Sunday, October 28, 2007

Harry Potter Controversy

Alright, I know that this has nothing to do with us being in Japan, but I wanted to weigh in on the latest Harry Potter news. Some of you may not know this, but I actually am a really big fan of the HP series, both books and movies. Another thing that some of you may not know is that JK Rowling outed Hogwart's headmaster and all-around great wizard Albus Dumbledore as a homosexual at a Q&A session she had at Carnagie Hall last week. This has been really big news on literary websites.

Before I go any further, I just want to say that I have nothing against the homosexual community. I feel that there are wonderful people who are homosexuals, and I do not feel like their private lives have to affect their friendships with me in any way. That said, I have to express a great deal of disappointment in Rowling.

She has defended her statement by saying that Dumbledore is her character, that he is what he is, and that she can write whatever she wants about him. I agree. But I feel that her method was irresponsible and unkind. If she truly wanted to have a homosexual character in her series then why did she hide that fact until months after the final book hit print? She claims that she only mentioned it because she was asked a direct question about Albus' love life at Carnagie Hall. I feel that by then, the position is too moot to discuss. By waiting to reveal this character's sexual orientation, Rowling was protecting her sales. The fact that Dumbledore is gay does not hurt the story of Harry's maturation in any way. But the same fact has a huge potential for crippling the sale of her very last book. By waiting until after she has raked in her millions for the final chapter to drop such a bomb, it's almost as if Rowling was trying to tell the gay community "I'm fine with you, but not fine enough to make it obvious or supportive in any way."

My second gripe is that the revelation really has nothing to do with the main storyline at all. This is information that does not affect Harry's quest for belonging in the early novels nor his quest for revenge in the later ones. So why tell it? Why ruin the fun of sitting with your friends and reminiscing about favorite chapters? Why make it so that the next time you read the books, you can't help but have an annoying aspect that the author threw out so cavalierly changing your entire perspective? Rowling has made it so that fans cannot have their own opinions about Dumbledore. She has ignored the fact that this particular issue is still a hot button for many people. AND she has neglected to consider that this revelation about Dumbledore's character throws a somewhat inappropriate and unnerving spin on the dynamics between his and Harry's relationship.

I love the books and plan to keep them forever and read them to my children, but I am incredibly disappointed that the author would try to force such irrelevant interpretation on the readers after the fact rather than allowing us to see, discover, and adjust to this aspect of the novels as we read along.

I am including the web addresses of some articles that I found interesting:


Christine said...

I heard that she based this particular character off of a person who was gay. So to her, he is gay. Plus, she said it was a direct question and I don't think she thought of it as such a big deal because she might not have answered the question otherwise.