My children were young and one of the things I enjoyed most was sitting and reading. Few books captured our attention like the Harry Potter series. There was something special about the books, about the way they addressed so many tough issues. Life, loss, being and feeling different. I sat outside of a Barnes and Noble book store until midnight with numerous other fans waiting for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I purchased two copies that night, raced home, and read mine in rapid order while the other was saved back for my boys.
Buy. Read. Devour. Discuss. Pass them on. There truly was something magical about the experience. Oh my, how the author herself has managed to work on making my fond memories of moments with my family into moments where I say: how the hell did the author who wrote books I truly enjoyed become the terrible person she is right now?
If you haven’t been following, in the past few days, JK Rowling has continued her descent into the pit in a series of Tweets where she backed Matt Walsh, and now finds herself lined up in discussions that reflect real disasters on the internet. In order to understand the depth of the problem, I think we need to sum up some of the Tweets regarding the issue:
I linked all the Tweets above because we need to talk about a few things. Matt Walsh is, in fact, a self-proclaimed fascist. He is in favor of denying women’s rights and makes broad statements attacking the people who are LGBT. When JK Rowling comes out in support — but not enough support, Jason Whitlock jumps in.
So, now I get to share a personal experience as someone here in Kansas City. I knew Jason Whitlock when he worked at 810 WHB radio station. In fact, I came into the station a few times to look things over and ran into him, as well as met with him over a charity fundraiser called “The Turkey Bowl”. It’s a good event to raise funds for a good cause. Hey, even not great people can do good. Whitlock, however, had no problems even at that point in his career, spending all of his time attacking the fundamental idea that other people were getting ahead of him or had a shot and that women really had no role in addressing a sports audience. It was mostly jokes at the time, or at least some of us thought so, but apparently, we were wrong.
JK Rowling, however, spends her time becoming pals that are supporting causes that are so contrary to the open and at the time accepting message of Harry Potter.
I have always struggled with this as an issue. If an artist generates a great piece of work and is a terrible person, does it change the work? In so many ways, some of the works I enjoy are written by people who are long, long deceased and so I don’t have to worry about their political views or them doing something terrible. I mean, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, or JRR Tolkein aren’t taking to Twitter anytime soon to embarrass themselves. GRR Martin might do something silly now and again, but I can’t imagine him engaging in this kind of nonsense, besides I’m not even sure he is alive to finish his book series for as long as I’ve been waiting on Winds of Winter.
Rowling is already a billionaire. Nothing can be done that will change that. I cannot change the fact that at the time, and forever in my life, those books, movies, audiobooks and even fan fiction meant something to myself and my kids. We couldn’t have known the future.
What I can say now if I was advising young parents is: find Harry Potter in a library to support the public library system if you love it so you aren’t putting more money in her hands, or consider one of several other great series. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is something you should look into supporting. like The Broken Earth trilogy. After all, while Harry Potter saw all the harms first hand of the ministry of magic, did he do anything about it afterward? No. Meanwhile, Percy as a protagonist was given the opportunity to become part of the system and instead told the Greek gods they had to offer fundamental reforms to society, and that was more important than his own immortality. A nice twist about how the characters move to change the world around them.
Sorry, JK. I’m sorry for the fact you are doing great harm to your own legacy, and putting actors and readers who have enjoyed or been part of your works in positions to talk about how they can’t associate with this viewpoint.
Oh well. I have some Terry Pratchett waiting.