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How DARE you tell J.K. Rowling what not to write

How DARE you tell J.K. Rowling what not to write published on 1 Comment on How DARE you tell J.K. Rowling what not to write

The final novel in the Harry Potter series came out almost a decade ago, but because of the extreme success of the series, Rowling can’t write anything down on a napkin in a bar without people wondering what it’s about. The fandom is still active churning out fanfictions. The movie studios are about to launch a trilogy based on the tumultuous life of an author of one of Harry’s textbooks. A play just opened that explores the relationship between Harry and his second son. A new series of short ebooks (which include background information on established characters, as opposed to being short stories with a standard narrative) will come out in September. All in all, it’s glorious to be the kind of Potter fan that likes this kind of transparency in world-building. And yet, there are others who quite vocally don’t want anything else Potter-related to come out at all, and I can see several reasons for this.

Any new information might run counter to internalized prejudices.

One of the main themes of the books is the need to fight against prejudice — in this case, Voldemort valued pure blooded witches and wizards as opposed to those with Muggle ancestry. They were seen as lesser. As the books unfolded, Rowling made it clear that this sort of self-righteousness in the Wizarding World wasn’t limited to Mudbloods, but extended to werewolves, house elves, centaurs, merfolk, etc. To a discerning reader, these lessons do have real life corollaries. And yet, when she was asked about Dumbledore’s past relationships or if he’d ever been married, and she then revealed he was gay, there were fans who erupted in rage and confusion. How could such a great wizard be gay? Instead of recognizing that they shared some of the same kind of prejudices rife in the Wizarding World, and against which Harry Potter fought, some fans grew outraged that they would either 1) have to respect a gay man based on his own merits, or 2) lose all respect for the wizard. Still others were furious that she hadn’t done enough to further the cause by revealing in text that Dumbledore was gay from the outset. Ridiculous, because in many ways, the stories were a love letter to the disenfranchised, the prejudged, and those who are seen as “lesser” by the people in power. The biases Rowling created were fictional — there are no laws restricting where a werewolf may work, but there ARE laws in OUR world that restrict who is allowed to marry. The allegory is clear. There are those who wish to avoid Rowling scraping against their prejudices, and are therefore vocal about silencing her. But they aren’t the only ones.

Any scenes that show happy, canon pairings (i.e. Harry and Ginny, or Ron and Hermione) make it harder to ship anyone else.

This is a VERY real issue. The shipping wars may have taken place online, and were therefore bloodless, but there was a time when those who shipped Harry/Ginny could barely be civil to, or be friends with those who shipped Harry/Hermione. Pretty much every pairing under the sun has been explored (yes, including Voldemort/Lily Luna), but the fact that the epilogue and beyond clearly show couples with strong marriages has caused anguish to those who’d rather the canon ships go down in flames. These people are so deeply in love with the pairing of their choice that they would rather see nothing more of Harry Potter for the rest of their lives than read anything that breaks their rebellious little hearts. But still, the list is not limited here: there are others who feel an even more personal sting than the passionate love for unauthorized pairings.

A few less successful authors are jealous of her success.

Envy is an ugly thing. A few authors on Facebook and Twitter have taken to all but blatantly calling Rowling a has-been. It’s true the the ebooks launching in September will probably sell millions, and authors who can only command a few thousand readers (if that) almost violently offer their own books as alternatives: “If you like Harry Potter, you will LOVE this book full of cliches and cardboard characters!” These authors wish Rowling would stop writing because every time she publishes, that bar of unbelievable success rises even higher. I pity them. To envy is to be human. For every success story, there is backlash, and these authors are part of it. Our society provides the rest.

In this culture where misogyny is just barely kept at bay, the very public success JKR enjoys is considered crass.

It’s no secret that JK Rowling writes under her initials because her publishers advised her she’d reach more of an audience if people could just assume she were male. I’m certain no one saw the success of the Harry Potter books become so immense and so global that keeping that kind of secret was impossible. People bought her books despite knowing she was female because she’d addicted them to finding out what happened next. But after the seventh book ended, the door slammed. Even The Tales of Beedle the Bard (which was published after the pleas of many, many fans) was scornfully called a “cash cow”. People are in awe at the fortune JKR made as a woman, but many believe she should have retired after Deathly Hallows. They see her success as a trick of some sort, and if she continues to be successful, to make money off her words, she is simply milking the cash cow rather than doing what she loves: writing.

Whatever the reason is, it is 100% arrogant to tell a creative person to “Stop. Just stop.” How many of you would dream of telling any other author to just stop writing? I don’t care if you’re prejudiced, if you can’t stand Ron and Hermione’s marriage, if you’re jealous that your books aren’t selling, or if you think she has hit a point that her financial success has become too much. You aren’t her audience. You don’t get to tell her what to do.

All my love,

deadwoodpecker

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