J.K. Rowling has been overtaken by dementors of her own making. After committing the grave sin of defending a woman who stated that transgender women are biologically male, the British author is being dragged on Twitter and beyond by many of those who, prior to last week, were her greatest admirers. Rowling’s dramatic fall from grace is a sign that her semi-divine status has been a colossus with feet of clay all along.
Since its debut in 1997, Harry Potter has been the best-selling book series in history, encompassing about a half a billion tomes. The first book alone sold more than 120 million copies—or quadruple that of a true political masterpiece, “1984.” Rowling went from almost homeless to a billionaire practically overnight.
Of course, the original texts that spawned a film and media franchise weren’t meant to be a blueprint for political change, but for far too many young people that’s exactly what happened.
For all of its fanciful settings and adventures, Harry Potter attracted both kids and one of the most toxic fan bases known to humankind. The mythos of Pottermania even inspired almost spiritual fervor.
In the absence of true religion, people tend to fill that part of their psyche with something else, even unintentionally. This isn’t a tract on the early 2000s wave among some Christian leaders who believed Harry Potter’s magic was somehow a pact with the devil. Instead, many in the sub-30 generation made a god in their own image: one suppressive to outside thought and that papers hard questions over with a Latin-sounding spell.
Part of the problem with a generation of young people who replaced scripture readings with excerpts from Harry Potter in church is that Rowling’s role was less of a latter-day prophet than an apostate. After all, the universe even spawned college courses where you can replace learning anything useful with studying about the lightning-scarred wizard.
The tremendous overuse of Potterisms reached its crescendo during the Trump years. Bereft of more adventures of Harry and his wizard friends, the fiction books intended for children soon became a vehicle to mock the role of the 45th president. The derisive memes were endless, and the author herself even got in some cheap shots.
Far too many signs referencing Voldemort paired perfectly with p-ssy hats at protests, especially considering that Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe called Trump worse than the main villain of his adventures and that scienceTM proved HP readers were more likely to declare Orange Man Bad. The over-the-topness of the political use of the book inspired some backlash, including a meme asking the Potter super fans to “read another book.”
All of this angry sentiment came to a head this month. The author defended Maya Forstater, a woman who was dismissed from her job for saying transgender women are biological men.
Rowling wrote on Twitter, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya.”
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 19, 2019
So what happens when Rowling actually tweets scientific facts about sex? The same people who spent days laboring on an original Potter reference for their protest signs have called for her literary exile, labeling the author a “cruel,” “transphobic” “bigot.” Too much ink has been spilled over the last week claiming Rowling is now Voldemort Junior.
Perhaps, as Vox paid a 19-year old intern to write, it’s because of the toxic British culture that just rejected Jeremy Corbyn. Or, as CNN opined, it’s a red letter day for understanding anti-LGBT bigotry. Perhaps upon further thought, declared Vice, Rowling’s writings underlined a deep hatred of the intersex all along. The Washington Post understands that even though their owner got rich off of the sales of Potter books on Amazon, Rowling has finally disconnected from her audience.
After all, HP lore has mythical powers to some readers. For example, if it helped you come out as transgender, as one op-ed in The New York Times declared, the author’s tweet is a betrayal of the first order.
It’s made even worse by the fact that Rowling isn’t backing down. She declined a request to meet with transgender activists selected by the activist group GLAAD. Furthermore, her biggest backers, like Mark Hamill, have been forced by the Twitter mob to apologize for even liking her tweet. Now that she’s lost Luke Skywalker, the Potter creator’s playing a role in destroying two geek fiction franchises.
Where the recent controversy goes is anyone’s guess. As long as Rowling doesn’t bow down to the inquisition, she is likely going to lose the shine off her former prestige amongst the social justice warrior crowd. Much like the characters in her novels, this time her monsters are of her own making.