Another day, another disappointing tweet, this one from every millennial’s childhood hero, J.K. Rowling.
Over the weekend, Rowling responded publicly to an article about equality after COVID-19 for people who menstruate. She took issue with the wording of the piece and suggested that the article should have just used the word “women” instead.
The Twitterverse immediately blew up in response to Rowling’s comments. Some expressed their support for her point of view, but most took issue with her stance, calling it transphobic and anti-trans. She later doubled down on her comments in a responding thread reaffirming her position.
This is not the first time Rowling has been in hot water because of unfortunate tweets. In December of last year, Rowling faced significant backlash after she tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a known trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF). Many of her trans fans were devastated by these comments, a pain that will likely be compounded by her latest tweets.
Do We Have To Stop Loving Harry Potter Because We Don’t Agree With J.K. Rowling?
J.K. Rowling, of course, is not just your every day Twitter user. She is the author of the deeply beloved and wildly popular Harry Potter series. Her name is connected not only to the series itself, but it’s accompanying films, theme parks, and cultural references. She is a considerable part of so many Millenial and Gen-Z childhoods. The question many of her trans fans and their allies are facing now is can we separate the art from the artist? Do we have to throw away something we love so dearly because of the author’s point of view?
This isn’t a new question. Since the #MeToo reckoning of recent years, many fans of many artists are left wondering where the line is. For some people, it’s not even a question. They can simply boycott the offending artist and move on with their lives. This is much easier when you were never a big fan of the canceled artist in the first place.
For example, cutting off Louis CK was not that difficult for me. I never thought he was funny, so not watching his comedy wasn’t a big loss or a loss at all. J.K. Rowling has a different power over many of us. To say her work is beloved is an understatement.
Harry Potter shaped so many people’s lives. So many people have been inspired by the series and its characters and its themes of friendship and love and acceptance. It is not a perfect work of art, but its a work of art that matters deeply to a whole generation and has been woven into the very fabric of our society.
What Happens Next?
With this particular situation, the art has grown to be something so much bigger than the artist. There is no need to boycott because Rowling’s work does not just belong to her anymore. It belongs to all of us. Yes, if we continue buying her books, we are putting more money in her pocket, and that is the most essential form of support. However, Rowling is already richer than God, and a boycott is unlikely to persuade her to change her ways. If a boycott is unlikely to be effective, there is no point in depriving the world of something truly special.
We should instead reread and rewatch with the knowledge that the author is not a perfect person, and holds some problematic views. We should allow ourselves to remember that the ultimate message of Harry Potter is one of love, and even if the author may have had a limited view of what that means, the rest of us can understand that love and acceptance should apply to everyone, and that Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood would not approve of this.
That being said, if by some wild chance you happen to read this Ms. Rowling, please stop Tweeting. It will be better for all of us.