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October 23rd, 2007


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09:54 am - Well, HP fandom is a particularly fun place to be right now. OR NOT.
This has been a wild week for Harry Potter fans, especially Christian ones.

Last week, J.K. Rowling spoke with MTV about the Christian imagery in the books, calling it "obvious," and Christian intellectuals and fans rejoiced at this confirmation of what we had long suspected and discussed.

Only a couple of days later, during a Q & A session with fans, Rowling said, "I always saw Dumbledore as gay."


Mostly, I've been impressed (as usual) with responses from Travis Prinz (at Sword of Gryffindor): Dumbledore is Gay: Welcome to the Culture War; the initial response and comment responses from John Granger over at HogPro.

There's also an eyewitness report on the Q & A from Amy Sturgis, a Christian and scholar, which has a slightly different feel than the "breaking news" reports. This seemingly wasn't a planned announcement on JKR's part, but a spur-of-the-moment revelation to a fan question.

Then there are the typical over-reactions from the far right, which has made homosexuality into a worse sin than pride (no matter that it was through pride Satan fell, and humanity as well); and over-adulations from those on the opposite side.

All this, despite the fact that what JKR said really doesn't change anything about the books at all.


If any of this troubles you, I'd recommend taking Neil Gaiman's advice: "Trust the tale, not the teller." The books are no different now than they were when you read Deathly Hallows in a night back in July.
Current Mood: cynicalcynical

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Comments:


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From:izhilzha
Date:October 23rd, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
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Well, there's at least one person on my flist being very UNsensible about the whole thing (which throws me, because we're usually in sympathy, both being pro-friendship and anti-slash), so I'm reacting in the other direction. *lolz*
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From:kalquessa
Date:October 23rd, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, my reaction when mr. Bill told me about this was pretty much "Um...okay." And then I finished cleaning the bathroom. *shrug* Like you said, the books are still the same.

(Of course, I was kind of annoyed about the whole Christian themes thing on MTV, because I figured those of us who were enjoying the Christian themes could already see them without her help and the people who didn't want to see Christian themes were probably happier before she set up the big "Christian Thematic Material Here!" sign. But that's just me.)

Mr. Bill's reaction amused me: "First she kills him, then she outs him. Poor guy."
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From:kerravonsen
Date:October 23rd, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
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those of us who were enjoying the Christian themes could already see them without her help and the people who didn't want to see Christian themes were probably happier before she set up the big "Christian Thematic Material Here!

Not just you. I hate how they do that to the Narnia stories too.
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From:kalquessa
Date:October 23rd, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
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Exactly. We are not blind! We can see the Biblical parallels! Please stop shouting about symbolism, we can't hear the dialog!
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From:izhilzha
Date:October 23rd, 2007 10:48 pm (UTC)
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Well, pardon me if I (as a Eng. lit. major who still loves that stuff) gets a kick out of hearing her confirm as *intentional* things I've been loving since I started reading the series. :-)
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From:kalquessa
Date:October 23rd, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
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Well of course, I don't hold it against anyone if that increased their enjoyment of the books. It annoyed me, but I know I'm weird. *grin* And either way, I still love the books, regardless of whatever Rowling takes it into her head to do, so yay!
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From:izhilzha
Date:October 24th, 2007 12:07 am (UTC)
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I might have liked it better if she'd not said ANYTHING extra-canonical, but since she has this whole world in her head, and as a writer I understand the desire to share it beyond the story, at least she's not being coy about some things and open about others. *shrug*
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From:kalquessa
Date:October 24th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I totally get the motivation to share this stuff, and I especially get why it made you and a lot of other people happy to hear it. Normally, it would have made me happy, too, because yeah, it's awesome when you can have that kind of thing confirmed by the author. Just for some reason, this struck me as her basically saying "neener neener" to a lot of people (anti-book Christians, anti-Christian book fans). And for some reason that bothered me. Even though, if I were her, I would waste no opportunity to get my neeners in. And I think I felt like it was kind of unnecessary to ruin the fun of a bunch of fans, even though any fan who has the books ruined for them by the author saying "so yeah, there were Christian themes in there," is kind of asking for it. So I'm being totally hypocritical, here, and I don't even know why! But there you have it.

(Seriously, do I even need another person to have this discussion? Apparently, I could carry it on quite with myself. I'm getting tired just thinking about it. It is so exhausting being me.)
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From:ladybrick
Date:October 23rd, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
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You know, my only real reaction was a desire to reread Deathly Hallows because I don't entirely remember how the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship played out in text. From what I do recall, this puts an interesting twist on it.

This isn't actually the first time I've seen a children's author do something like this. Tamora Peirce "outed" several of her characters through discussion with fans years before it ever came up in the "canon" text. And with one character in a completed subseries of one of her universes, there's a strong possibility that it may never come up in a book.
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From:jn_oscargrouch
Date:October 23rd, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
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Because Dumbledore has always been symbolized as God in my mind, I didn't even consider his sexuality an issue. And she may think he is, but I've been listening to the entire series and no where did I even think about it. Even when reviewing his relationship with Grindelwald.
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From:mistraltoes
Date:October 24th, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
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This is why I must confess I'd have preferred it to be any character but Dumbledore. If the book is thematically Christian and we have a wise and kindly but also powerful and dangerous patriarchal figure, he usually does represent God.
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From:jn_oscargrouch
Date:October 24th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
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The only character that made sense might be guy would have been Sirius, as there was no mention of female loves and he kinda could've been, you know?

But with dumbledore it serves no purpose what his sexuality is, because his character type doesn't require it. It's like saying Gandolf or Merlin were gay.
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From:feliciakw
Date:October 24th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
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My reaction is . . . disappointment, I guess. This little tidbit of extra-canonical information does nothing to change the reading of the stories, as there's nothing in the books to indicate such a thing. My disappointment stems, I think, from the depiction that a person (in this case a young man) cannot be fascinated by another person (specificially, another young man) without there being some sort of sexual attraction attached. I didn't stricty draw anything from the relationship as depicted in the book other than they had the same intellectual passions. Maybe it did niggle in the back of my mind that there was something more; I honestly can't recall. But I read it more as Dumbledore being starved for a like-minded friend.

This information also feeds into the misconception that if an older person is single and has no romantic history, they must be homosexual, which isn't the case.

On the flip side, there's more to a person than his or her sexuality. This information shouldn't change how Dumbledore is perceived as a character overall, should it? He's still wise and loving and self-sacrificing and flawed. This extra-canonical information doesn't change that.

It's true: the books read no differently now, with this big "reveal"--or rather, pseudo-reveal, since it's not canon--than they did before.

I might be more upset by this revelation if I thought the books were strictly allegorical in nature, which I don't think they are.
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From:izhilzha
Date:October 24th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
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Actually, I don't know that it does feed into the "fascination must be sexual" thing quite as much as you imply it does. JKR has given us, repeatedly and in many different shades throughout the books, friendships between people of the same (and of the opposite!) gender...sometimes based on something real, sometimes rather out of control (Peter in the Marauder's group, anyone?), sometimes hero-worship. It's one of the author's greatest strengths, this ability to glorify and realistically draw platonic and familial relationships.

It'll be sad if people let one extra-canonical comment make them forget this acchievement, but it's certainly not doing much to mess with my love of what she's pulled off. *shrug* YMMV, I suppose.
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From:feliciakw
Date:October 24th, 2007 01:21 am (UTC)
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Actually, I don't know that it does feed into the "fascination must be sexual" thing quite as much as you imply it does.

Perhaps not. She does do a good job of developing friendships and even friendships that are mistaken for romance (specifically, the several times that Harry and Hermione's relationship is misconstrued throughout the books). But in this case, it's Dumbledore, who has lived a long, full life, and who "oddly" has never had a romance (that we the readers know of. We only know what Harry knows). If I had to place Dumbledore's admiration of Grindlewald into one of the categories you mention (friendship based on A) something real; B) out of control; C) hero-worship), I would have put it in the hero-worship category, based on what we're given in the book.

I'm probably not expressing myself very well, so I'll stop now. As you say, YMMV.
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From:fpb
Date:October 24th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
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What ability? My viewpoint, speaking as a male, is that she gets nearly everything wrong. Her understanding of the male sex is primitive at best, and the relationships among the Marauders are caricatural (in real life, such a group of friends would not have tolerated anyone as stupid as Peter looks for a second, and would have been rather nasty to him into the bargain). As for Dumbledore, I said everything I want to say.
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From:izhilzha
Date:October 24th, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
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Well, if you're so annoyed with her portrayals (and I have 3 brothers and a father and have observed male friendships, and some of them *are* like the ones the Marauders display, even including Peter--just because your own experience doesn't envelop that particular dynamic doesn't mean it doesn't exist), why have you been a fan of the books?

I'm not really all that curious, but I fail to understand people who write fan fiction in a world that apparently they think is "done wrong."
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From:rose_in_shadow
Date:October 25th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
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I have to admit, my initial knee-jerk reaction was disappointment, but then I got confused. I know it sounds weird, but I think JKR has it wrong. I don't think Dumbledore had romantic relationships of any kind. I'm not saying that he might not have felt something for someone at some point, but he's always struck me as one of those eternally "alone" characters that don't fit with anyone in a romantic pairing of either gender. Like Gandalf. It's just weird: to me anyway.

I think Travis of Sword of Gryffindor had it right; JKR had some characters get away from her big time.
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From:scionofgrace
Date:October 25th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
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I should have known that context was everything. Like my hermeneutics professor used to say, the first key to interpreting anything is "context, context, CONTEXT." And after reading the eyewitness report of Rowling's interview, I am now convinced that she was not messing with us, and that Dumbledore's orientation, whether I like it or not, does illustrate another point in her long and eloquent theme of love.

Thanks for posting this!

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