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Monday, October 22, 2007

Ok, I Think Everyone Needs to Get a Grip

What the hell is going on here? J. K. Rowling makes an aside about the backstory of one of her characters-- something that's not mentioned, or even evident in the text of the book-- and people start freaking out.

Right now there are like 40+ comments on two separate posts on Whatever. There's nearly 150 comments on a post @ Making Light. It's making news at E!, Fox, Newsweek and the Washington Post.

What really annoys me is this quote from the AP story with the equally annoying headline "Dumbledore’s outing gives text new meaning"

“Jo Rowling calling any Harry Potter character gay would make wonderful strides in tolerance toward homosexuality,” Melissa Anelli, webmaster of the fan site The Leaky Cauldron, told The Associated Press. “By dubbing someone so respected, so talented and so kind, as someone who just happens to be also homosexual, she’s reinforcing the idea that a person’s gayness is not something of which they should be ashamed.”

Yeah, I would buy that-- if it was part of the effing books! It wasn't. Dumbledore's sexual orientation is so peripheral to his character that it didn't merit a mention. That means that every single person who reads these books from now until the end of literacy as we know it is only ever going to read the character as gay if they've heard about Rowling's aside. Most of the people who have read the books, I daresay most who will ever read the books, aren't going to read about someone "so respected, so talented and so kind, who just happens to be also homosexual." They're going to read about somone "so respected, so talented and so kind, who's sexual orientation is beside the point."

What's more annoying is that if Rowling intended to make some sort of positive message out of Dumbledore's sexual orientation, rather than having it as a background character trait, I don't doubt she would have explicitly spelled it out in the books.

This hubub is saying a lot more about the folks hububing than it is about Rowling, Potter or Dumbledore.


Steve Buchheit said...

Well of course it does. It's a banner both "sides" of this "issue" can raise an wave (note here that the issue has nothing to do with the books). One side waves it as a standard, the other side waves it as a warning flag. It's so much of a contention point that you can almost here the announcer voice saying, "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday at your local metro-dome..." (insert music, "Are you ready for this")

aeros51 said...

Swann, did you expect anything else but this mania from our irrelevant news obsessed media? I've also read all of the Potter novels and I agree that Dumbledore's sexual orientation is very unimportant to his characterization in the story, and nothing that he does (or memories others see) has anything to do with sexuality of any kind. If someone would have asked me what Dumbledore's sexual orientation was, after giving them a really strange look, I would have said that he was asexual due to it's non-existence in the novels.

(spoiler below)
On the other hand, Rowlings does make Snape's heterosexual lust for Harry's mother a centerpiece of why he turned against Voldemort, but where is the sensational media articles on this, especially when he becomes the unsung hero of the series?

Yes, I have nothing better to do today.