Can you separate JK Rowling from Harry Potter?

So I’m expecting this to be a spicy debate. What I mean by this is that there are going to be a lot of different views and I expect some people will not like what others think and vice-versa. This is an article about whether you can separate JK Rowling from her creation Harry Potter and enjoy Harry’s stories or can you not?

Harry Potter Movies in Order. Typically kids from age 7 to 9 start… | by  Vinod Sharma | Medium

If you don’t know why there is a problem with the famous author of the even more famous Harry Potter franchise then I will explain briefly. On June 6th 2020 JK Rowling retweeted an article to her Twitter account which millions of followers saw with her own thoughts added in her tweet. The article she retweeted was a piece about creating a more equal post Covid-19 world for people who menstruate. What followed was other tweets and posts to her website about trans people being who they felt they were. Uproar followed.

For a better and more complete breakdown of the events please see here or here.

Recently on Twitter I posted one of my ‘So You’ve Played’ articles for the Legend of Zelda game (see here) saying that the adventure in the LoZ game was comparable to the Harry Potter books making them a good choice if you enjoyed the LoZ and wanted more of the same but in book form. A follower tweeted a reply having a go at me because I was posting about Harry Potter and “supporting TERF JK Rowling” (TERF = trans-exclusionary radical feminist). The tweet has since been deleted but it got me thinking.

Can you enjoy Harry Potter without supporting the author?

I posted a tweet out with a poll to see what people thought. The poll received 188 votes and ended as follows:

I was surprised by the result, I really expected it to be quite even or maybe in the favour of Harry is dead to me since the author’s views are seriously damaging. As you can see around 70% of people who responded said that they can separate JK Rowling from Harry Potter and enjoy the books/movies/merchandise still. Leaving around 30% of people who said that no they couldn’t enjoy it anymore and that essentially Harry Potter was no longer a part of their lives.

I’m going to break this down into two parts, a for and against followed by my own personal opinion.

Those who can separate and enjoy Harry Potter:

There are people who can separate the creator from the creation and they can do this probably for a number of reasons. It could be that they’re not a part of the LGBTQ+ society and so aren’t affected as much, it might be that they have only seen the movies and not read the books, it might be that Harry Potter was the first fantasy book they read, or it could be that they can just separate it similar to Michael Jackson and his music when stories came out about him.

Some of the people who can separate it wrote comments on the poll.

As you can see here it was Shaad’s first fantasy series that he truly loved so it holds a special place in his heart that he is not ready to give up, least of all for an author who has hurt thousands of people with her views.

Night says here that Harry Potter will always be the most important story to her. She says, and this is echoed by others in the replies, that if she had to fully agree with every author’s personal views she wouldn’t have much left to read.

Hanna explains that she does struggle with the connection but also ‘fuck her’ – Hanna loves the Harry Potter fandom and what it means to her. I’d personally say that books are art and art is subjective so essentially Hanna makes a good point of what HP means to her personally and she shouldn’t have to give that up because someone has views opposite to Hanna’s own.

Those who can’t separate and enjoy Harry Potter:

The other side of the coin – those who cannot separate JK Rowling and her character Harry Potter. They either see them as the same thing, that JK Rowling’s other personal views were expressed in her books with the use of a predominantly white character selection and that characters like Cho Chang and Nagini were either there to tick a box or ended up being evil and not helping to save the day, or that they just don’t want to be associated with Harry Potter for the perception it puts out to others.

Those who can’t separate might also feel that if they are reading Harry Potter they are letting their friends down from the LGBTQ+ community since it looks like they’re choosing her views over their friendship. Those that voted on the poll had this to say on the matter:

Words About Books Podcast said that while they don’t completely rule out Harry Potter as non-existent, their relationship with that fandom has been negatively impacted because of the views of the author.

Jamie says that he isn’t much of a re-reader and wasn’t sure he was going to read them again but to him books are such a pure and direct gateway into a person’s mind and in the case of JK Rowling, it’s not somewhere he wants to visit knowing what it contains.

I can really understand what Jamie is saying here because when you write a book you are constantly locked in your own mind digging at your thoughts to create a story, conflicts, characters etc. By reading the books Jamie feels a connection to JK Rowling, a bit like Harry and Voldemort ironically, and he doesn’t want to do it again.

Grimdark Dad says that he thinks the issue is not with people reading the books in the privacy of their own homes but when they splash it over social media sites. It’s a clear signal to any transgender folk that that person values nostalgia about a fictional wizard over real, trans lives.

From the comments posted I can understand what those who can’t separate are saying. It’s either cut too deep, they don’t want to finance JK Rowling any further by investing in anything Harry Potter related or that they value their friends/communities feelings more than enjoying/owning/reading the books/memorabilia/movies.

My opinion:

For me, as a straight person, I don’t find a problem separating Joanne from Harry or any artist from the medium. I read the books as they were released and really enjoyed them. I still love them and I am planning on re-reading them at some point. I expect my future children will also want to read them. With that being said, I would also educate my children to know that trans people are people and that should they hear opinions like JK’s that they should ignore them and that trans people are people. They should be treated with as much respect and compassion as any other human.

I wouldn’t now want to give more money to JK Rowling because she has some very controversial views that have had an impact on thousands of people. I don’t want to fund views like that. The worst part of her views coming out is that the same people who took solace in a world of her creation have now had her snuff out their sanctuary light like a dementor at midnight leaving those affected wondering what went wrong?

I personally think that her views are archaic, naive and hurtful but everyone has an opinion and you shouldn’t let her opinion, or anyone else’s become your reality. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and see someone reading a Harry Potter book you might think they think more of a fictional wizard than they do of your own feelings. It probably isn’t the case and they can, like me, separate the artist from the art. We ask so many times to do this with people. How many Harvey Weinstein movies have you watched since he was found out? Danced to a Michael Jackson song with the stuff about Neverland raising eyebrows? It’s all subjective to a personal take.

In summary:

This was a tricky article to write because it’s a big rabbit hole to go down and I’ve only really scratched the surface of a problem. A problem that was highlighted ironically to me by a booktuber accusing me of supporting TERF opinions when all I was trying to do was recommend books that had adventure in them!

From the results of the poll, most people will be able to separate Harry from his creator and continue to enjoy his antics and the fandom. What is certain is that everyone I have spoke to does not agree with Joanne’s views and has stipulated that they wouldn’t buy any more merchandise, the books again and in some cases won’t throw them away but won’t ever read them again.

For those out there affected, please know that, at least from the poll, the majority of people will separate their knowledge of JK Rowling from their love for Harry Potter. You have the power to do the same. Do not let archaic, dinosaur views take away from you a piece of happiness you held onto for years because her views didn’t matter when you read the books the first time and they don’t matter the tenth time you choose to read the books. ❤

If you like science fiction and fantasy books then consider joining The Oasis Discord here – it’s free and has a great community, buddy reads, community reads and much more!

I hope this has been a good article, please keep responses clean and constructive, they are moderated. See you again soon!

5 thoughts on “Can you separate JK Rowling from Harry Potter?

  1. Brilliant article! I have struggled with this a lot as a school librarian. So many students ask to borrow the HP series and yet we also have trans students who have said they will never read it and turn their noses up to the books on the shelf because of the author’s views. I want to support all students, but also not police/censor which books we stock.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s a hard predicament because there is magic in reading them but at the same time the author has hurt many people.

      I would try to empower the students to understand that Harry Potter would never discriminate against anyone, as shown by his treatment of people like Neville Longbottom, and as such they should enjoy his adventures and refuse to acknowledge JKR.

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it and keep doing your great job of helping people read! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I relate a lot to Shaad’s view. As a kid, I didn’t have very many friends. Books were like a respite for me. I loved the Harry Potter series; though Percy Jackson & the Olympians will always be #1 in my heart.

    That however, does not mean that Rowling or the series are exempt from criticism! I can appreciate that Rowling created a world that meant so much to me whilst also critiquing the series itself as well as the author’s own personal views.

    I recognize that my stance is influenced by my experiences as a university student, as I often have to read and critique the work of scholars that I disagree with or scholars that could be deemed problematic.

    There are so! many! scholars! that are on my reading lists who have said very unpalatable things. If I refused to read or cite any of them because of their personal beliefs, I’d fail all of my classes. At least they’re not making very much, if any money from me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a fantastic article! One that I agree with completely. I am also able to separate Harry Potter from JK Rowling, and have been wondering if I was the only one out there who could. I grew up reading the books as they came out as well, and honestly never once really thought much about the author behind the book. I usually don’t with any book I read. I appreciate their ability to tell a great story and leave it at that. I don’t go into their personal lives and views, just as I don’t with music. Trust me, I’d be reading a lot less, listening to less music, and barely watching TV if I let writers/artists/actors’ personal views affect what I read and watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Genie in a Novel. I’m really glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

      There is truly so much beautiful magic in the HP books that I think you kind of need to learn to separate it so that in a way you are even protecting Harry himself from being associated with something he would never want to be associated with 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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