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
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
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
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
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.
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?