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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

WHY am I surprised?

From the way the media’s been screaming about it, you would think Jo Rowling had called a press conference to announce that Dumbledore is gay.

Ms. Rowling has been on an international tour to meet with fans. This is nothing unusual. At these appearances, she takes questions from fans. This is also not unusual. I always enjoy reading the transcripts of these question-and-answer sessions, because they add to my understanding of the books. For years, there were things she held back, but she’s now answering every question fans put to her.

It’s truly pathetic, but there’s much more information in the fan sessions than in any “mainstream media” story about Ms. Rowling. If I read a profile of the author in Canada’s Newspaper of Record, I’m certain to find the Shocking! News! that Harry appeared in her head while she was on the train, and that she used to write in coffee shops, and that she never, ever told anyone how the books would end. (See, this crap just writes itself.)

On the other hand, it was through fan interviews that I learned that Hermione goes on to work for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and that Harry becomes an Auror. That the broken two-way mirror would turn up in book 7, and that the “look of triumph” would be “enormously significant”. That certain characters got their names for specific reasons, and that they have blue eyes. Oh, and that Dumbledore is gay. Someone asked Ms. Rowling a question about his love life, and she answered it.

I’ve been reading that this revelation has cheapened everything she has written. Apparently, the Harry Potter books are "no longer a harmless little kids’ series" (shouldn't that be "little-kids' series"?). I cannot help but think that anyone who ever thought they were harmless or for little kids could not have read the books. Characters are tortured and murdered. Book 1 begins with a double murder, attempted infanticide and child abuse. These are not books for little kids, but not because there are hints in the last book that one character is gay.

Naturally, the latest revelation is all over the news. It’s odd, because the look of triumph was much more important (within this unimportant fictional series), but who ever claimed that journalism was about important things?


Cindy said...

Oh gosh, who cares if Dumbledore is gay? In Rowling's world, he was brilliant yet human, benevolent yet had made terrible mistakes. Where does his sexuality fit into that? It's not like he hit on Harry. He thought of him as a son, and treated him like a son.

Makes me wonder about his friendship with Grindelwald, if it was a teenage love affair/infatuation gone terribly wrong. Maybe that is why Dumbledore never had a life partner.

Really, why does everyone seem to think all gay men think about their gayness all the time?

Megan said...

It is relevant to the story, but only to book 7. It's certainly hinted at in that book, and I'm guessing that that's why the question came up now instead of three books ago.

JKR gave an interview about this while she was in Canada. The reporter apparently asked why she hadn't mentioned this before, and her answer was (to paraphrase) that she wasn't going to give away "Deathly Hallows" plot details in "Philosopher's Stone". That makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Add another book to the bonfire! This little tidbit has been hanging out on the front page of CNN online (fine fount of journalism that it is) for a few days now, and I did notice that very few other books have shared that hallowed space. In fact, I usually have to go trolling through the arts section to find any mention of a book, and yet now that Dumbledore is out of the Firebolt broom closet, here one is on the first page! Perhaps if authors could take it in turn to announce gay characters on the pages of other books (Miss Marple? Harriet the Spy?) we could keep books in the news indefinitely! It's worth a try...

Stephen Dawe said...

Hmmmm... it'd be funny to out Tom Clancey's favorite protagonist as gay.

So Dumbledore's gay, it's not apparent in the text (which is why fans had to ask), and it doesn't make Harry Potter novels an advertisement to promote homosexuality among our children. Readers seem capable of missing the blatant Christian overtones in Narnia, I think most will miss the fact that Dumbledore was attracted to men.

This isn't news, even for conservative evangelicals like me....

This is just another example of the tabloidified media. It's right up there in newsworthiness as Paris Hilton's DUI and Britney's meltdown. Just not news stuff penned by lazy journalists.

Karan said...

Why couldn't she just say "Dumbledore is pretend."?

Karen said...

God forbid a book that children will read actually portrays a gay character as being complex, well-rounded, and thoughtful. No wonder the media are up in arms - how dare Ms. Rowling turn their preconceived stereotypes on their ear!