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Jewish World Review
Oct. 26, 2007
/ 14 Mar-Cheshvan 5768
Was This Outing Really Necessary?
I have never read a Harry Potter book, never had any interest in them. I did see the first movie and was not too impressed by it; it seemed to me to be a mediocre kid picture - heavy on the special effects, light on the intellect with nothing much there for me. But if kids like it, well okay, fine. I figured the books must be the same sort of thing - kid stuff in the manner of say, the L. Frank Baum Oz books. The movie I saw was definitely no Wizard of Oz, I can tell you that.
As more and more Potter books and movie sequels came out, some parent groups started complaining that the property was anti-Christian and pro-witchcraft. Potter fans said it wasn't true that the Potter stories were pro-witchcraft; in fact they said that the stories had traditional good versus evil messages and besides, the mere fact that these books got kids interested in reading again was a very good thing.
I really had no idea who was right in this debate, never having read the books, seeing only the one picture, and frankly, not much caring about the entire matter one way or the other. I was certainly aware of one thing, however - Harry Potter was a tremendous phenomenon, immensely popular with millions of children around the world. The writer of the books was English authoress, J.K. Rowling, who suddenly became famous and incredibly rich from the property. She was and is a real life super-heroine to her many young fans, going to book signings, conducting speaking tours, and attending the other usual public relations events.
And then on October 20th on a Friday night in New York City, a whole new chapter opened up in the Harry Potter chronicles. Appearing at a full house at Carnegie Hall, J.K. Rowling told her fans that the character Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is homosexual.
Rowling first read from the final book in the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," then she took questions from audience members. One fan asked if Dumbeledore ever finds "true love," to which the authoress responded, "Dumbledore is gay." Some in the audience gasped, others applauded.
Then Rowling explained that Dumbledore was infatuated with the character of Gellert Grindelwald, a rival whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down." She said Dumbledore's love was his "great tragedy." Then, as if realizing that she had divulged something she shouldn't have, said, "Oh, my god, the fan fiction." And then she laughed.
Rowling told the crowd that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," she noticed a reference in the script to a girl who once was of interest to Dumbledore. She had a note passed to director David Yates, revealing the truth about her character being a homosexual so that the script could be changed.
The Carnegie Hall appearance was the tail end of Rowling's short "Open Book Tour" of the United States, her first tour here since 2000. She also said that she has always regarded her Potter books as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority." Noting that not everyone has liked her books, Rowling said that her news about Dumbledore will give them one more reason not to like her work.
It may be that J.K. Rowlings has strong feelings about homosexual acceptance in society. But so what? In writing the characters for her books she may have felt that it was important to assign sexual preferences for them, although she never spelled out what those preferences were in her books, so what's the point? And why did she feel it was important to announce the homosexual proclivities of a main character in children's fiction to her young fans? For what purpose? Does knowing this help kids appreciate the stories more? I think not. These are fictional stories for children, for heaven's sake, why introduce the whole homosexual thing into it at all? And you know what? Not all aspects of a fictional character's personality need to be exposed anyway.
Why should anyone care about the sex lives of people in the Harry Potter books? Do I care what the Wizard of Oz did on the weekends or who he did it with? Do I need to know that the Cowardly Lion was gay? Or if the Tin Woodman was impotent? Is it important for me to be told that the Wicked Witch of the West was a lesbian? Or that Auntie Em was doing the farm hand on the sly because Uncle Henry had E.D.?
In a world where the innocence of children is being assaulted on a daily basis from every direction, J.K. Rowling had a chance to take a higher road. Children grow up too fast nowadays. They are handed adult problems and hang-ups way too soon. She might have gone against the tide of cultural progressive dogma and allowed her young readers their chance to enjoy pure imaginative fiction in a make-believe world far, far away from contemporary realities. She might have - she could have - but in the final analysis, she chose not to. She opted instead to join other liberal voices who happily shove their views of gender diversity and homosexual acceptance into the easily influenced minds of kids.
What a pity.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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© 2006, Greg Crosby