*WARNING: Political Views below*
J.K. Rowling has created a Masterclass on “Ruining Your Reputation.” In the early ’00s, she was famous for creating the Harry Potter book series, that not only created a very popular movie franchise, but also a theme park, and reinvigorated the Young Adult Fantasy genre in a massive way. She was public about her views on Gender Equality/Feminism, and she donated enough money that, even though she was a Forbes billionaire in 2011, she actually fell off the list and was a measley multi-millionaire, showing she isn’t particular on status symbols. She was becoming the voice of the youth, of progress, someone we could hold up as our celebrity spokesperson.
Now, J.K. Rowling has ruined her reputation so much, that not only do people not like her, but are boycotting Harry Potter in it’s entirety, which is more than just talk, seeing as how the new Fantastic Beasts movie and a Hogwarts Legacy video game are releasing April 15 and this holiday season, respectively.
How did she ruin her reputation? At first it was her relentless adjusting canon on her Twitter or on Pottermore, but now it’s the blatant racism in the books, and her defiant transphobia.
I Don’t Support J.K. Rowling
The racism wasn’t as obvious when the books were first coming out, probably because the audience were children, and we didn’t know racial prejudices and stereotypes well enough to spot them. However, now that we are adults, we can see that JK’s worldview really influenced her worldbuilding.
The Goblins are some of the most “On the Nose,” if you’ll pardon the expression, of Jewish stereotypes. Big, hooked noses, greedy bankers, “sleepy eyes,” short and stout statures, not only matches traditionally anti-semitic descriptions, but also other obvious Jewish charicatures, like Watto from The Phantom Menace.
Also, in the middle of Gringotts bank in the films, the floor is decorated with a large six-pointed star.
Now, the plot of the new Hogwarts Legacy video game has these goblins as a major story beat.
Q: What are the dangerous threats in the Hogwarts Legacy?https://www.hogwartslegacy.com/en-us/faq
A: The Wizarding World is fraught with dangers including creatures corrupted by a magical force, sinister witches and wizards, as well as a possible mounting goblin rebellion.
Goblins, who seem to have no other job in the Wizarding World, aside from banking, want to rebel, and part of your job in the game is to stop this from happening?
We haven’t even touched the legal slavery of House Elves, or the ridiculous names Rowling gave to non-English characters, like Cho Chang (from China), Seamus Finnegan (from Ireland), Viktor Krum (Bulgarian), Fleur Delacour (French), Anthony Goldstein (Jewish wizard), and Kingsley Shacklebolt (Black wizard). These names have no nuance, and individually might not ring any alarms, but all next to each other you start to notice these are almost cartoon character names.
Also, every character is cis-gendered and heterosexual, as almost every character in any piece of media is. After the final book was published, JK said that Dumbledore was gay all along, and while you can definitely find hints to that in his story, hinting to something, and including it, are not the same thing.
Now, she has made a stand as being a TERF, or a Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminist. This means that even though she strongly supports gender equality, equal pay for equal work, and proper representation, she does not support trans-rights or gender identity.
Her anti-Trans views are so commonly known, that Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, in the middle of his invasion of Ukraine, made a public statement that the way Western media is treating Russia, “cancelling” their culture, is similar to how we are treating J.K. Rowling.
“They’re now engaging in the cancel culture, even removing Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov from posters. Russian writers and books are now cancelled…
Recently they cancelled the children’s writer Joanne [JK] Rowling because she – the author of books that have sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide – fell out of favour with fans of so-called gender freedoms.”Vladimir Putin, Invader of Ukraine
You’d think that if Vladimir Putin is calling you out by name, saying that you and he are in similar situations, that you should probably rethink your situation.
I Still Enjoy Harry Potter
Saying all of this, will I still go see the new Fantastic Beasts movie and play the new Hogwarts Legacy game?
I think I will, yeah.
Some will say that this makes me transphobic, or that transphobia isn’t a deal-breaker for me. They are wrong on both counts, however. I am a firm believer in Trans rights, and refuse to support people who espouse transphobic rhetoric.
However, I do not believe that me spending money on Harry Potter media supports JK Rowling in a significant enough way for me to make a change.
I boycotted Chick-fil-a for about eight years, from 2012 when the CEO made headlines for his homophobic support, paid for by my chicken sandwich purchases. For eight years, I did what the LGBT community said was helpful, because I want to support them. You know what happened? Nothing. It did not stop Chick-fil-a from being homophobic, it did not lessen their support of political hate-groups, all it did was make me bummed I couldn’t have a sandwich, and try to feel superior for it.
The idea that you, as a consumer, should boycott corporations, to make a difference, it’s the same as saying that you should recycle, even if that means driving to your local recycling plant. Yes, it is a good thing to do, but the idea that it makes a fraction of a difference is blatantly wrong. Me throwing away a plastic bottle is not adding to pollution, when Coca-Cola creates the packaging alone of about 200,000 bottles worth of plastic, every minute. Me buying a chicken sandwich does not add to homophobia, when the American Family Association is donating over $1million to political Evangelical movements, and saying that homosexuality is to blame for literal Nazis. And me going to see the new Fantastic Beasts does not add to Transphobia, when JK Rowling is making continual public statements that discriminate the trans community.
If you believe that you should boycott Harry Potter, then I would hope you also aren’t watching The Boys or purchasing anything on Amazon, because Jeff Bezos and Amazon literally works their employees to death. As a consumer, you are not responsible for the actions of CEOs, or IP owners, just because they profit from that which you consume.
If you want to find a solution where you can enjoy the things you want, and not feel like you are promoting agendas you dislike, then imagine that the cost of a movie ticket is higher. However much you pay for your Fantastic Beasts ticket, donate a percentage of that (maybe a good 10%) to The Trevor Project, or a charity focused on the issue you support. If you pay $9/month to watch Amazon Prime, round it up to $10, and send that last dollar to Jobs with Justice to help employees unionize.
The point is, just because someone who controls a company is in opposition to your political views, does not mean you cannot enjoy things. The only person who is hurt, is you.