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Niharika Rawat


The Fall From Grace – Is J. K. Rowling No Longer Beloved?verified tick

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6 months ago
6 months ago
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Kingdoms would fall and the planet destroyed before people ever forgot about, or stopped loving, Harry Potter. Such a permanent fixture is the story in our culture today than fewer people on the planet don’t know about the series as compared to those who do. And behind it stands tall its writer, her own story the magical rags to riches as she turned around her struggling life and became a billionaire on the back of her stories. But is the magic fading?

Source - (CBC)


As one of the few ancient beings to still use Tumblr, the mainstay of fandoms, I witnessed a growing trend in the last year. Even as Harry Potter continued to be a top tier fandom in terms of engagement – fanfictions, artwork, keeping up with the actors, etc. continues prolifically even today – more and more people seem to be abandoning their queen, the author J. K. Rowling.

The most visible way in which this was apparent was in something that even made the news. The casting of Johnny Depp as Grindlewald in the Fantastic Beasts series, who was then in the midst of a massive backlash stemming from his alleged abuse of ex-wife. Many were outraged at the casting and demanded Depp’s immediate dismissal, to which Warner Bros and Rowling put forward a statement of support. The movie subsequently did relatively okay, but was the lowest grosser in the Wizarding World franchise, with some fans apparently boycotting the movie (at least refusing to pay to watch it), because of Depp.

Source - (Radio Times)

Another issue that has grated the fans of the Potter series for a long while is the active retroactive changes that Rowling often makes to her canon. Many were initially thrilled at Rowling’s desire and capability to continue adding new scenes and contexts to the books, but over time, the additions seemed almost forced for reasons of money-making or popularity. Since the books were released between 1997-2007, they cannot be found at fault for missing out on issues that have become central to social movements today – adequate representation of LGBTQ and other marginalized communities for example.

Rowling revealed post the release of the last book that headmaster Dumbledore was gay. It had been a source of mixed, but mostly positive reception then, but now, the late addition has come back to bite the author. The five part Fantastic Beasts has already been through two movies, but Dumbledore’s sexuality, and particularly his relationship with Grindlewald (whom many fans assume to be one time lovers) has not been discussed. Movie makers have circumvented questions about depicting Dumbledore’s sexuality, and it is only to be seen if the backlash makes them more open to fixing the narrative. Many however, saw this as a proof that Rowling only ever made these retroactive changes (including declaring that Hermione could have been black or mixed-race despite this never being alluded to), to make her books more diverse and appealing to a newer generation of readers.

Then of course, was the entire fiasco named the Cursed Child. It may be excessive to criticize a work of literature for its contents, but it did seem very significantly out of character for Harry, a child who grew up in an abusive household, constantly lost parental figures and saw the power of love, would ever tell his child ‘I wish you were never born.’

Then of course, are some bizarre additions she has made to the series over the years, pertaining for example, to how young Hogwarts goers explore sexuality, and the methods of, um, disposal that existed before plumbing in the wizarding world.

Source - (Pottermore)

As I said in the beginning of all this, it would be a long, long time before Harry Potter ever beings to occupy something other than centre state in popular culture. But maybe its own author would hasten the process. It would indeed be a shame, because the sheer number of fans who express disappointment in Rowling today are in themselves an example of just how powerful the series is, and how deeply they are attached to it. 

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