Yes. Okay, but really, JK Rowling and her recent Twitter tirades have massively disappointed Harry Potter fans and the internet in general. Usually in the news for retroactively changing the Harry Potter canon, the author has recently been under fire after she posted a string of transphobic tweets followed by an essay. She has since doubled down on her comments. In the past week she has posted more tweets on the matter and signed a letter against cancel culture. There is a lot to unpack here and if you want to learn more about exactly why her comments are concerning I suggest watching this video.
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin. Rowling’s comments are reinforcing a harmful narrative. As a cisgender, heterosexual woman, it is not her place to be the authority on what is best for trans people and their bodies. By spreading these views on such a massive platform, she is harming an already marginalized community. And now she wants to say she’s against cancel culture?
In the age of social media, people are getting cancelled left and right. My interpretation of cancel culture is as follows: people are ‘cancelled’ when they share a controversial or ignorant opinion. This could also stem from insensitive behaviors or comments in the past, whether that be any form of bigotry like racism or homophobia. Cancelling someone means calling them out for their behavior and stopping your support for them. The line does blur a bit and in extreme cases people are subject to public humiliation and harassment. This has caused a debate on whether or not cancelling someone is constructive, but that it is a discussion for another day.
I will say cancel culture can be toxic, but in the case of JK Rowling it isn’t. It is one thing to vehemently attack someone who may have made an isolated mistake in the past. However when someone is consistently and shamelessly showing that they have not grown and continue to do and say hurtful things, they are subject to criticism, especially when they have a platform like Rowling.
No matter what ridiculous thing she says next, she will never be truly cancelled. She will not lose her wealth or platform. Her claiming to be a victim of cancel culture is something that simply can’t exist. Even with this controversy she still currently sits with over 14 million Twitter followers. Calling out her bigoted comments is not cancel culture, it is simply taking her out of her echo chamber. You cannot advocate for free speech if you cannot accept people challenging what you choose to post on a public platform. If Rowling was really a supporter for free debate, she would not be attacking those who speak against her. Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of consequence.
Is Harry Potter Cancelled Too?
In short, I don’t think so. The world of Harry Potter has transcended JK Rowling and that can be attributed to the fans. These recent comments from Rowling have understandably upset many people that hold this universe and characters close to their hearts. I think if someone does want to drop the series completely that is valid, some cannot separate series from creator. However, some have opted for a different route: rewriting the narrative.
From fan art to fanfiction, Harry Potter fans are pros at reinterpreting their favorite characters and expanding the world created by Rowling. She might have been responsible for creating it, but it has became so much bigger than her. Many people cannot let go of something that has brought them so much joy throughout their lives which is understandable. Now more than ever, people have decided to turn their backs on Rowling but not the community her series created.
Cast Members Speak Out
Following Rowling’s initial tweets at the beginning of June, many cast members have spoken out against her comments. Daniel Radcliffe was one of the first to comment with a lengthy statement via The Trevor Project, a non-profit focused on suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth. His statement along with those from other cast members celebrate and empower trans people, reinforcing that their identities are valid. Many of them also emphasized that the meaning of the Harry Potter stories goes beyond the creator, like the above tweet from Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the films.
This is certainly not the first time Rowling has made comments further straining her relationship with the fans of her beloved series and unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will be the last. Simply ditching the books and films can be an acceptable avenue for some, and although some feel like they should, the solace and comfort they gave in the past is something that is hard to let go of. I’m all for people reclaiming the narrative and not turning away from a beloved piece of their lives just because the creator did. JK Rowling has destroyed her personal credibility, but the spirit of the world she created lives on, more inclusive than ever.
Cover Photo: Avcenire