Saturday, November 10, 2007

This Was Probably Inevitable

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past three weeks, you've probably heard that J.K. Rowling recently announced that her character Dumbledore was gay. This announcement annoyed me for a number of reasons: first, her revelation does not inform one's reading of the texts in any way - it offers no insight into the Dumbledore character's motivations. Second, it is unclear what the word "gay" even means in the novels' fantastic, semi-mythological context. Third, the announcement seemed to me to be cynical and self-serving, in that it was calculated to increase sales among a specific demographic and to get her series - which, lest we forget, is now complete - back into the headlines.

Most importantly to me, it sounded like a clear attempt to bait religious conservatives, who have long objected to the Harry Potter series on the grounds that the magic its characters practice is akin to witchcraft. I have long considered the deliberate creation of artificial controversy to the hallmark of such marginally talented hacks as Madonna, Ken Starr, and the artistic director of the Brooklyn Museum. I had hoped that J.K. Rowling - creator of the most beloved children's books since . . . Theodore Geisel? C.S. Lewis? E.B. White? Hans Christen Andersen? - was better than that. Its entirely possible that she still is, but her remarks left a bitter taste in my mouth.

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