Opinion

Should The Boy Who Lived Finally Die? Is J.K Rowling Is Ruining Harry Potter?

Harry Potter played a huge role in my childhood, it was something I thought would always be part of my life. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to have concerns about the franchise, which is still as strong as ever after all this time. There is something my younger self never thought I would utter: is it time for the Boy Who Lived to finally die?

[Note: I originally wrote this post in 2018, but have updated it several times over the years to address new developments. This is my own personal option as a former fan on those things.]

The Boy Who Lived

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When Deathly Hallows Part 2 came out, I thought that was the last bit of Harry Potter content until the inevitable remake. I was sad at the thought of no longer having it to look forward to. 

The first film came out when I was 5 so I spent every year of my childhood looking forward to the next movie. I put off reading the books until after they all came out so I could stay immersed in the Wizarding World for as long as possible. I could not have been more wrong about it being the end. Pretty soon we had Pottermore, Universal, and more.

Since 1997, Harry Potter has been non-stop. It refuses to die. It can’t die. 

The Wizarding World Disappointments

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Personally I was a little disappointed by Pottermore as I was hoping for a MMORPG game. Then, I learned I wanted to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando one day. Now, in a very short period of time, we have Cursed Child, the Fantastic Beasts series, and games like Hogwarts Mystery.

For many fans, Cursed Child feels like fan-fiction, and hard to consider cannon. Crimes of Grindlewald broke existing cannon with the inclusion of Professor McGonagall. I think Hogwarts Mystery was wasted potential.

It feels sloppy.

The Loss Of A Hero

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A lot of the fanbase no longer look up to J.K. Rowling due to her views on the transgender community, myself included.

As a child, she was one of my heroes. All the odds were against her. She was a single mother who left an abusive relationship, struggled with her mental, was poor, and The Philosopher’s Stone was rejected 12 times. It really was a rags to riches story.

Those things can’t be taken away from her. I don’t wish ill on her, or think sending anyone threats of violence is acceptable. Her opinions on the trans community are simply something I can’t stand by.

Part of growing up is realising that your heroes are only human – and sometimes, that they’re not who you thought they were. Sure, no one is perfect and people can grow. I have plenty of qualms about cancel culture, but this is a line for me.

Trans women are women, that’s just something I can’t agree to disagree on.

The Death Of The Author

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When having a conversation with Amy from writersblockwhat, the concept of Death of the Author came up. I think it’s particularly relevant to J.K Rowling.

For those who don’t know what the Death of the Author is, it’s a literary term derived from Roland Barthes’ essay of the same name. Death of the Autor means the author’s background and opinions should have no relevance how readers perceive the text. Once you’ve published something, it’s out in the world for the reader’s to interpret.

I feel like J.K. Rowling tainted her own work by commenting on things she regretted doing, or revealing character details way after the books have come out. It was just one of those things that slightly soured my love of the franchise.

Representation

Hermoine being played by a Black actress in Cursed Child is great. Hermoine’s physical appearance doesn’t have any bearing on the plot. I have no issue with the Cursed Child play casting.

J.K Rowling tweeted that, Hermonie’s skin colour was never specified in the books. As Book Riot put it, the text of the Harry Potter books suggests Hermoine is white with dark, bushy hair. With other characters, their skin colour or ethnicity is more explicit, like Dean Thomas and Angelina Thompson. I think it would have been more sincere to simply say she liked the casting and welcomed the diversity, and leave it at that. 

Again, of course, as Death of the Author says, readers are free to have their own interpretations. I’ve seen fans suggest the text implies Harry is bisexual and even that Snape is trans.

While I also know she doesn’t have full control over Fantastic Beasts, it was frustrating that Dumbledore a canonically gay character, was in love with Grindelwald, yet I felt the film kept skirting around it in Crimes of Grindelwald. Years ago, creators had to be more discreet about LGBTQ+ representation, but these days, tip-toeing around it just doesn’t feel good enough. You might be interested in my queer YA books list where I touch on Bury Your Gays.

[Disclaimer: I stopped following the Fantastic Beasts films after Crimes Of Grindelwald, and updated this post around that time. Honestly, I don’t know what happened in later films.]

The Bottom Line: Is J.K. Rowling Ruining Harry Potter?

For me, the magic is gone.

You can separate the art from the artist, as Death of the Author suggests. These days, due to celebrity culture and social media, we know so much more about creators, that people find it harder to view them as separate entities.

As I said, I have lots of concerns about cancel culture, so I don’t expect public figures to never make mistakes, and there are things we can agree to disagree on, but when it comes to Harry Potter, there is too much for me to overlook. Plus, many trans activists have asked for allies to stop supporting the franchise, and I want to stand with them.

If you were also a die-hard Potterhead, has your relationship with the franchise changed?

did j.k rowling ruin harry potter?

11 thoughts on “Should The Boy Who Lived Finally Die? Is J.K Rowling Is Ruining Harry Potter?

  1. I agree that it’s overkill as well. As much as I want the magic of HP to be kept alive, I don’t think this is the way to do it. They should have just kept replaying them on ITV!

  2. Thanks for this, and sadly I think you’ve got a point here 😔

    I’ve been to Orlando – you get to go on the Hogwarts Express! 😍 I’m yet to go to the Watford studios but I’m very tempted to go this Christmas when they’re making it all snowy ✨

  3. Harry Potter will hold a special place in my heart. It is the reason why I got into writing and literature. I wouldn’t be doing my Master degree, if it wasn’t for Harry Potter. But, J.K. Rowling needs to stop

  4. I have such a agree/disagree feel with this. I love harry potter. They did an amazing job with the movies and books. When I found out they were bringing out the fantastic beasts series, I was skeptical. But so far the first one was really good, and the second one is even better. I really actually liked the idea of making a story in the same world as harry potter, but without harry potter. I also love the parks, they’re amazing! It’s like my 10 year old dream come true. I can’t wait to go back, and if I do, I want to dress up! Great post, while I love what they’re doing so far, I also get nervous that she’s going to ruin everything too xx

    Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com

  5. Great post Aisling! I totally agree. I loved the Harry Potter books when I was a kid. My friends and I would go out in Harry Potter robes often on Halloween. I feel so done with it because of the fandom, JK Rowling, and the fact that corporations won’t let it go already. I want to see new stuff and originality in Hollywood.

    Part of it I think is because I’ve grown up. I’m not 10 anymore. Another thing is that all series and franchises need to come to an end eventually. I’d rather a series end on a strong note than keep going and become a shell of its former self.

    1. Hollywood is obsessed with nostalgia and remakes that there’s almost nothing new. People love and respect Lord of the Rings because it was left alone (3 hobbit movies was pushing it, but at least it was based on an already existing book)

  6. I have to admit, I agree. I love JK Rowling for creating this world, don’t get me wrong. She changed my childhood and life for the better. I loved the books, the movies, and don’t get me started on the Wizarding World parks- it’s like stepping into the movies! But I agree that Cursed Child was just fan fiction, and awful at that. I almost found it very disrespectful that grown Harry had to see the events of his parents dying. Plus, I thought JK Rowling always wanted Harry to have a normal, happy life at the end of the books, so why bring poor Harry back to deal with his idiot son and friend? Plus, she’s really putting her foot in her mouth (that’s putting it VERY mildly) with all of her tweets lately.

    And I personally really liked the first Fantastic Beasts movie, but I did not like Crimes of Grindelwald. The first movie honestly could have been a stand alone. I think JK should just let Harry be and live his life and maybe move on to different things. If nothing else, she could just write more Hogwarts schoolbooks so we can finally have things like Hogwarts, A History. That’s all I want, not Cursed Child or anything like that.

    Really good post!!!

    Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com

    1. I’ll always love what she created and my childhood was so magical, but exactly, she’s putting her foot in her mouth. Which is sad because I adore Newt and love that Eddie Redmane and Erza Miller are in the Wizarding Worlds, they just got the short end of the stick of a tainted franchise.

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