Monday, October 22, 2007

“Rowling” In The Aisles

Well, apparently J.K. Rowling was out of the headlines for just a tad too long and needed to get back in them with a good dose of controversy. So she found some. In a manner of speaking, that is. She didn’t court genuine controversy or put her neck genuinely on the line; on the contrary, she knew exactly what she was doing announcing the alleged homosexuality of the Harry Potter character Dumbledore the way she did, where she did, and how she did. Let’s face it. The woman didn’t go on campus at a conservative private school and do this; she went to the liberal capital of the liberal East Coast and did it there. Where she’d be sure to get applause and even be praised for it (at least one blog called this “a giant step forward for human rights” —and no, I am not making this up)…not be subjected to a slice or two of booing, hissing, and criticism she might well pick up further inland. (She probably will pick that up, too. There’ll no doubt be backlash, flurries of e-mails from family organizations, statements in the press, and she’ll get more fuel, more attention, more fire. Woman’s dumb like a fox.) But the sad part of all this hoopla is, it’s all so needless. This “revelation” of hers, as nothing else does, points up an agenda that has now officially gone so far overboard that it’s about to become a caricature of itself. Remember the days when every other soap opera female, for awhile there, was a reformed prostitute? (Maybe they still are. It’s been twenty years since I’ve seen a soap opera.) Ex-prostitutes married doctors and became respectable members of their communities—while all the time people knew that they’d come out of “the life” and admired and accepted them for it. I think in the legendary Pine Valley alone, on one block, there were three ex-hookers settled down to Happy Ever After without so much as a ripple of any trouble except if someone from their past happened to track them down. Now, I don’t know about you, but I lived the majority of my life in a major metropolitan area without ever having met a prostitute, much less a reformed one who had married a doctor and was living in an upscale suburb. Yet TV expected us to believe this was an everyday occurrence, that all these girls had “hearts of gold” and that, if just given a chance… Much the same thing has now occurred, on a much wider scale, with another fringe group—and these entertainment gurus are hoping we’re just as gullible. Unfortunately, so far, many of us have been. Homosexuals make up something between 7% and 15% of the total population, the former figure being one I was quoted when I was in school. Whether you take a lower or slightly higher figure into account, however—even by the most generous anthropological and sociological estimates—this is a tiny minority of people on the face of the earth (as most anomalies are). And that’s people with the proclivity alone; that’s not even the (smaller) numbers of people living the so-called “gay lifestyle.” Many people with SSA are chaste, are wise, and are observing a countercultural morality that costs them on one level every day, but saves them far more in the long run. You’ll never know that by our “culture,” however. You’ll never know the seedy side of the homosexual life through TV, books, or movies. On the contrary: TV, movies, and books are replete with homosexual characters—or couples—who are invariably the nicest, best looking, funniest, and most intelligent characters on the scene. Even in the rare instance that a homosexual is portrayed as something other than the #1 neighbor on the block, that’s usually written off to a bigger issue/storyline, a homosexual “rights” struggle, or the like…all within the framework of you’d-better-be-okay-with-this-or-you’re-a-bigot. The fact that the “gay” lifestyle has a dark, dangerous side—and no, not from “right-wingers” and “persecution,” but contained within the actual lifestyle itself—is a well-kept secret. And so you’ll never be aware of the false story you’re being told, time and time and time again. When it comes to prostitution, at least enough of the dark side of it’s been presented to all of us over the years that when you see things like the soap-opera scenario happening, you can step back far enough from it to realize the writers are stretching credibility beyond the screaming point, and you can laugh at them and dismiss it. But how will that distance happen when even the world’s most popular author seems to think it’s a good idea to bring the “alternative” agenda into Harry Potter books? And this is about agenda, one J.K. is bringing into the books. In effect, pasting it on. I suspect this because the great majority of devoted Harry Potter fans I know completely missed the “hints” that were supposedly put into the stories about this Dumbledore proclivity, about his “love” relationship with another character. It was supposedly there all the time, and they all missed it. Now on its face, this assertion is at best preposterous and at worst insulting. These are dedicated fans. People who counted the days until each book came out. People who read and reread the entire series prior to each book’s coming out. People who know details about the books. People who know trivia about the books. People who can see between lines, who know layers of meaning, who are perceptive and sharp in their reading. And yet J.K. is telling us that those fans failed to pick up on any of this, even supposedly with “hints” provided? Whom does she think she’s kidding? I’m not buying that tale, spun that way, any more than I buy the probability that three women down my block are ex-prostitutes. I seriously doubt those “hints” were there in the first place. I’m skeptical, in fact, that that character was even ever meant to be that way. What’s more likely, from this side of the fence, is that J.K. has chosen to bring Dumbledore “out of the closet” now not because he was there all the time, but because declaring a character “gay” nowadays is a sure way to get oneself even more attention, even more press, and at the same time paint even what are supposed to be innocent fiction stories with an extra (and oh-so-hip) layer of socially “forward” content. But why do it in a series that’s supposedly aimed at children? Is that even remotely appropriate? More importantly, even if J.K. had in mind that the guy was queer all that time, was it important to the storyline that he be so? If so, how did all those people miss it? If not, why is it even worth mentioning? Frankly, this “announcement” has all the earmarks of smoke and mirrors. A scam. A ploy. And a carefully orchestrated one at that, guaranteed to inflame one segment of the audience and delight the other. But why an author would want to polarize her audience at this point is a very good question, one that apparently no one thought worth asking…unless, of course, it all falls under the heading of “any publicity is good publicity.” That appears to be, in the end, what this is all about. Not about story. Not about character. Above all, not about integrity. It’s about grabbing headlines, which, sadly, it’s succeeded in doing. But one has to wonder what possible payoff could make it worth her while for J.K. to take a pretty innocent kids’ series of books and—just like Harry waving a wand—transform a part of them into yet another platform for deviants. One can only conclude from this that what P.T. Barnum said is true, after all. Too bad—in so many ways—for all of us. Thoughts? Janny


Deb said...

This recent cupboard storm reminds me of what I've been kvetching about for a long time: that heterosexuals need to take a stand. Homosexuals, do not tell me what your orientation is. Heterosexuals, don't you tell me either.

You know why? Because I DON'T CARE!

We are much bigger creatures under God than this. I refuse to care which way you think behind closed doors, and I shall not change my mind. Rowling has lost my respect for thinking I give a rat's wazoo what Dumbledore does or does not do in his time off. He could be asexual, and I still would not care.

People with an agenda, now jump all over me. I won't mind that, either.

Put sexuality back where it belongs, globally: in the private spaces of consenting adults. Don't burden our little ones with your cockamamie agendas.

Okay, I'm done.


Donna Alice said...

I seemed to have missed all the furor until today. I think it's all just another bid for publicity now that the HP series has come to an end. If no one knew the character was that way while they read the books, then why point it out that--"oh, yeah, that's what I meant all along."

Really dumb. I know someone in the gay lifestyle and she's anything but happy or gay. It's been a lifelong slide downward and keeps getting worse. There is nothing glamorous or free about it.

To have someone preaching to kids that it's just how you are is sickening. And to have someone making as much money as Rowling for doing so stinks even worse.