On being let down by your heroine

I first read Harry Potter when I was 7 years old. I didn’t understand a lot of it, there was a lot of misreading of words, confusion and having to ask my mum what things meant- but I wanted to read it because everyone was going to see the first movie at school and I wanted to be a part of it. After my failed attempt, I read it a little later on and it’s a hype that has continued to grow and it’s a love that has been with me since childhood. After reading that first book, I was absorbed into a magical world where I would continue to turn for the next years of my life and J.K Rowling created a world which to me, was the greatest escape from everything in my life.

I read every book, watched every film, bought merch, played Harry Potter ‘Scene It’ until I had memorised every single card in the deck- and as an adult, Harry Potter was my little safety blanket when things got shit. If I was having a tough time, it would be a duvet, Harry Potter on TV and a hot chocolate. The perfect recipe to cheer me up.

But finally- I’ve been let down by this franchise. Not the world itself- but by it’s creator. A woman that I have idolised for nearly 16 years- a woman who made me want to write my own stories, pursue a career in writing and one who I have wanted to meet for so long that it actually pains me that I haven’t.

Because- for me alongside thousands of other people- she’s become so problematic, that it’s time to call her out. J.K Rowling is no longer a woman that I can call a role-model or even a heroine of mine for various reasons:

The first aspect of this is that she has cast Johnny Depp in her latest film.

J.K Rowling openly acknowledged in her statement that she was aware of the allegations against him, saying “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”

Ok- so she’s happy to have a man who openly admitted to abusing his wife play the major character in a franchise that she controls? Come on Jo, you aren’t that stupid surely. It makes me so sad and angry that for the sake of her damn film doing well, she’s willing to ignore the potential truths, discrepancies and issues that come with her casting choice- and make a selfish decision.

I understand her point about not basing her decision on tabloid gossip or speculation- but if the abuser has literally admitted they did it and been as shady as to favourite his ex-wife’s tweets on the day that the judgement came out- then I’m questioning his character. I also think the point that one twitter user made is perfect.

She said that ”[It] it isn’t about whether or not the people involved want to get on with their lives; my bet is neither of them wants any of this conversation at all. It’s about whether we continue propping up the system that implicitly says if a person is rich enough, powerful enough, or can settle things with enough discretion, they can continue to be put in powerful, important positions.”

I won’t even try and admit I could have worded it as well as that- as what Melissa is saying is so perfect. In a society dominated by rich white men, how dare she ignore the fact that he was able to hush up this court case and consider him for her film.

Harry Potter is literally a story about a child who is emotionally abused by his family- and who is saved by Hogwarts and the magical world. Ironic.

[ You can read JK’s full statement here if you’re interested. ]

The other massive issue that I now have is that she has openly told the fan base that Dumbledore identifies himself as gay. This was literally brilliant considering that throughout the original books, there is no character who identifies as gay, bisexual, transgender, or anywhere on the spectrum of LGBTQ+.

I accept that at the time of writing there wasn’t nearly as much openness about visibility and although it doesn’t excuse it- I was willing to let that slide, as she had openly made this statement and given one of the most beloved characters visibility in his sexuality. She had also cast a black-woman in the stage production and I was so on-board with the fact that she was opening up opportunity and diversity to her franchise.

What I do have an issue with however- is the fact that the next film ‘”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Crimes of Grindelwald will not make it “explicitly” clear Dumbledore is gay”

Eh? Did I miss something here?

It literally feels to me like J.K is leaving out a hugely important aspect of the character, a massive part of the story line that she shared and the fact that this plot point of his love for another wizard is being put to one side makes me so angry.

It feels to me like she wanted a bit of kudos for acknowledging that ‘well shit- I forgot to be diverse and inclusive in the original series, better do it now!!’

But when she finally has the opportunity, she’s putting it to one side for no fathomable reason. LGBTQ+ representation is so fundamentally important for people who love and adore this franchise. This series has saved and been a comfort to so many of us and it saddens me that she can’t see that. She’s making claims about things but not giving the hard evidence to actually support the things that she’s been saying.

It’s so sad, because I feel fully let down by a woman that I used to love and adore so much. I still adore the franchise but I find it nearly impossible to not feel angry and frustrated that a woman who clearly parades herself as an advocate for feminism and equality could act and behave in this way.

Rach

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