The Harry Potter Fiasco


To be honest, I’m a little sick of Harry Potter right now thanks to all this recent news. I have good reason to be. I have no problem with a character being homosexual, and that isn’t what this rant is about, but I do have a problem with begging for media acceptance and manipulating the public simply because you have the audience. The sad part of this is that J. K. Rowling has the power of a god among kids, so for her to say “being gay is cool” would be instantly accepted by millions not because they truly believe that homosexuality is okay, but because someone else told them so. Morality is not determined by those with knowledge, but those that don’t understand immorality. To simply tell people that something is right or wrong does nothing but implant an idea with nothing to support it.
Another thing is that everyone is playing this off as a big victory for the gay community when if they really thought about it they’d realize that it is far from the truth. First, Rowling never made it even remotely clear that Dumbledore is gay in the books. All the little passages being analyzed and flouted as being ‘hints’ at his gayness are nothing short of ambiguous–well, sorta. If I told you that when I met my friend Kyle we took to each other fast, you could take that as either he and I becoming fast friends, or that it was a gay relationship, but the more likely solution is that we were good friends. There’s little in that phrase that implies homosexuality. I particularly like this quote:

There are not enough gay characters in literature, the argument runs, especially in children’s books, which reinforces the view that being gay is unusual and not normal.

I’m sorry, what? How does having a character that is gay hide the fact that he is gay doing anything short of reinforcing the idea to children that being gay is strange/abnormal/different? Or alternately, how does not making it clear as the writer that the character is gay do anything but reinforce the idea to children that homosexuality is strange? That sentence makes absolutely no sense. To add, the text doesn’t do anything but prove that people in power who happen to be homosexual should make sure to keep that part of them hidden. What kind of victory is that? It’s not. It’s a step in the wrong direction for the gay community, but is anyone thinking about it? In fact, if Rowling had not said anything, most of us would have just thought him a nice old man and only a small, minute group of us would have fantasized–these being the same people that romanticize relationships between Ron and Harry, Malfoy and Harry, among others. I see this as a media ploy by Rowling, which sickens me. Maybe she thought of this all along, but to me, it doesn’t feel that way. Why didn’t she reveal it sooner? Why hide something like that? Would your poor sales have hurt because the Christians who read your book might suddenly avoid it? It’s as if this was all a forethought that Rowling thought she’d use to milk a little more out of her fans. The fact that she called it ‘fan-fic worthy’ despite her dislike of the dirtier side of fan-fic is a clear indicator of this. If she had truly thought of Dumbledore as gay, then why not put that in the book? Why? What is the purpose of keeping it hidden if it is such an important part of the character? The truth is, there isn’t a reason for it, and the likely reality of the situation is that Rowling just threw it out there because she, like the rest of us, realize that she’s done. There are no more HP books, and nothing more to add to the universe that won’t hurt its integrity.
Shame on your Rowling. Shame on you.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

14 thoughts on “The Harry Potter Fiasco

  1. Ah yes, the gay episode. for once something on your blog i can comment on (i’m sadly not a big fiction reader, so many of the books and especially literary techniques are over my head!), anyway, i think it was very silly of JK to say this now. i agree with you, why now? were her books truly so bad that she has to develop characters after they are finished? were 7 books not enough time to get across the fact that he is gay?
    It seems just like a media stunt, most things in the book don’t suggest gay, but no on cares. if she says hes gay then he is gay. we just never noticed.

    Ah well shes an insanely rich woman who hads just lost her main source of income, who cares?
    TO be honest i almost feel sorry for her. it is unlikely that any book she ever writes from now on (if she does) will never, ever be able to top potter. If only because of the hype the new book will get.

  2. I’m angry at Rowling over this entire thing. If she had revealed Dumbledore was gay in the books, I would have been fine with that. But this reeks of a dirty tactic. Yes, I’m 100% certain she would have sold less books if she had revealed it much sooner. So I’m thinking this has a lot to do with money, which has really stained her reputation in my eyes.

    And I agree with you, Shaun, that the statement makes no sense. In saying he’s gay, that automatically classifies him as different, that he stands out from other people (and what are readers supposed to classify the non-gay characters as, if Dumbledore is “gay”? – “straight”? “normal”?) It’s counterproductive. And it only makes homosexuality seem wrong or in the minority.

  3. Well, score two points for me then :P. Yeah, to be honest it didn’t bother me at first until I started to think about it. Then it just ticked me off. If she had pulled this within the series and just went “oh and by the way, even though the books don’t say it, Dumbledore is gay”, I would have never finished the series. If a character is gay, then make the character gay. If you want him to hide his gayness in the book, fine, but still give more than some vague, non-homosexual clues. Not to mention, NOWHERE IN THE BOOKS does it ever indicate that the wizarding community is against homosexual. I can’t think of one place. If I’m wrong, fix it, but as far as I am concerned, the books made a big deal of the contrast between wizards and muggles (non-wizards), not whether the Deatheaters were fully like Nazis and simply wanted to wipe everyone out. Or is she now implying that homosexuals can’t be evil too?
    Grr…sorry. A little irritated with her right now 😛

  4. Mugglenet’s got an article about this, and it’s awful. It says it makes no difference whether Dumbledore’s gay or not, and makes no reference to WHY Rowling decided to reveal this now.

    It also claims that Christians shouldn’t grab the Bible and point a finger at JK; the article said ALL laws put in the Bible are irrelevant to today’s society, which is no smart way to win a debate. It goes on to insult everyone who follows the Bible. Just…messed up…

  5. Oh wow, where is Dane Bramage when I need him! Mr. Bramage, get in on this (not the part about homosexuals cause I know your views on that, but the part about the irrelevancy of the Bible).
    They actually said that on MuggleNet Andrew? Link me!
    First off, while a lot of things in the Bible are certainly outdated and don’t apply at all to modern society, the Bible itself is actually a very valuable work of literature/faith/whatever you want to call it. It shaped Western Civilization! Irrelevant? Not by a long shot. That’s coming from someone that isn’t a fan of the Bible (mostly because of how I’ve seen people use it to justify hatred). But they actually said all the laws are obsolete? What about the ten commandments? I don’t know them word for word, but if anything, almost all those laws are even MORE relevant today than they were 50 years ago! Don’t kill, don’t commit adultery (yeah, that’s a big one), don’t steal…sorry, I don’t know them all by heart, but I’m sure you do. I mean, that’s just..retarded! First off, Christians, the majority of them, probably had no issue with Harry Potter. True Christians are smart enough to know that Harry Potter doesn’t condone witchcraft and they recognize that it’s a ‘fictional’ world.
    I’m realizing really fast how evil Rowling is…

  6. I don’t have any reason to doubt that Rowling had Dumbledore’s homosexuality in mind when considering what his character was all about. When I write, I know a lot more about my characters than I reveal – even though it’s not revealed it can influence the words and actions in minor ways. I suspect she never revealed it before now precisely because it would’ve hurt sales. When I took my kids to see a couple of the movies here in Minneapolis some Bible-thumping nutjobs were protesting out front (magic, demons, satan, blah blah blah). Give those theocratic retards any more ammunition and 30% of the population starts having second thoughts about letting their kids read pro-homosexuality fantasy.

    So, she revealed it now – after the big run on the last book is over. Long after it can have any negative affect on sales. Long after it really matters, financially at least. She’s just getting it off her chest and I didn’t take it as her hyping things for any ulterior motive.

    To me it’s an interesting insight in how a writer thought through the background of a character . . . nothing more.

    As to the Bible and the Ten Commandments . . . oh hell. Those commandments are completely irrelevant. I agree with you that as a work of literature the Bible is important, and as a historical and present influence in all facets of power – political, social, economic – it’s important. I think it’s one of the most important books for those reasons . . . but as a basis for how to conduct your life . . . NO! Emphatically no. Look at the ten commandments . . . you shouldn’t kill, lie or steal. Sure those are good . . . but the rest are pure crap. Like covet? Don’t we live in a society where billions are spent on advertising to Christians to encourage them to covet . . . my wealthiest Christian client has two Humvee’s – his and hers . . . that’s coveting all right. Adultery – to me that just a personal decision and the institution of marriage is just a contract. Don’t swear? That doesn’t apply to me for sure. No other Gods? I don’t even believe in the topic of discussion. Honor thy father? They never met my old man, and he’s not one to honor unless I were to go against my own honor, my own integrity, my own convictions and beliefs. Not going to happen.

    My rant is over . . . I’ll breathe now.

  7. Here’s what I just wrote in there, which some people will probably tear me a new one for: “As interesting as that was I’ll take the moment to correct you.
    You actually don’t know anything about the Holy Bible because if you did you would have known that historically speaking the word ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ or any direct reference to homosexuality as a sin was never actually included. That’s a modern addition that resulted primarily from the King James bastardization of a work that shaped Western civilization. When the Bible was written, there wasn’t an issue with homosexuality. In fact, in a lot of ways, it was quite the opposite. Certain cultures in the time of the Bible actually condoned what would now be considered homosexual relationships, particularly in the nobility.
    Now to the relevancy of the Bible. If anything the Bible is more relevant now than it ever was before. Why? Because we live in one of the most disgusting, twisted societies to grace the face of Western civilization. This include England and the U.S. We worship celebrities who commit adultery, have popcorn marriages, and degrade the value of marriage into something that you can simply go off and do without making it remotely of importance. Sexual relations are, disturbingly enough, rampant and rather than being safe, kids are being idiotic, spreading diseases, getting pregnant at ages where they are not capable of being good parents, and all in all failing to use their heads and actually listen to what other people are saying. We elect morons to run our government, and complain when things don’t go our way while still voting for the same sorts of people over and over. We condone illegal wars, ignore the reality of how violent our country really is, and fail to take appropriate efforts as a society to put a stop to it. So, yes, the Bible is more relevant now than ever before. Not because it has God, or Jesus, or that you need to have religious belief to believe all the little stories. No, it’s important because the values that we take for granted every day were created by the same people who wrote the Bible. Perhaps created is the wrong word, but pioneered is certainly the correct word. It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in God, and you don’t have to, but thanks to the Bible our culture is aware that murder and theft are wrong. We know not to have sexual relations with our best friends’ wife, among a myriad of other values.
    Now, as for Rowling. If it wasn’t relevant for Dumbledore to be gay in the books, than it is completely irrelevant for her to tell us that he is now. I don’t care if Dumbledore is gay because that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is using celebrity power to push an issue, which is exactly what this is. If Rowling had made it clearer in the books, yes CLEAR, that Dumbledore was gay, and didn’t use vague references that refer more to friendship than homosexuality, then the book would have been somewhat different, but just as entertaining. Why keep it hidden? Perhaps because of sales, perhaps not.
    Another issue is the idea that this is some great victory for the homosexual world. How? First off, Rowling doesn’t make it clear in her writing that Dumbledore is gay, so people were forced to speculate using textual evidence that is shady at best. So in hiding his sexuality, it’s not sending a good message at all about homosexuality, it’s sending the wrong message. It’s okay to hide who you are, and it’s okay for other people to do the same thing of you from and artistic perspective. Plus, Dumbledore certainly never proclaims that he is gay, so how is the idea of a man with such power hiding who he really is a good message too? It’s not, in fact it condones the idea of hiding who you are, which is no different that Jews pretending not to be Jews during the Holocaust and no different than gays now trying to pretend they are otherwise. Not to mention there is no basis, as far as we can see, that there is even a need for Dumbledore to hide his sexuality. The books don’t make it at all clear that the Deatheaters are out hunting homosexual wizards. They’re after muggles and impure wizards.
    This is a ruse, and clever, wicked trick, and utterly pointless. The books were perfectly fine without Rowling muddling it up with useless information that really isn’t important and has no relevancy whatsoever. Media ploys are always wicked devices.
    And enjoy ripping all this to pieces since ignorance is bliss.”

    And I’ll just have to disagree wtih you cv rick. I think if you want to make a character gay, then make the character gay, don’t make it an after thought. If you are so worried about sales, then don’t make the character gay. Otherwise, there’s no relevant point for making the character gay at all.

  8. I don’t think I can dig an individual comment. It would dig the whole page. Someone will see it, blast me for it because they are a blind zombie licking at Rowling’s feet, and I’ll just giggle inside. I love Harry Potter, so I don’t want any of you guys thinking I don’t like the books. The books are brilliant. I just hate this whole deal with what she said. Someone needs to take over her spot as the attention getter for a while because she desperately needs to humblize herself.

  9. Thanks for the link. For the most part I don’t agree at all. The only part I do agree with is that you as the reader could have read Dumbledore as gay, or as just a really friendly guy who made deep friendships. The way it was written was in such a way that you could do that, but there would be no support for the gay position in all reality.
    And the bit about publicity. Yes, she needs the publicity. Hello! Her books are done! Eventually people are going to stop talking about her if she just drops off and stops doing stuff. So, yes, I can see the need for a publicity stunt here.
    She’s just basically admitted that she is a crappy writer to the whole world, which to me is close to blasphemy.

  10. I disagree . . . This series is finished, sure. But JRR Tolkien obviously hasn’t written anything in half a century and people are still talking about him.

    The Harry Potter books won’t go out of print for decades, if ever.

  11. Ah, see, here is where things are tricky.
    The books themselves are firmly planted in history–even if their influence proves minimal.
    But Rowling is not firmly planted in history, and likely never will be. Her name certainly will be remembered because she wrote HP. But, unlike Tolkien, her personal story and information are irrelevant to the HP books themselves.
    Tolkien had a rich history that we find useful when reading Tolkien. His relationship with C. S. Lewis, with the Inklings, and with the academia in England, all of it relevant and important in his creation of Middle Earth. Hence why Tolkien, in light of the success of his novels, stands before us as someone of value in the fantasy field. Not to mention, he pioneered fantasy. Rowling hasn’t done anything close to pioneering. All her ideas in HP are not original, she simply got lucky. There are countless people before her that have had considerably more influence on the genre that we can actually see.

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