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J.K. Rowling has a complicated legacy and here’s why

J.K. Rowling legacy includes Harry Potter

Even people who don’t read for recreation know the name J.K. Rowling. Rowling created the universally beloved Harry Potter book series. Many of those who enjoy these young adult novels have grown up reading them and watching the movie universe that has sprung up around them.

A love-hate relationship

Actors like Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Daniel Radcliffe owe Rowling their mega-stardom. Now, there are Harry Potter-based theme parks. These coming-of-age books and movies seem to tap into some universal themes, and the presence of fantastic monsters of all sorts doesn’t hurt anything either.

Unfortunately, some fans have come to hate Rowling as much as they ever detested any of her evil wizards. That’s because of what many people perceive to be hateful things Rowling has said about the trans community and trans women in particular.

Rowling’s beliefs

A National Institute of Mental Health estimate reveals that there are almost 47 million Americans that experienced a mental illness over the past year. Doctors and mental health professionals once considered being transgender a mental illness, but almost all of them no longer do. The same metamorphosis has occurred in the medical community regarding homosexuality.

It’s tough being trans. Violence against trans men and women, and also gender-nonconforming individuals, is many times higher than it is against cisgender people. Cisgender means those who identify as the same gender medical professionals assigned them at birth.

Rowling has stated in interviews that “my life has been shaped by being female.” The implication is that trans women cannot have the same experience as those who are assigned female at birth. She has even linked her Twitter followers to a shop that sells flagrantly anti-trans items, including a badge that says “F— your pronouns.”

How do J.K. Rowling’s fans feel about this?

Many people don’t only enjoy Rowling’s writing. They also find her rags-to-riches story to be inspiring.

Rowling was essentially destitute at one point in her life, and now she’s a billionaire. She has been able to cash in not just on her books but also the movie franchise, theme parks, toys, video games, and countless other Harry Potter-themed items and concepts.

That’s as it should be since she created the entire series. However, millions of people worldwide have found her statements appalling, not just trans community members.

All the Harry Potter movie actors, including Grint, Radcliffe, and Watson, have spoken out against her. These are the three central characters who go through the books’ biggest story arcs.

She has doubled down on her viewpoints in multiple interviews. That makes it clear that she has little patience for the entire debate.

Self-inflicted wounds

It’s difficult when someone you admire does something you detest. Think about the backlash from many in the African-American community when rumors about Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson started to swirl. Consider how many people loved Louis CK before finding out about his sexually inappropriate actions over the years.

Rowling seems to be the latest example of that. What’s particularly ironic about her situation is that acceptance is a huge part of her books’ messages. The “evil” wizards are those who don’t believe the magically endowed and the regular humans, or “mud-bloods” can coexist.

This story’s craziest aspect is that Rowling is doing this to herself, and she can’t seem to stop opening her mouth and digging herself in deeper. It’s not like the accusations against Cosby, the late Michael Jackson, or Louis CK, all of whom took action rather than merely stating controversial viewpoints.

How does this end for J.K Rowling?

Everyone has the right to their own opinion, Rowling included. The things that she keeps saying seem to be needlessly hateful, though. And they keep getting more vindictive the more she says about this issue.

All she had to do was to say, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone, I hear you, and I’ll try to learn from this” when the whole controversy started. Instead, she got defensive, and that’s what will shape her legacy from this point forward.

There is a concept now called Cancel Culture, but in most cases, people should call it Consequences Culture. It’s what happens when someone does something controversial or wrong, and the public calls them out on it. Rowling is the latest example of this happening.

No one is going to “cancel” the Harry Potter series. Kids and adults will continue to love it going forward. Rowling will go down as a controversial figure at best, though, and there’s no denying that what she’s said has wounded many of her once-loyal fans.

5 thoughts on “J.K. Rowling has a complicated legacy and here’s why”

  1. Interesting. Right or wrong, she has a right to her opinions. As a someone who is very much a role, she should’ve kept those opinions to herself. I assume it didn’t occur to her that confused, lonely children looked to the Harry Potter author as a kind of safe person. Sad this happened to J.K. and her followers.

    1. Very cogent description of the issue Christy. My kids grew up on Rowling’s work, so those will always have a special place in our hearts. That being said, Rowling seems to either not realize or to not care about the effects her celebrity can have on the public. If she feels the need to share such controversial opinions, she certainly doesn’t need to bring such hostility into them.
      Everyone has heard her opinions, so she should just let it go and stop fanning the flames of hatred.

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