Harry Potter has been a part of my life since I was nine.
I remember at school when we were doing descriptive writing lessons, we had a fragment from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I think it had been out a few years by that point. It was certainly a hit at the time and me being me, I had no interest because it was so popular. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon despite the fact I had grown up with a father who attended LRP events full of wizards and orcs. Magic was what I lived for but I just didn’t want to know.
However, one morning a few days after my tonsils and adenoids were removed, a neighbour brought round a goody bag of treats which primarily containing two books. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Although I had trouble reading (and I still do) I was able to crush the books several times over that summer. And don’t even talk to me about the film releases.
With every movie I was captivated, I adored the characters, the magic, the plot. Now I watch back on the films and I laugh at how terrible some of the acting is and the special effects. Nonetheless, I lovingly watch the films with a feeling of warmth towards the characters that taught me so much.
UNBREAK MY HEART
J.K Rowling, beloved author and queen of my heart completely crushed me when I started following her on Twitter.
More and more I began to find her problematic. Here is a list for those who are possibly wondering what the heck I’m talking about.
WHY J.K ROWLING IS PROBLEMATIC:
She stated in 2007, after the last book was released that Dumbledore was gay. Which is, of course, a big win for gay representation within one of the biggest franchises in the world. EXCEPT there has NEVER been mention to his homosexuality in the books or films. She had also stated that he had been in a relationship with his old friend Grindlewald. This only enraged fans due to the fact that she announced this would not be addressed in the film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald, which made no sense to many. This felt like queerbaiting at its finest. Why won’t she represent the relationship she stated existed all along?
No, it may not be real life, but the representation of diverse communities displays allyship. And she destroyed that by not depicting it in the films where it was best suited with the narrative she created.
Rowling supported the continuation of Johnny Depp portraying Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts movie series despite him being accused of abusing his ex-wife Amber Heard. Shocking considering JK herself had been abused by her former partner.
In order to make her characters more diverse, she used stereotypes in addition to creating a negative portrayal of certain cultures.
One such example was Cho Chang. To white folks such as myself, we may not see the offence straight away. But, many from the Asian community have stated that it is the equivalent to naming her “Ching Chong.” And yes that is racist, so don’t start with the “PC gone mad” bull because it’s not PC to not be a dick and do some research. She could’ve chosen any other first name (in fact Cho is a surname, not first name) and called her “Sarah Chang.”
This isn’t where the stereotyping ends. Cho also ends up being what some deemed to be a “snitch” and a “square.” Another negative Asian stereotype.
Many also feel that the use of Goblins representing money greedy, grumpy, hook-nosed accountants are Jewish stereotypes. Which it is. Let us continue…
When asked whether there were any Jews at Hogwarts, she quipped back:
Many of you are asking “who dat?” Well, he’s a distant relative of Queenie and Tina Goldstein (from Fantastic Beasts). He’s not that relevant. But hey, there’s a Jewish surname so, it’s inclusive to other religions and races.
Additionally, she didn’t do her research when discussing Native American culture and magic. Yikes. She was strongly criticised by those of Native American communities, particularly over her writing about skinwalkers, which in the Navajo legend are said to be evil witches or wizards who can take on the form of animals.
JK states it “has its basis in fact … A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi, that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.”
Responding to a question on Twitter, Rowling said that “in my wizarding world, there were no skinwalkers”, with the legend created by those without magic “to demonise wizards”.
Dr Adrienne Keene responded that “it’s not ‘your’ world. It’s our (real) Native world. And skinwalker stories have context, roots, and reality … You can’t just claim and take a living tradition of a marginalised people. That’s straight-up colonialism/appropriation.”
Lastly (for now) she’s transphobic. She has supported those who have made transphobic comments and believes those born women are the only “women” in the world. FYI, trans women are women.
Despite all of these incredibly negative statements and realisations about the author of the book, the Harry Potter series has taught me so much.
The books and films taught me that:
- there is such thing as true friendship and it is important,
- we are all equal,
- you shouldn’t give up,
- you need to be open about your fears,
- it’s important to believe in yourself,
- you can’t always do things alone,
- chocolate makes you feel better,
- all you need is love,
- depression and trauma do not make you weak.
These lessons may have come from a “person that menstruates” who doesn’t follow her own message. But I still believe them.
I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I hear the soundtrack when I sip Butterbeer and whenever I snuggle up to watch a HP movie. It literally helps my mood. The story may get depressing in areas but they are my feel-good films.
I’M NOT READY TO COMPLETELY BREAK UP WITH HARRY POTTER
My struggle has been in not financially supporting J.K.
I still love Harry Potter and everything that goes with it. I can’t say I will never buy Harry Potter merchandise/products, or visit a Harry Potter theme park or studio again. Because it is such a big part of me. I literally have the Deathly Hallows tattooed on me for Christ’s sake so it’ll be hard. There is more than J.K’s income at stake if we ALL stopped funding our love for HP.
Unfortunately, this makes me a major hypocrite. I have always said when a person you admire has made questionable or outright dreadful choices in their life (Ian Watkins from Lost Prophets, Michael Jackson etc.) you must stop funding and promoting their art. Can I do this with Harry Potter? No, I don’t think I can. Because I will still watch the films. I won’t watch the new films or the Cursed Child (which she didn’t write and is apparently awful) and I will no longer purchase her other books. But when it comes to the original films and the theme parks etc. that’s where things get tricky for me.
Are you in the same position? Do you want to cancel J.K. Rowling but not Harry Potter?