I am no fan of Harry Potter. But I love JK. And The Casual Vacancy /other books/films. And her charity work. And free speech..
Interesting thing happened these past few weeks. Cancel culture strikes again! And a mob mentality online, cloaked in a carapace of civility, wants to make it VERY clear that your opinion is just WRONG.
This pernicious yet pervasive force cares not one jot for subtle shades in your argument or the wider context of your character or societal utility. But they feel it very pressing, urgent and important to condemn your opinion and shout theirs as being somehow on message with invisible orthodoxies and in line with assignations for social media inquisitions.
If there were ANY person I would have bet vital parts of my anatomy to be exempt from this new form of McCarthyite purge? I’d have said JK, all the way. I was wrong, sadly. And my heart genuinely goes out to her.
Ms Rowling has been beloved of kids and (bizarrely but hey each to their own I guess) adults for 20 years now. All courtesy of Harrrrryyyyy Potttttterrrrr. Adored. Her every word, book, social gesture, in joke, preference, cultural nod and so on..embraced, entrenched, revered. We even have a Platform something and 3/4, now, at a train station? That kinda power.
Now, was the Potter brand ‘my thing’. No. Loathed it. Still do. Sorry. But it was not my intended demographic /age group. I was 20 when they came out as films; and familiar with its aesthetics (boarding schools, Oxford Uni, Cathedrals etc) to the extent that I felt I was living or had lived, already that boy wizard experience. The books seemed a kind of marketing exercise by corporate media as much as they were literary adventure: one was buying into a brand before even turning a page or watching a scene. Fine. That’s business! Great!
Books being exciting again, to video game generation kids? Yes. Bingo. Great! All part of the Americanisation of Britain. We deserve it. UK is now a theme park: England-land. The imagery of schools and unis sort of merge into each other, our actors from Theatre maybe do a bit part as a dark wizard for a few quid while the kids make zillions and everything is a theme park franchise. Fine.
What is NOT fine? JK Rowling being stalked, harassed, vilified, ‘cancelled’, denounced. Online. You can criticise her work. I do, and I enjoy doing so. But objectively, the lady cracked a winning formula at the right time with Harry P. And The Casual Vacancy is a truly GREAT novel. Her Cormoran Strike series is a grown up counterpart to her genius in summarising childhood imagination; a definitive pulp labyrinth.
More importantly? JK is radiantly beautiful. There is a vulnerability to those eyes but a steely strength to the sceptical smile. This is every class of person in one: working struggle, middle management, upper to high commanding glamour and glory. To call her a champagne socialist is to so the lady a disservice. A compassionate philanthropist from day one, whilst inspiring enterprise. A tonic to many during Lockdown and democratised the use of Harry Potter IP. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS WOMAN???
Clearly, some think JK committed the worst offence of all. INDICATING WE ACTUALLY HAVE..GENDER! That your male or female biology and chemistry are distinct, even sacred. At no stage does she ever say you cannot or should not be a trans person. READ HER ACTUAL VIEWS you absolute wallies. Her point is that IF we erode the language of gender from our culture, then with that we compromise the language of love. We logically pose a threat to sexuality itself and with that, homo/hetero and all the wonderful varieties of love that offers.
What Jo Rowling is saying, if she’s saying anything at all, is that just because you are experiencing a gender identity change, it need not entail your needing to throw linguistic and aesthetic babies out with bath waters.
If you transitioned from one gender to another, then you must at least recognise the logic OF the gender distinction. It’s an inclusive mission, a love of language and a language of love: not worth attacking a champion of both those forces.
So: Harry Potter, (sorry, Radcliffe..woteva..he’s harry potter..that’s why he is rich, famous and not an extra, auditioning to be the next Ben on Eastenders)..maybe THINK before you write and share something that could ONLY be interpreted as a direct riposte to the woman who made you what you are. Yes, I read the piece. Yes, it’s moderate enough and not prima facie disrespectful. Well done. You no doubt stayed up way past your bedtime to do it and used joined up writing with a proper crayon for the first draft.
But you could and indeed SHOULD have been far more ecstatic and articulate in your praise for JK: a writer, philanthropist, entrepreneur, activist, educator and a woman of uncommon beauty.That would be the truly honourable thing to do here, without ever even having to touch on the trans aware debate. It would also, young man, be the courteous thing. But hey..fame not all it’s cracked up to be, Mr Potter?
Still, Radcliffe is basically a good kid. Works hard at trying to be a good actor. And he is rich and successful, whether he would be without Potter or not.That’s magic! Unlike this (imho) total trolling wally..who also felt the need to have a go at JK. Don’t worry, Ms Rowling..they’re after me, too. Something we have in common. Happy to discuss it over tea. No? Ok..I will disappear..EXPECTROELLIAMUS..
FANTASTIC BEASTS 3 IS IN PRODUCTION. It is better than Harry Potter. And I will love it as should you..