J.K. Rowling: Please Stop Flogging a Dead Hippogriff
Why J.K. Rowling needs to leave “The Boy Who Lived” behind, before the Magic Disappears
*Article contains spoilers for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child*
If you couldn’t guess from the title, I’m a bit of a Harry Potter fan. I was around seven-years old when my parents bought me a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I remember it being the first “grown up book” that I ever read and at first, I hated it. As a result of the tiny attention span I possessed at that age, I gave up after reading the first couple of pages. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I picked it up one more time, and found myself completely immersed, unable to put the book down until I’d finished it. Like millions of children around the world, I fell in love with Harry Potter.
Not Your Average “Potterhead”
And I mean completely in love. I vividly recall having a tantrum in the middle of a shop (I wasn’t a brat, honestly!) when my parents refused to buy me a copy of the PC game adaption of Philosopher’s Stone. When Order of The Phoenix released, my parents decided to take my brother and I on a camping holiday, to the middle of bloody nowhere. I called my best friend at the time and listened down the phone, clinging onto his every word as he read me the first chapter from the book. Apparently I didn’t shut up about it after that, and the next day we very conveniently happened to pass a supermarket. I picked up my copy, and that kept me quiet for the rest of the holiday. At fifteen, I queued for the midnight release of Deathly Hallows, only to read it until 4am, wake up again at 7am and have the book finished by lunchtime. Yes, I shed a tear (okay, a few tears) when Dobby died. I loved everything to do with J.K. Rowling’s world. I still cherish memories of reading the books, and look forward to a time when my children are older and I can share the magic of Harry Potter with them.
So Why Is The Magic Fading?
The spin offs and short stories, Rowling’s insistence on tampering with pre-established character details has sucked the joy out the stories I love more effectively than a Dementor’s Kiss. Since the series ended, Rowling has repeatedly taken to Twitter to reveal new details about the world and it’s characters. Unfortunately, most of these failed to add anything meaningful to the existing canon and instead come across as a desperate attempt to shoehorn some diversity into the series. The following are some examples:
- The revelation during a Q&A session in 2007 that Albus Dumbledore was gay.
- A tweet stating that Hermione’s skin colour is ‘never specified as white’. This was in response to the casting of a black actress into the role for the stage show adapation of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.
- A tweet confirming the presence of Jewish characters in the books, when questioned by a fan.
- The revelation that Voldemort’s pet snake Nagini was once an East Asian woman afflicted with a curse that turned her into a snake.
Twitter of course, responded in the best possible way:
The fact that none of this information was stated in the books shows they are merely Rowling’s attempt to bring the series into the future. After all, attitudes to racial, sexual and cultural differences have come a long way since the first book was published. But come on Joanne, do you really expect us to believe you wrote Nagini as a shape-shifting Asian woman all those years ago?
Success can be a Blessing or a Cursed Child
If I ever write a series of novels which go on to sell more than 500 million copies worldwide, I’d find it hard to let go as well. I’m not in anyway suggesting the reason J.K. Rowling continues to publish literature on the Potter world is for financial gain. When your net worth is estimated to be somewhere in the realm of $1 billion, you probably stop doing things purely to earn money. Below I’ve compiled a list of the other publications (including films) on the Potter universe:
- Quidditch Through The Ages (2001)
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2001)
The Tales of Beedle The Bard (2007) — purporting to be books of the same name that are mentioned in the Harry Potter novels. These books were writing by J.K. Rowling to raise money for various charitable causes.
- Harry Potter and The Cursed Child (2016) — the screenplay for the stage show was also released in book form.
- Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts (2016) — an e-book collection of brand-new short stories from the Wizarding World.
- Harry Potter — A History of Magic: The Book of the Exhibition (2017) — a collaboration between J. K Rowling and the British Library.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) — the first and second of five planned films in the series, based upon the Hogwarts textbook of the same name.
After numerously saying there would be no eighth Harry Potter book, Rowling got one over on us all by releasing the eighth Harry Potter story as a screenplay. The two part stage show premiered in 2016. Because who doesn’t want to watch a middle-aged Harry Potter struggle to cope with a parental crisis? Oh, and Voldemort had a secret daughter who’s trying to change the past. Wait, what?
To clarify, I’ve not seen the stage show adaptation of Cursed Child. But I have read the screenplay. I felt cheated. It is the Potter story that nobody wanted and that nobody asked for. It lacks all the charm, mystery and sense of immersion that made the original books so captivating. That the major twist is Voldemort having a secret child with Bellatrix Lestange makes it seem more like a piece of erotic fan fiction, rather than a gripping story from the world’s most successful novelist.
And now we have the news that Rowling will be releasing four new e-books starting next month, each one based upon a different Hogwarts lesson. When will enough be enough? It’s clear Rowling hasn’t learned from her mistakes. All stories come to an end. Harry’s should have ended a long time ago.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” — Albus Dumbledore
Jo, take your own advice, and do the right thing. Leave Harry and the magical world alone, while there’s still some of the magic left.