Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kinky Wizards

This whole thing about Dumbledore from the "Potter" books being gay is truly outstanding. Very enjoyable fallout, J.K...we all owe you one for this essentially pointless but nonetheless highly amusing gesture.

Quick, quick backstory in case you don't follow fictional character outings...During a Q&A session, when asked about whether or not Dumbledore ever found love, "Potter" author J.K. Rowling revealed that the character was, in fact, homosexual.

"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.

She then explained that Dumbledore was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, whom he defeated long ago in a battle between good and bad wizards. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling said of Dumbledore's feelings, adding that Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down."


Interesting that this doesn't sound spontaneous - Rowling obviously had given thought to Dumbledore's personal history before - yet didn't find its way into any of the books. Why not bring it up within the text? Why wait until months after the publication of the final book to "reveal" a significant aspect of a character's personality and makeup? (Probably because it doesn't matter, but it's still interesting).

What does it mean when authors to just throw out appendages to their work after the fact? Should this information then inform future interpretations of their work? I'm not convinced that Dumbledore must be gay because Rowling says so. If I can read the books and come to a different conclusion (say, that he's secretly carrying on an affair with Professor McGonagall), must I be incorrect because my interpretation contradicts the author's thoughts on the subject?

Actually, you may not realize this, but Rowling is part of a grand tradition of artists introducing shocking relevations about their characters long after the original work was produced...

THE NEW YORK TIMES, MARCH 22, 1943

"WELLES: KANE'S A HOPHEAD!"

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - In a radio interview this morning on the McHutchin's Pork and Beans Supper Good Time Happy Variety Hour, filmmaker Orson Welles announced that his famed "Charles Foster Kane" character only wanted his childhood sled back because "that's where he hid his stash."

"I'm amused by the wild interpretations of 'Rosebud' in my film," Welles told rapt host Basil Wentworth "Johnny" Hazel. "He wanted the sled back because it was crammed full of barbituates and Benzedrine.


VARIETY, NOVEMBER 6, 1953

"HEN LOVER'S BLOWN COVER! FLIX CHICKIE MISSES DIXIE!


Animator Robert McKimson revealed yesterday at the first-annual Hollywood Awards that beloved Warner Bros. cartoon star Foghorn Leghorn was an active participant in the Ku Klux Klan before his 1946 debut, "Walky Talky Hawky."



"The fans will understand," explain McKimson. "He was a different bird back then. There's a lot of social pressure on a Tennessee rooster to fit in, and Foghorn's speech impediment already put him at a disadvantage."

When approached for comment, Leghorn declined to speak with the press, but did release this statement through a representative:

"I say, now, I say...This, this here allegation is about as nutty as a fruitcake. I may have, I say, may have attended a few meetings, but that hardly makes me a Grand Wizard, son. You're a nice boy, but about as sharp as a bowling ball."

McKimson suggested that Leghorn kept his secret by using the pseudonym "Robert Byrd" at all Klan events and gatherings."


So, those are the interesting ramifications of such an announcement, I think (if there are, in fact, any interesting ramifications at all.) Of course, to screeching homophobes, such a benign statement comes across as a declaration of war. Here's columnist Don Surber:

The author of the Harry Potter books told an audience at Carnegie Hall that Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay.

He’s also a fictional character.


So what? Are fictional characters not allowed to be gay? Someone tell Ann Rice!

Why would people applaud? Why would it be necessary to have this as a back story? Maybe the final paragraph in the AP story explains it: “Not everyone likes her work, Rowling said, likely referring to Christian groups that have alleged the books promote witchcraft. Her news about Dumbledore, she said, will give them one more reason.”

Yes, knock the Christians. That will sell books.


I wouldn't really worry too much about J.K. Rowling's ability to sell books. She's got to be among the wealthiest authors on Earth, right? (I'm too lazy to look this up, but if she was not in the Top 2 or 3 novelists on the planet right now, I'd be extremely surprised.)

But really, the whole comment here is just puzzling. It's nonsensical to ask "why" a novel would require backstory. It's a work of fiction! Why does any detail exist in any work of fiction! You might as well as why Scout lived next door to Boo Radley, or why Pip is so stupid that he doesn't realize it's Abel Magwitch, the convict he saved all those years back, who's acting as his benefactor, not crazy old Miss Havisham. Cause that's the goddamn story, you fucking meathead. You don't like it, write your own goddamn book, where no one is gay and Jesus is magic. Otherwise, just shut up.

1 comment:

krista said...

JK Rowling is actually the richest woman in Britain, pretty sure she's richer than the Queen.