BY ELENA VALDEZ
It is not uncommon for authors to leave their readers wondering about certain aspects of their characters. In the case of JK Rowling, perhaps it would have been better if these questions were left unanswered.
Nearly 20 years after the release of her very first book, Rowling is in the midst of irrelevance. Time has taken its toll on the author and it’s something she simply cannot accept.
If Rowling truly intended for characters to be a certain way, she would have included it in the original story. The recent add-ons to characters’ personalities and traits are more damaging than anything. The original stories have come to be modern classics, not only due to their extreme popularity, but also because of the many valuable life lessons they contain.
Harry Potter, no matter how beloved, was never diverse. The story is dominated by Eurocentric ideals and heterosexuality. Although the books never explicitly state if a character is of a certain race or attracted to a specific gender, that does not mean there is diversity— just ambiguity.
Sexualizing characters in an attempt to stay relevant is nothing more than a cry for attention.
The failure to acknowledge these specifics has left room for Rowling to comment on these factors now and it is a disastrous thing.
Sexualizing characters in an attempt to stay relevant is nothing more than a cry for attention. Fans across the globe are dismayed by her Twitter replies on Dumbledore’s sexual preferences and intimate relationships. She revealed that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had an “intense” sexual relationship, which is completely unnecessary to the story.
In 2007, during a question and answer session with fans, she revealed that Dumbledore was apparently gay. This, however, was never mentioned or hinted at in the books. For the most part, fans were glad to hear there was queer representation in the wizarding world. But this seemingly misplaced information begs a single question.
Does Rowling really care?
The characters become more diverse with every question asked. Rowling is merely being responsive to her interpretation of what the people are looking for. Her initiative to represent a wider array of people is still lacking— it has been lacking since the publishing of her novels.
Granted, characters lacking detailed descriptions are largely up to interpretation. Readers may choose to envision any hair, skin or eye color that they would like. Once the movies hit the screen, though, it becomes a different story.
Rowling’s lack of distinctions in her original work shows the representation of minorities was never her intention.
The leading cast of Harry Potter was nearly all straight and white. Rowling’s visions of diversity did not exist during casting. It seems the wizarding world has drastically changed since its creation. In a noble quest for equality, Rowling has simply placed labels on random characters to avoid criticism.
It is admirable how thorough she has been, as she has even touched upon class divides and the cost of magic. Rowling claimed in a 2015 tweet that magic was free. Apparently, the only requirement upon entry to Hogwarts is receiving the letter. Quality of education may be relatively consistent, but the treatment of students is so explicitly contradicting.
For example, a character, such as Draco Malfoy, who comes from a pure-blood and wealthy family is treated far differently from the Muggle-born Hermione Granger.
Rowling’s lack of distinctions in her original work shows the representation of minorities was never her intention. Adding on to the story once it is finished and done cannot change the fact that she created a vastly homogenous population within the original.
Rowling may believe she is appealing to a larger audience, however, in making these inappropriate and borderline ridiculous comments, she is losing the audience she already has.
Photo courtesy of Insider