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We Have to Talk About J.K. Rowling

I’m sure we can all contest – whether left leaning or right – that the oversaturation of Trump in the news and an inordinate attention to every sneeze, sniffle, and tweet is getting to be overwhelming. But he’s not the only figure flooding our media channels. Call it a sensitivity to overload that Trump has instilled this year, or maybe just spending too much time combing through book news, but it seems J.K. Rowling is in the news every day. We’re in high water with Harry Potter.

Yes, there is… via GIPHY

It’s with a heavy heart that I confess my annoyance. I’ve been a Potter fan since the beginning, skipping school with my parents to get the latest book at the book store or gunning it to a movie release. She’s done an impeccable job creating one of the most endearing cast of characters, investing so much creativity in her compelling universe of wizards and muggles, and beneath the surface plots, talking seriously about depression and family trauma. But enough is enough. Today alone, Rolling Stone, Daily Mail, Hypable and People Magazine have all written articles about her – each one covering a seperate issue. They write about a new eBook series, Rowling’s Twitter response to the Olympics, her popularity as compared to Shakespeare and a handful of other topics. There’s even an Entertainment Weekly column titled “This Week in J.K. Rowling”. It’s ridiculous.

The articles that interested me – or at least cooled my feeling of isolation in my frustration – however, were ones from Time, Elle, Slate and a small handful of others. They all more or less politely said the same thing: how about a time out Rowling?

Let’s chat about it:

The Times discusses Rowling’s Twitter response to a fan asking about Jewish wizards, to which she says her books did hint at religious diversity, and that there was in fact a Jewish professor. Prior to this, she’s told fans, years after her books were completed, that Dumbledore was in fact gay, saying “I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy.” With recent accusations regarding queerbaiting in the Cursed Child, we have no doubt she’ll chime in again – eager to refit her book’s frame to new progressive molds. 

“Rowling has a new-media-era eagerness to amplify her novels into a universe without end, one that can be revised or recast whenever she decides she has a new disclosure worth sharing.” 

According to the Times, Rowling’s bending over backwards to engage with fans and fill in the blanks reflects poorly on her ability to write clearly. The recent onslaught of projects (notably the play) is just a token of her lack of confidence as a novelist. Elle and Slate take greater issue with her public presence than her books’ literary dissonance.

Slate, on Rowling’s Twitter account:

“The illusion of a refined, above-it-all author becomes harder to maintain when that author is slinging half-baked, sporadically interesting tweets 16 hours a day. Gone is the sense of the novelist posting belabored messages that seemed like they had been fished out of bottles that washed ashore—a special kind of loss when that writer is the creator of one of the most airtight, fantastical, fully imagined worlds we’ve ever had.”

Elle, on the online oversaturation more generally:

“These endless additions are all clicks and links and ten million BuzzFeed stories. They don’t enrich the hallowed halls of Hogwarts or illuminate the backstreets of Diagon Alley. They just make what once seemed fairy-dusted and possible into yet another plastic-coated franchise.”

The New York Post? “Stop ruining Harry Potter.” Harsh.

Like any good Potter fan there’s a piece of me (and all of us) that wants her stories to live on. For many a millennial they were synonymous with adolescence. But like pimples and awkward movie dates, some things should be put in the pocket for safe keeping, finished but not forgotten. Too much of a good thing, they say, can make us resent Harry Potter after years of adoration.