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Discussion: Problematic Favorites, Diversity Outside Canon and Why It’s All So Annoying

Annoying things are happening again which means discussion time.

So let’s talk background. I started reading when I was 5 and one of the first books I ever read was Harry Potter. It really shaped my reading and it’s a series I reread all the time and love so much. I am one of those people with a designated Harry Potter shelf, and whenever I don’t know what to do I just rewatch HP movies. But, god, is J.K. Rowling annoying.

184447-OXLUUL-494So if you haven’t heard yet, news broke out that Dumbledore will not be “explicitly” gay in the Fantastic Beasts 2 movie. Yes. The one with Grindelwald. Yes, the fact that Dumbledore was in love with him shaped a lot of the events and it only makes sense that way. Yup. You’re completely right. You’re just not “explicitly” right, silly.

J.K. Rowling announced back in the day, after the series was over, written, done that Dumbledore was in fact gay, and how she thought it was so obvious and how have we not noticed because it’s you know – so obvious. She even remarked “If I’d known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!”. I can not make that stuff up.

And that’s just the issue. J.K. Rowling is known for declaring things that were never ever said or showed in the books to be true. Dumbledore’s gay, Hermione could have been black etc. That’s just great. You know what’s greater? Actually writing that.

whyitsanissueThis bothers me for a number of reason. It’s because she clearly realizes that her books weren’t that diverse (or not at all, really). She realizes it. Yet she never takes responsibility for it. She just makes you feel stupid with that “Of course he is, why did you not notice it before?”. And yeah, maybe she intended him to be gay, but she wrote it so covertly and subtly, like she was trying to hide it. And if she have just said that she was afraid of the reactions and approached it honestly, that would be fine. But no. She keeps talking about things that she never wrote, trying to cash in on the things she does not deserve.

show donttellMoreover, she now got the opportunity to make this right. Because guess who is writing the script? She is. It just feels super dishonest and everything she says feels so artificial and I just really, really dislike it. There was an opportunity there for her to finally walk the walk, instead of just talking, and she did not do it. And of course, she’s not the one making all the decisions. But if she’s always on Twitter yapping her mouth off about being supportive, why not actually do it. Or maybe Johnny Depp is so disgusting no one can possibly act in love with him?

manipulationListen, I was represented in Harry Potter. I saw myself in it. A lot of people didn’t. And there’s something about the author-reader relationship that bothers me here. It feel like she is exploiting that relationship and using it in the wrong way. And I feel really uncomfortable with that. I wrote about manipulation in books recently, but this goes beyond. This is outside of books and this is something the Internet made possible. So yay?

EDIT: J.K. Rowling tweeted: “Being sent abuse about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that’s only one installment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what’s even *more* fun?” and then a gif of a guy pressing the mute button. I find this to be even more annoying than the rest of the stuff, just because again, she’s shifting the blame towards the fans and it’s really bad. FYI, I think the fact that she’s getting hate and abuse is awful and there are no excuses, but I think she could have approached this more responsibly and could have handled the whole thing better. And not played the same card again. And told the people to wait a little longer. And they already waited 12 years in Azkaban. Hehe get it?

stillAnother thing that surfaced with these events is people again trashing Harry Potter books and people who love them. And weren’t we over that? People can like whatever they want to like. Should they acknowledge their faults? Absolutely. We should also be over being blind to your favorite things being problematic.

anythingtoshareSo I would love to hear from you! Any thoughts you’d like to share on the topic? Are you annoyed by these events? Was this something you expected?

xxx

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50 thoughts on “Discussion: Problematic Favorites, Diversity Outside Canon and Why It’s All So Annoying

  1. i honestly could not agree more with this post. my thoughts exactly. i’m seriously so fucking mad about how dumbledore won’t be “explicitly” gay i can’t even begin to describe oh my god

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you nailed it with “Or maybe Johnny Depp is so disgusting no one can possibly act in love with him?” LMAO no but seriously I agree with every word you said. I owe Harry Potter so much and even if I’ve never been one to really “stan” an author (or anyone really) I’m still so disappointed in JKR. Since being on Twitter I found out all the crap she says and I’m honestly done with her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, yes, I was incredibly annoyed when I heard about this. Because why? Why not include it? It would be such nice representation for people out there AND with the fact that it’s supposedly canon, you think that’d it’d be especially included. Pretty much everyone knows and doesn’t care. SO WHY NOT INCLUDE IT?

    It’s just all so disappointing. I’m not even that excited to watch the movie anymore because it’s basically being ruined. 😩

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah me too! I was so excited for people to get that representation, especially since, like you said, it’s something that J.K. Rowling kept saying was actual canon. It was such a let down, and I can only imagine how people who actually need that representation felt.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think that her response with that gif was the top of it. I don’t even feel like being sorry for her. Also because it was so easy to express people that are sending her bad stuff – people do that all the time – and concerned, even bitter fans, that at this points have all the rights to get critize her. Also because all the signal where on Twitter since ages.
    There were so many ways to handle the situation. Make a statement. Wait a moment to clam down – because she’s clearly not calm right now – and see to do not ruin the situation further. I don’t even understand how she came up with that

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES. I have written up this post before that tweet and once I saw it I was so angry I couldn’t talk about it more than in the tiny paragraph. I think her response was so nonchallant and just so sarcastic and bitter. Plus again with the just you wait, like people waited for The Cursed Child which was a queerbaiting mess? And even if she did not feel she did anything wrong, I personally feel this is bad marketing and even from a business stand point she just failed and made a mess? I don’t know, I am super frustrated by it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, diversity really can’t be implied. Especially when it isn’t implied in the text, it’s explicitly said by her online and outside the text. Which is frustrating. And I agree definitely! I think she was trying to wash her hands and ended up not managing which again leaves her trying to justify her actions. It’s a cycle that could have been ended by actually making diverse content, but what do I know

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a terrific post! Yes, I totally agree she could’ve handled this better. I’ve always hated how JK Rowling changed things about the series without making it canon, but I tried to understand from her POV that perhaps she really did have these character traits in mind when writing the series but just decided not to touch on them. After all, if Dumbledore’s’s sexuality isn’t relevant to the story, then I understand why she didn’t feel the need to bring it up (even in the case of Fantastic Beasts).

    But her blase reaction to people’s desire to see themselves represented is really quite dismissive. She could literally give the argument I gave above or another legit reason for her decisions, but she’s being so passive-aggressive about her stance that even I (who’s put myself in her shoes) is finding her irredeemably arrogant. Really disappointing. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am not entirely understanding of her POV for a number of reasons. I feel like if she had those traits in mind, but was afraid of showing them openly (it was 1997), I don’t think her way of handling it is great. She is someone who made the fans feel silly for not maybe noticing Dumbledore was gay, when she really did not write him that way. To me it seems like she wants to cash in on diversity, without doing the work. And I think that people’s sexuality, or race, or nationality don’t have to be relevant to the plot to be represented. I don’t think that if it isn’t relevant to the plot that everyone should be white or straight, you know? I actually like seeing diversity just because it’s a representation of the world, without the book actually being about said diverse trait. And I completely agree, she is so passive-agressive and dismissive that I think it’s really bad.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No, that’s exactly how I feel. I don’t like how casually she mentioned Dumbledore was gay, because if she chose not to address this due to societal stigma back then, then she should’ve stuck to that plan. It’s a bit of a copout pretending like she was progressive all along when in fact she chose not to act. As you say, she’s cashing in instead of taking an actual stance on diversity.

        Oh, and for sure! There should definitely be representation regardless of whether it’s relevant to the story or not. I simply meant that sexuality isn’t a visual thing, you know? You can SEE people of color and perhaps even someone’s nationality in their culture, but people have to TELL you they’re gay in order for you to know. Therefore, I just don’t see where in Fantastic Beasts Dumbledore can outright say he’s gay without it being a throwaway line. Maybe they can imply it with Dumbledore and Grindelwald looking at each longingly, but otherwise, I’m not seeing any other way. Would love to hear your thoughts on that!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I get it, that is an interesting point. However, I think that big part of the reason why Dumbledore was obsessed with Grindelwald WAS because he was in love with him, or at least infatuated. And I think romantic tension can be pretty obvious and portrayed with out him saying “WOMEN YUCK” or him wearing “GAY” on his robe haha. But you are definitely right about it being harder to portray. But the term explicitly just seems to me like there won’t be ANYTHING about it, not even those longing stares.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ahhh, that’s very true! My mind was only on the track of Dumbledore having to spell his sexuality out, but now that I think about it, they totally can (and should) find some way to imply it at the very least. Hopefully they find it in themselves to do so; JK Rowling’s comments about Dumbledore have been so inconsistent, it’s really been quite infuriating for everyone. XD

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ugh, I’m so with you, and this whole debacle happening all over again just feels exhausting. They’ve had so many chances to put it right given how much the canon universe has been expanded upon, and to pass up another one of those opportunities for no reason is incredibly frustrating. They’re speaking as though they’re waiting for some big reveal later in the FB series, but if it’s already common knowledge and no big deal that Dumbledore is gay, like they keep implying, why not just reference it in the canon?

    I love J.K. Rowling and so much of what she says/does/stands for, and will always have respect and admiration for her because of what she created with the Wizarding World. BUT, the way she responds to criticism sometimes is frankly childish: Blocking people on twitter, lashing out, blaming others, and generally coming across as blunt and uninterested. Someone with so much privilege could at least be a little more open to and humbled by criticism, especially when it’s coming from the people who handed her that privilege. That said, she doesn’t deserve to be hounded online – no one does. And it’s also worth remembering that as powerful as Rowling is, even she must answer to editors and publishers sometimes.

    As for the whole Dumbledore thing, the word ‘explicitly’ really annoyed me. We’re not asking for full-frontal sex scenes for crying out loud; a single passing reference to him being gay in conversation would be fine. And also, is he the only gay in the Wizarding World? Why must all queer representation rely on and revolve around him? God forbid they introduced a new queer character! Rowling constantly reiterates that ‘everyone’ is welcome at Hogwarts; that sexuality is a non-issue in the Wizarding World, and that Dumbledore being gay is no big deal, and yet she/her editors/ her publishers STILL refuse to just make it canon.

    I wish I could remember who said it, but I saw a quote once along the lines of: ‘We knew Angelina Johnson was black because J.K. Rowling told us she was black. We knew Hermione was white because J.K. Rowling didn’t tell us she was black.’ And that’s very reflective of representation in HP. (In fact, she specifically referred to Hermione’s ‘white face’ in one of the books, so she was backtracking there anyway – not that the casting of a black actress bothered me in the slightest.) The sad reality of our society is that everyone is assumed straight, white and able-bodied by default, until stated otherwise. Rowling has been around enough to know this, and it’s time she put her money where her mouth is and WROTE that Dumbledore is gay, instead of just tweeting about it.

    It’s not only okay to recognise that you’re favourite things are flawed – it’s important to do so. I ADORE Harry Potter and always will, but it distinctly lacks diversity and representation of POC and the LGBT+ community. That’s a fact. It’s definitely NOT okay to attack people for loving it because of those flaws, but it is okay to point them out and ask for better moving forward.

    (Sorry about the length of this comment – I got carried away, haha. GREAT POST.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING THE TIME TO WRITE OUT THIS COMMENT, I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT. I agree with you on all points entirely. Of course she doesn’t deserve online abuse, no one does, but the way she handles herself online is really aggravating. And of course she was backtracking. I LOVED that a black actress was portraying Hermione, but she should not take credit for that in the way she did. I feel like if she said that the HP books weren’t diverse but that now she is talking a stand and repairing that I would have had a lot more respect for her. Maggie Stiefvater talked about how one of her characters (who is really angry and violent) is constantly fan cast as black more often than the rest She was talking how problematic that was and she said how she failed in making the story more racially diverse (she has LGBTQ+ main characters) and that the readership should hold her to a higher standard and better writing. And I just have far more respect for that than the offhand thing J.K. Rowling does. Oh and that thing where it will happen in the next installments? So ridiculous. Thanks again for the comment so much, super insightful!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem, your post was great and really got me thinking!

        So true. Readers have every right to hold writers accountable. The thing that really gets me about it all as well is that it’s constructive criticism, not harsh or uncalled for criticism. Including more diversity would make the series better, and would make a lot of people love and respect it (and Rowling) even more. It makes no sense for Rowling and the rest of the HP team to be so defensive and dismissive every time the issue is brought up, especially since it’s one that could be so easily rectified.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally get where you are coming from. I love Harry Potter books but I wish she had written all that stuff in the books before saying it after the books were over. How were we supposed to know Hermione is black. Okay so I have an unpopular opinion, I love Harry Potter but I feel the whole book series is being milked, more films, now a TV series in the works, the screenplay of Harry Potter which actually won a goodreads award when there were so many actual books in the category, then the new editions of books that keep coming out. I’m not hating, I’m just saying I feel the books are being milked out. I want more Harry Potter but there is a point it gets boring. Great discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think part of the problem is that diversity in books has only really been recognised in the last few years. And when HP was written and published, it wasn’t common for books, particularly low YA books, to feature minorities. I’m not saying that is right or completely excuses the low diversity in HP, I’m just saying I can understand why Rowling wrote the books the way she did, and why there aren’t many diverse characters in them.

    And because HP is still so popular now when everyone is talking about diversity, it kind of highlights the lack of minorities in the books. But you’re completely right – the way Rowling has handled it is really poor. And actually the way she tries to make characters more diverse POST publishing, and then refuses to include that diversity in future canon material is wrong, and actually quite manipulative and almost offensive to those minorities. Like, yeah we can “pretend” outside of the material that Dumbledore was gay, but that’s not good enough to be included in the new films.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually agree with you, I think it was very reflective of the time and I am not blaming her for that. I just don’t like the way she approaches it. And like you said, if the books weren’t diverse in the beginning, don’t make them diverse post publishing on Twitter, and then not include the diveristy in future canon projects, it’s tacky and dismissive and it feels like she does it for popularity instead of doing it because it’s important and matters. And exactly, it’s just not good enough.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I honestly think she could have made the whole situation fine if she basically said “yeah, my books weren’t diverse and I’m sorry, but I will try to include more diversity in future projects”. Literally that’s all it takes!!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. My two cents about this first bashing is never all right with me. Two why do we NEED absolutely to have diversity? I mean I love it when we have diversity and it’s well done but if it’s not present and the book is good that’s fine with me. I’m under the impression that nowadays it’s a necessity to be “in” and be diverse. THAT bothers me as sometimes authors introduce “dievrsity” but it’s just an excuse to be “hype” and it does not serve the book’s plot. Now this si a very interesting (and controversial) discussion LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not really sure how to respond to that. I feel that I, as a cis hetero white female get all the representation I need. But whoever doesn’t fall into that group doesn’t. I feel like seeing yourself in a book is really important. Seeing your experiences reflected is also really important. Reading a book where there’s no mention of anyone except the cis hetero people is I believe not only devastating for the person who isn’t that, but also unrealistic. So I would say we do need diversity. I don’t think that diversity is a trend, I think people are just more conscious of the need for it now. Although, I agree that some people (like J.K. Rowling) use it as a trend and don’t deliver on it. And yeah, I can like a book if it’s not diverse, but I will always notice if a book only features white, or heterosexual characters. And also, if you’re gonna say that a person is gay to be “popular” then you should make them gay when you get the chance.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You do have very valid points there. It must indeed be disheartening if you never see or not often books featuring people “looking” like you. I mean that characters must be relatable. You are also right in “owning” what you wrote and not do it covertly. What I meant to say is that diversity is of course really welcome but does not have to feel “forced”. if the author can’t write properly about gay or lesbian I’d rather prefer that she does not write than have a “carricature” of it. Once again thanks for opening the discussion!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes I agree with that! I always felt like no representation was better than bad representation, but talking to people who actually need representation, they say that they prefer bad rep to no rep? Like it’s better to at least see a sterotype than nothing at all. I can’t speak on that, but that’s what some of my friends seem to say, but I can’t speak on that. I actually feel that your point is really applicable to mental health rep. That’s something I feel should not really be written unless it’s right

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  10. I agree with everything you said. If she had just owned up to it and tried to do better, I wouldn’t have any problem with it. But instead she acts so passive-agressive and like it’s the fans fault for not seeing it and acting like we shouldn’t be mad about this? I’ve read some people say that they did figure out Dumbledore was gay before Rowling announced it, but even if some people DID see it, that doesn’t mean it’s good rep? I get that maybe her agent or publisher or whatever was against it, but just honestly say so and try to do better with Fantastic Beasts 2. Or if she’s still not allowed to write him as gay because the studio doesn’t want to miss out on the money of certain countries, than just say so? There’s no need to hide that we all know that it’s all about the money anyway. It’s just so frustrating I kinda wish she’d delete her Twitter account and just shut up and let me love my books in peace haha. At this point I completely detached her from the books though, as she’s getting more and more problematic (though she was probably always this problematic but is just showing it more and more) and the way she treats her fans?? Yikes
    Anyway, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you said. I honestly feel like she’s one of those people that was “woke” in the 90s but now has no desire to learn and grow and amend her problematic attitudes. And yeah, it’s possible that it wasn’t her decision, but then she should not be passive agressive and just dismissive and act like it’s okay that Dumbledore might be gay in the upcoming movies. That’s just lazy and rude. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. YES TO ALL OF THIS!
    I’m so sick of queer-baiting and I super sick of JK Rowling and her bs. I think it might bother me even more that she refuses to own up to any of her mistakes. It’s one thing to fuck up, its another to not being able to admit and apologize and try and be better.
    I first read the Harry Potter books in my senior years of high school, pre-feminist me, and haven’t read them since but I did recently buy the full set so I’ll be interested to see how I feel about them now that I’m far more aware of problematic shit.
    It’s really upsetting knowing that someone you looked up to isn’t someone you’d actually get along with in person, its just so disappointing.
    The whole Johnny Depp thing really gets on my nerves as well, being an abuse survivor with many family members being abuse survivors as well. It’s disheartening to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally feel you. I think her saying, yes my books aren’t diverse, but let’s all strive towards more diversity in books would have been so much better than her just going off every chance she gets. And the Johnny Depp thing is a mess, but that issue is way bigger than J.K. Rowling and has a lot to do with Hollywood and all of its bs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! It’s really not that hard to do the right thing 😫
        Yeah that’s true, it’s just particularly upsetting I think because her books talk about abuse, and made people who have been abused to feel less alone, so it stings a bit more.

        Liked by 1 person

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