kedavra!

From the concepts of hierarchy and purity found in the relations between pure-blooded and muggle-born wizards to the struggle for House-Elf freedom, equality is a central theme of the books. It portrays dishonest and incompetent government and media and paints war as a great evil in which innocent people die. The school which Harry attends, Hogwarts, is multicultural, multiracial, and (seemingly) secular. Some critics have, however, called the books patronising and conservative,[6] or alternatively sexist and neoconservative.[7] This is odd, since Rowling herself is a staunch Labour supporter (though was very critical of Jeremy Corbyn).

Rowling also outed Dumbledore, one of the stories' most important characters, saying "I like to think of him as gay." Notably, she did so not in the text of the books, but during a PR event after the release of the final novel.[8] This must rank as one of the greatest achievements in having one's cake and eating it too, since Rowling gets credit for standing up for LGBT recognition without damaging her book sales or outraging her readership in a world where gay central characters are still a rarity in mainstream literature and taboo in children's fiction. She later revealed herself to be a supporter of the TERF cause, though.[9][10]

Unrelated controversies include comparisons to some older book series such as the Howl's Moving Castle and Wizard's Hall (The Worst Witch is the most commented-on), which have resulted in accusations of plagiarism, or (far worse) being derivative. The works feature frumpy and disaster-prone protagonists, a couple of loyal best-friends (one book-smart and rational, one street-smart and slightly problematic), a blond and rich but cowardly and rather inefficient rival, a scary and seemingly unfair potions-teacher with hidden depths, a childish headmaster with a penchant for candy, and a big bad-guy who desires the destruction of the protagonist after their fateful first encounter. Whether this is more than just a re-hashing of tropes is a matter of debate.[11] Some fans, especially older ones, also believe that Rowling's later additions to the franchise are inferior to the original seven novels, with some outright comparing her work to that of George Lucas on the later Star Wars films,[12] though one could hardly throw a rock within geek culture without running into similar complaints regarding one particular franchise or another.

Rowling is a Christian herself. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, contains an epigraph from the Gospels (Matthew 6:21), Harry's parents' gravestones display another Bible quote (1 Corinthians 15:26) and Rowling also has a scene where Harry sacrifices his own life and is resurrected and then proceeds to save everybody.[note 3]

Slavery apologism, AIDSwolves of London, and other nasties[edit]

One of the most understated parts of the books series is the portrayal of slavery and abolitionism. One of the main characters, Hermione Granger, seeks to abolish slavery and gets mocked for it. The enslaved group, the house elves, are portrayed as comical relief and themselves show hostility to the only slave who sought freedom.[13]

Another point of contention is the portrayal of lycanthropy as a possible AIDS metaphor, considering that the character Remus Lupin contracted the disease by being assaulted by an adult man when he was a child. Rowling attempted to retract this analogy or obfuscate, but the results were mixed.[14][15][16]

Fundamentalist response[edit]

Oh noes!

There have been dozens of legal cases concerning copyright infringement, libel and breach of contract involving the Potterworld. Flocks of religious leaders (plus Jack Chick) have fulminated against the series.

Note however that many moderate and some evangelical Christians have spoken out in favour of the books. While the Catholic Church has no official position, many Cardinals oppose the books. It seems that once people make the distinction between fiction and real belief in magic, they can see past any objections to demons and witchcraft to realise what the series actually supports.

Islamic fundamentalists have denounced the series. The Islamic preacher Sheik Feiz Muhammad regarded the books and films as "Satanic" and claimed they were introducing young children to pagan rituals (such as the drinking of goat's blood) which Islam forbids. The esteemed Sheik also criticized Muslim parents who allow their children to watch the films or read the books, claiming they were being irresponsible.[17]

Furthermore, the drinking of dead animal blood, Satanic human sacrifice, demonic possession etc. described in the quote at the top of the page, are actions practiced by the book's Wilhelm-screaming [18][note 4] antagonist, Lord Voldemort, the murderer of Harry's parents; the books do not exactly present Voldemort as a morally praiseworthy figure.[citation NOT needed]

As to the claims that the books promote witchcraft by teaching impressionable children to cast spells, well… we hate to break it to you, but the spells described in the books don't work in real life, even if you wave a piece of carved wood in the air.

Satirical-news source The Onion, in its inimitable style, once ran a spoof of the fundamentalists' claims, saying that children really were converting to Satanism because of the books.[19] As if to prove their own idiocy to anyone yet unconvinced, the fundies took the article as proof that they were right.[20]

Identify however you want but...[edit]

Since 2018, Rowling has been swirling in Twitter shenanigans. In March 2018, she had a "clumsy and middle-aged moment" — in the words of her representative, Rebecca Salt — when she liked an anti-trans tweet by @racybearhold that said "Men in dresses get brocialist solidarity I never had. That's misogyny!" Salt claimed afterwards, "this is not the first time [Rowling] has favourited by holding her phone incorrectly."[21]

In June 2019 — Pride month, no less — Rowling was revealed to be following nearly a dozen transphobic Twitter accounts. Twitter user @Persenche looked through the nearly 670 people Rowling followed and tweeted that 11 of them included Julie Bindel and Magdalen Berns, the latter of whom compared being trans to wearing blackface.[22] Six months later, Rowling tweeted in support of Maya Forstater, who claimed she was fired for her "gender critical views", incorrectly describing Forstater's views as "sex is real".[23] She then doubled down in June 2020, when she affirmed biological determinism.[24] Her views were condemned by her own characters the actors of her film series and her own fans.[25][26]

She also engaged in petty antics such as deleting a tweet praising Stephen King after he supported trans women[27] and participating in an open letter whinging about cancel culture with James Bennet, who resigned as opinion editor of The New York Times after printing an op-ed by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton which called for Black Lives Matter protesters to be suppressed by the military.[28][29]

JK Rowling promoted a radfem store called "Wild Womyn Workshop" where they sell merchandise for "♀️women♀️" that help show whoever's still supporting JK Rowling proclaim of how much of a cunt they are.[30] The products are "great, original designed products, carefully hand-crafted with care and love" featuring careless slogans carelessly mass-produced with carelessness and seething incomprehensible hatred like "Sorry about your dick bro" on a trans flag, "trans men are my sisters" on a trans flag, "f*ck your pronouns", and, unfortunately, more. The phrase "I Love J. K. Rowling" has become one of the most recognisable transphobic dogwhistles used by TERFs.[31][32] Rowling claims 90% of her fans agree with her transphobia.[33]

Gay matters[edit]

While praised for bringing queer representation with Dumbledore, Rowling's poor management of the character in the Fantastic Beasts prequels has been described as a betrayal[34][35] due to refusal to make the character explicitly gay on-screen.[36]

Political views[edit]

Because bigotry is probably the thing I detest most. All forms of intolerance, the whole idea of “that which is different from me is necessary evil.” I really like to explore the idea that difference is equal and good. But there's another idea that I like to explore, too. Oppressed groups are not, generally speaking, people who stand firmly together – no, sadly, they kind of subdivide among themselves and fight like hell. That's human nature, so that's what you see here. This world of wizards and witches, they're already ostracized, and then within themselves, they've formed a loathsome pecking order.
—JK Rowling explaining why she included themes of bigotry in her books[37]

Though she has been seen as conservative in hiding due to her association with outdated gender norms and reactionary opposition to transgender rights, she has not always been as such.

In a 2000 interview, she described herself as left-wing.[38] As early as 2002, Rowling claimed that one of her biggest writting influences had been Jessica MitfordWikipedia, who she described as a "self-taught socialist" (Mitford had also been a member of the Communist Party of the United States until 1958).[39] She also donated to Labour[40] and was openly supportive of the British welfare state[41] in the late 2000s. In April 2010, she wrote a Single Mother's Manifesto criticising Tory austerity and David Cameron.[42]

However she was very critical of Jeremy Corbyn, a remnant of Labour's Old Left,[43] and mocked his (honestly mediocre and half-assed) stance on Brexit.[44] This was driven by fear that it would lead to a repeat of the longest suicide note in historyWikipedia which resulted in the Tories, under Margaret Thatcher, winning re-election in 1983 and control over national politics until 1997.[45][46]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. J. K. Rowling wasn't given a middle name. When choosing to write under initials, she added a "K." after her grandmother, Kathleen. Wikipedia confidently states that her surname is pronounced /ˈroʊlɪŋ/ ROH-ling but feel free to ignore this, as most people do.
  2. Robert Galbraith is the name under which Rowling writes the Cormoran Strike detective novels for adults.
  3. We're kind of over-exaggerating a bit, because it's implied in the final epilogue that he lived a fairly normal life after that.
  4. Though, technically, the scream isn't actually the Wilhelm.

References[edit]

  1. From billionaire to millionaire, New Zealand Herald, 12 Mar, 2012
  2. Spoilers!
  3. Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st century, American Library Association
  4. Zipes, J. (2002). Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter. Page 175.
  5. Pottering Around, Inside Higher Ed
  6. "Why Harry Potter doesn't cast a spell over me", The Guardian
  7. "Hogwarts is a winner because boys will be sexist neocon boys", The Sunday Times
  8. J.K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore is Gay, The Leaky Cauldron
  9. JK Rowling Confirms Stance Against Transgender Women, Medium, 24 June 2019
  10. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/12/19/jk-rowing-maya-forstater-tweets-transphobia-accusations/
  11. See the Wikipedia article on Harry Potter influences and analogues.
  12. Farrow, Max. "J.K. Rowling Is Turning Into George Lucas." ScreenRant, 25 November 2018 (recovered 30 April 2019).
  13. Harry Potter and the problematic slavery parable
  14. JK Rowling stirs controversy with AIDS metaphor
  15. Never forget when JK Rowling likened being a werewolf to having AIDS
  16. JK Rowling's allegory fail: Werewolves are not a useful metaphor for AIDS
  17. Harry Potter — Sheik Feiz Muhammad
  18. Voldemort NYAH NYEAH
  19. Avada Kedavra, bitches!
  20. Harry Potter and Satanism, Snopes.
  21. https://www.indy100.com/article/jk-rowling-tweet-transphobic-men-dresses-harry-potter-8268111
  22. https://www.femestella.com/jk-rowling-transphobic/
  23. Maya Forstater: Woman loses tribunal over transgender tweets, BBC, December 19, 2019
  24. Insider:JK Rowling claims trans activism hurts women and lesbians, dated to Jun 7, 2020
  25. Slashfilm:More stars condemn Rowling's trans comments, dated to June 11th, 2020
  26. HP fans sites distance themselves from JK Rowling, The Guardian, dated to July 3, 2020
  27. Rowling deletes tweet after Stephen King supports trans women
  28. ‘Whiny BS’: letter signed by JK Rowling, Margaret Atwood slammed as out of touch, The New Daily, July 7, 2020
  29. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/cancel-culture-harpers-jk-rowling-scam_n_5f0887b4c5b67a80bc06c95e
  30. @DreamsRestless. (September 22, 2020). [1]. Twitter. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  31. "I love JK Rowling’ poster taken down at Edinburgh railway station due to ‘political nature’", The Independent
  32. "I Love J.K. Rowling sign makes brief, controversial appearance in Vancouver", CBC News
  33. J.K. Rowling says 90% of her fans agree with her transphobia but they’re afraid to say so publicly, lgbtqnation
  34. Insider:LGBT backlash against Fantastic Beasts, dated to Feb 2, 2018
  35. SBS:Rowling omitting Dumbledore being gay is a slap in the face to her queer fans, dated to 19 Mar 2019
  36. Insider:Fantastic Beasts director says movie will not address Dumbledore being gay, dated to Jan 31, 2018
  37. Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly, September 7, 2000, archived
  38. Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly, September 7, 2000, archived
  39. Lindsay Fraser, The Scotsman, November 2002, archived at Accio Quote!
  40. JK Rowling gives Labour £1m donation, 20 September 2008
  41. JK Rowling on paying taxes and the welfare state
  42. The Single Mother's Manifesto, originally pushed in The Times
  43. JK Rowling gave "blast of reality" on Jeremy Corbyn
  44. JK Rowling mocks "Saint Jeremy" over Brexit
  45. JK Rowling mocks "Saint Jeremy" over
  46. JK Rowling is in a massive Twitter war about the future of progressive politics in Britain