This isn’t a new conversation, but Return to Hogwarts and responses from fans past and present on social media invite us to revisit the question: Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?
The answer, of course, is complicated and nuanced. Except for the moments when it’s pretty straightforward. The idea that we can separate the art from the artist hinges on a form of privilege and a misunderstanding of how creators can put themselves and their beliefs into their work. French philosopher Roland Barthes’ essay “Death of the Author” is used as a way to explain that it’s “just art” and can be consumed without any input from the creator, making the creator someone whose shouting doesn’t impact the narrative or your understanding of it. Unfortunately, when it comes to bigotry, that’s not necessarily an approach that works.On Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling’s Transmisogyny, and What We Owe Each Other
In grad school, there were a lot of books I read for my degree that were by people I would disagree with deeply or who were open and avowed bigots. The Marquis de Sade, who featured heavily in my class on transgressive literature, was a sex pest and pervert (negative). Philosopher Heidegger, who we had to learn about in literary theory because he… is apparently influential to it and influenced so many others – he did the whole “notion of ‘being'” stuff, was a whole ass Nazi. Lovecraft was a racist weenie weirdo. Some of the comic writers I did my thesis work on… were really shitty.
Rowling is a TERF. She’s claimed that title. She acts like one. She breaks bread with many.
Awful people often make things that are so important to us as readers and fans. Harry Potter is one of the most important thing in many people’s lives. It got them through hell.
How do you break free from that? How do you leave that fandom behind you or try to make it better? What do we even owe each other as fans?
I try to answer those questions in the first Fan Service installment of 2022… It was TOUGH