J.K. Rowling Fans Deserve Better

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Harry Potter. I’ve read all the books, I’ve seen the movies, I’ve even taken the class here at Augustana. Harry Potter has been a big part of my life ever since I first read the series. It’s something that I always find myself going back to for comfort and entertainment.

As such a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has been a hero of mine. Her story of rejection, perseverance, and success is one that inspires me. So, when I say that lately I’ve been disappointed in J.K. Rowling, it’s not something that I say lightly. It’s something that I struggle with, because I want to support the creator of my favorite series, but some of her recent actions make that hard to do.

When I found out that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was going to be made into a movie, I was extremely excited. I saw the movie on opening night and loved it. Not only was I getting new stories from the world I loved so much, I was also getting a new cast of characters to love. The only snag was the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. He had been cast before ex-wife Amber Heard came forward with allegations of abuse. After the movie’s release, Johnny Depp’s image was tarnished for me and many other fans. Fans called for him to be recast, as Grindelwald becomes a very prominent character in the subsequent Fantastic Beasts movies. But, the decision was made to continue with Johnny Depp in the role, which disappointed me and others.

Recently, more information was released about Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald that was even more disappointing for me. Despite it never being mentioned in the books, J.K. Rowling has told fans that Albus Dumbledore is canonically gay.  For many fans, this was an important revelation. Albus Dumbledore, seen as the smartest man in the wizarding world, was a gay man, but that wasn’t what defined him. His sexuality was merely a character trait rather than a plot line. When I found out that Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald was going to focus on young Dumbledore and his relationship with Grindelwald, I was extremely excited. I wanted to see a movie that would explore his past in depth and mention his sexuality, which is something that many people still do not know. So, I was extremely disappointed to find out that Dumbledore’s sexuality would not be addressed in the film.

Something that many fans have noticed after the last Harry Potter book was published is that J.K. Rowling seems to repeatedly bring up a few examples of diverse characters when asked by fans. Although yes, these characters are mentioned in the books, these diverse parts of their identities are not. It is incredibly easy to go on to Twitter and claim that a certain character is Jewish, or gay, or black, but it is much more important to represent that in the stories. J.K. Rowling seems to have taken the easy way out—she can go back and add diversity to minor characters, but she does not practice that in her writing.  She had the opportunity to explore Dumbledore’s sexuality, which many fans were clamoring for, but instead she decided not to talk about it at all. For me and many other people who love the world of Harry Potter, this is a big let-down from J.K. Rowling.