Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sodomy for Kids

Some fictional character has come out of the closet, posthumously, through his creator. I had a hard time writing the sentence that would precisely describe this story, but there it is. If there’s any incoherence in it, any baffling absurdity, I sure assure you that I am entirely innocent – the author started the absurdity herself.
British author J.K. Rowling has outed one of the main characters of her best-selling Harry Potter series, telling fans in New York that the wizard Albus Dumbledore, head of Hogwarts school, is gay.
I can remember hearing people say that the Harry Potter books were not just for kids. They were sufficiently interesting and mature that adults could enjoy them, too. Well, apparently, the books actually portrayed the struggle of a homosexual surrounded by hundreds of little boys and girls at a boarding school. So the books were apparently not meant for kids at all!

The reaction was predictable - this is 2007, remember?
The audience reportedly fell silent after the admission -- then erupted into applause.
But some of the commenters on this item seemed to think Ms. Rowling an incredibly brave person:
Very brave of Rowling I suppose
Er, well, I don't see how, but perhaps I am just an evil reactionary. First, there's the issue of all that utterly predictable applause Ms. Rowling got when she made this revelation. If you say something or do something which you know your audience will lap up happily, then your bravery is very attenuated indeed. That is a polite way of saying that the commenter is an idiot, and that what she did wasn't brave in the least. Second, people typically ascribe bravery to the coming-out act because an outed homosexual will, presumably, be subject to discrimination, mockery, and general social discomfort. By telling the truth about himself even when it has painful consequences, he is doing the right thing and being brave by doing it. Ms. Rowling is outing someone else; actually, she's outing a fictional character. What could possibly be brave about doing that? It stretches the whole origin of the "it's brave to out yourself" idea, which is itself, in the year 2007, somewhat dubious. The only possible way this makes Ms. Rowling brave is if she always "knew" that Dumbledore was gay, and partook vicariously in his struggle to conceal it. Well, then she's psychotic. Dumbledore isn't real. In fact, I'm told he's actually killed sometime in the series of books, so that it's more correct to say "Dumbledore was gay" than "Dumbledore is gay." It's most correct to say "This is a fictional universe and I'm not going to discuss these stupid, one-dimensional characters as if they were in any way real."

Here's another bizarre comment, and note that it's from a Canadian, so you can't blame stupidity solely on Americans:
Good for Ms. Rowling. She's always made peoples skin colour, religion, etc. secondary to the characters actions, so is merely doing the same with one of her characters sexuality.
Oh, I see. She made his sexuality secondary by announcing it publicly and making a to-do about it. They must have different rules of inference up north, and logic must be a fascinating subject.

Oh, did I say earlier that the characters were one-dimensional?
"This is even more awesome because it adds another layer to Dumbledore's character, which is already so rich and complicated. I hope he got over Grindlevald (sic) and fell in love again," wrote Amanda.
I guess he's one-dimensional with an extra layer of "likes men" now. He was already rich and complicated, though, so this extra layer may just make the books impossible for most to understand. Only the wise few will be able to explain that a kid finds out he's a wizard, then goes to school. Whew, that was complicated. What's with the "sic"? Poor Amanda misspelled a fake wizard's name, and we have to embarrass her for it? For shame, Canada.


At 10:59 PM, October 24, 2007 , Blogger Nick Milne said...

They say that not having read the books makes it difficult to intelligently discuss them. Alas! It seems they were right.

At 12:16 PM, October 25, 2007 , Blogger Vernunft said...

"The books" is a sufficiently ambiguous term that I am sure that I have both read and not-read the books. That is, I read the first three; does it get extraordinarily deeper after that?

At 7:41 PM, October 25, 2007 , Blogger Nick Milne said...

I'm afraid it does; the first three are literally aimed at children. This changes entirely and forever half way through the fourth book, and by the time the series concluded the author felt confident that she could frame the final book with passages from Aeschylus and William Penn and have the inclusions be understood.

We would not be spending so much time on this if the series maintained the tenor of the first three books. They're froth; pleasant froth, but froth nonetheless. However, as with the head on a glass of beer, what follows is something else entirely.

At 8:15 PM, October 25, 2007 , Blogger Vernunft said...

Oh, well, that is literally the most unfortunate coincidence in human history. This woman happened to write just enough in the first three books to waste all my patience with the whole series; and what you are telling me is that my patience could not have worn out at a worse time.

Well, hey, why is Dumbledore gay, though? Isn't that still insane?

At 10:47 PM, October 25, 2007 , Blogger Nick Milne said...

Yes, that is unfortunate!

And yeah, it's sort of weird. As to "why" he's gay, I have no idea, though speaking as a writer I can tell you that these things very frequently just, well, happen. Characters take on a life of their own, certain traits and scenarios suggest themselves, and all of a sudden... there you are.

I can't imagine she had some "gay agenda" with him because there's nothing in the texts to even imply that he's gay in the first place, and had she not been asked the question she was asked, and in the manner she was asked, she may never have revealed it at all.

At 11:28 AM, October 26, 2007 , Blogger Freiheit said...

Wait, 3/7 of the glass of beer is froth? What an awful pour!

At 1:10 PM, October 26, 2007 , Blogger Vernunft said...

Hey, I got that Heineken draught keg thing, and it's impossible not to pour a majority-head glass with it. Two thumbs way down (or up Heineken's...spout).

Further, the world does not need gay sorcery any more than it needed Gay Science.

At 3:53 PM, October 26, 2007 , Blogger Auskunft, the Lion Hearted said...

This would make a wonderful non-dumbed-down SAT question:



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