Snape Shot First!


So, Dumbledore is now officially gay and that’s all very nice.

My first reaction was – well now, that’s one way to get everyone off the topic of the peekaboo lingerie incident that topped off the launch of the US book tour. The second reaction was profound disappointment at what appears to be a cheap grab at more headlines.

See, I have no objection to Dumbledore being gay, or Neville marrying Hannah Abbot. Perhaps it is because it never has mattered to me. It does seem, however, increasingly obvious that a lot of the newly released information is becoming a nod to fan fiction writers and doesn’t really add anything new or thoughtful to the discussion.

“Oh, my god,” Rowling concluded with a laugh, “the fan fiction.”

It seriously sounds like she’s been enjoying a lot of it on her newly found free time. But honestly! Stop feeding the fan writers! They have enough imagination on their own. This is not going to stop the Crookshanks and Giant Squid shippers, or Dumbledore and McGonagall fans. Alternative Universe writers will still go on, perhaps with a bit more angst than ever.

From the dopey epilogue of Deathly Hallows, to the fan pleasing bits that have come out because she’s never before been asked about these things, I will say it is a masterful move she’s made out there on the book tour: JK sure knows how to keep people hooked. Of course there’s a flood of information coming out now – she hasn’t allowed herself to talk about the series for years. It’s genius really – keep the hype spinning and the speculation and analysis flowing. The strong point in the books is providing such a rich world, with many jump off points for creativity and analysis, though. This does nothing to add to that.

Rowling shouldn’t need to stir hype and keep it going though – the books should be doing that on their own. If they’re not then that says something about the books. There’s the Hogwarts Encyclopedia to look forward to after all whenever it comes out, but it’s going to sell itself by author name alone. There are thousands of details that never made it into the books – but for good reason. They weren’t important then and we don’t really need to know them now. Or until there’s a nice tidy book of them we can use as “reference”.

Now people are just bored, and hungry for every little detail and all the stupid questions will come out in droves.

Tip to JK: You don’t have to answer them, it is okay.

So, Dumbledore is gay and it was never a big deal before, which is why no one asked. Sure, it was probably there all along, and so what if it was?

In some respects it does make sense, she probably didn’t want all the discussion of sexual orientation to distract from the book message, as such, throwing in such minutiae would probably not have made sense. Still, central topic of the books is love, in all forms – so why not add this to the mix? Wouldn’t this just add to the message rather than distract?

By the way, how is it okay to throw in a cheeky comment to “inappropriate charms with a goat” and treat something like homosexuality as “oo, things we don’t talk about”? What kind of message is that sending?

The only reason this is such a big deal is because it’s being made a big deal of. When these things become commonplace in literature, no one will be all that “oo, guess what”. But no, we’ve instead got a cheap grab at more headlines.

Does it have anything to do with how Dumbledore conducted his affairs through the books? Not at all. He still withheld information from Harry, he still made mistakes, and he still was no less than the finest wizard of his time. Fantastic – he’s a new role model for the gay community. You can still look up to people and not know their sexual orientation, just saying.

Does this make the books any less great? Not in the slightest. Sorcerer’s Stone is still a bit rough and young sounding, Chamber of Secrets was suitably creepy, Prisoner of Azkaban was a good setup, Goblet of Fire cranked it up a notch in style and substance, Order of the Phoenix is an almost unwieldy pile of teenage angst, Half-Blood Prince filled the time gap admirably veering from fluff to setting up Deathly Hallows, and Deathly Hallows did it’s job in wrapping things up. Great series, more would be nice, but that’s what makes it great – it’s definitely re-readable, too.

Plus, I found her additional commentary on the topic to be shallow and weak.

“In fact, recently I was in a script read-through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script, saying, ‘I knew a girl once, whose hair …’ [the crowd laughed]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter: ‘Dumbledore’s gay!’ “

What’s that all about? Maybe she could have just noted the line was dumb and noted it for that.

It does set an interesting stage of affairs for JK Rowling – how far will she go to snag the headlines? Will we start to see Lucasesque style revisions, ala “Han Shot First”? I certainly hope not. The fun in reading the series lies in analyzing and thinking it over, reading things in and taking things away from it. Clarification is good – did Harry die? What made Voldemort tick? Those are the things we really want to know.

So, hey, great news if you totally care about that sort of thing (and I really didn’t) – but still, a disappointing delivery mechanism from JK Rowling and probably a sign of how bored the media has become to latch on to something so small and make such a big deal of it.

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