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arhyalon

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01:47 pm: SHAME ON YOU, J.K. ROWLING!
 Some years ago, I had a job reviewing Shojo (girls) Anime. There’s hardly a Shojo Anime out there that does not include some boy who is in love with another boy. Sometimes, they have good reasons (possessed by the ghost of a dead sister, actually an asexual moon angel) other times, they’re just plain pervy all around (such as the wicked but awfully-cute Akio of Revolutionary Girl Utena.) And, yes, I enjoyed these shows just as much as the next girl. Fushigi Yugi, Card Captor Sakura, and Revolutionary Girl Utena are still among my favorites.
 
The point of the above paragraph is to establish A) that I don’t object to gay characters per se, and B) that I am aware that girls/women often think gay characters are kind of cute or romantic.
 
All that having been said: SHAME ON YOU, J.K. ROWLING!
 
If Mrs. Rowling had come out and announced that Flitwick were gay, or Percy Weasley, or Mad-Eye Moody, or Professor McGonigal (I’m list characters who come to mind whose preference in such things is not established in the story,) I don’t think I would have thought anything of it. But Dumbledore is a different issue entirely. Dumbledore’s being gay casts an uncomfortable shadow over his relationship with Harry – which changes, or threatens to change, my perception of the story as written.
 
This is not good storytelling. Mrs. Rowling has done such a good job up to this point of keeping her story square within the realm of children’s stories. I’m sad to see her venture out of the established children’s story conventions in this fashion.
 
One thing that really annoyed me was Mrs. Rowling saying that there were clues about this in the latest volume…and then it turns out that nearly everything on the subject was written by Rita Skeeter. WHAT? Aren’t we supposed to DISBELIEVE Ms. Skeeter.
 
That is just weird.
 
Saddest of all is that no one seems to be denouncing this. Every review I’ve seen is jumping on the bandwagon to show how tolerant they are, no one seems willing to say: “Hey, that was really inappropriate, you know!”

Comments

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From:cjmr
Date:October 29th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
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She doesn't seem to realize that it makes a better story if Dumbledore was attracted to Grindelwald because his charisma or just by the attraction of power, rather than the easy way out--he wanted to get into his pants.

She also doesn't seem to realize that having a youthful Same Sex Attraction is not necessarily equivalent to being a lifelong homosexual.
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From:jordan179
Date:October 29th, 2007 06:57 pm (UTC)
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She doesn't seem to realize that it makes a better story if Dumbledore was attracted to Grindelwald because his charisma or just by the attraction of power, rather than the easy way out--he wanted to get into his pants.

The point is that it was both.

And actually, Dumbledore impressed me as having a very weak sex drive. It's possible to be gay but not very strongly driven, just as it is to be hetrosexual and not very strongly driven. I personally know someone who is the latter.
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From:arhyalon
Date:October 29th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
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>She also doesn't seem to realize that having a youthful Same Sex Attraction is not necessarily equivalent to being a lifelong homosexual.

I saw a blog where someone else made a similar point. I entirely agree. One sees that kind of crush on an older classman in Anime, too. I recall a period as a girl when I had a crush on a girl who was a couple of years older than me. She was beautiful, she drew nifty fantasy scenes, she dressed in an intriguing fashion. I thought she was sooo cool!

But I didn't want to kiss her. I wanted to BE her.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:October 29th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)

Hate to say it...

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but at the time I thought those passages in the last book between the two master wizards sounded like something out of a gay Harlequin romance book. Or maybe Bronte.
But I wasn't 100% sure. It was like reading poetry by someone who isn't completely out yet which I read a lot of at the college lit magazine.

However, by the end of that last book I had lost most of my respect for Dumbledore anyhow. The gayness had nothing to do with it. It was the narcissism.
Yes, I know he admitted it as his primary fault, but that cutteth little ice with me.

And was Rowling implying that the two, narcissism and homosexuality, are linked?
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From:jordan179
Date:October 29th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
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I actually kind of liked the way that J. K. Rowling juxtaposed the hagiographic bio of Dumbledore with Rita Skeeter's mudslinging, and then showed that the mudslinging was based on truth evilly interpreted.

Because quite a lot of what Rita claimed, turned out to actually be true. It's just that Rita put the nastiest possible connotations on it all.

A really effective lie should always be built around a kernel of truth.
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From:kokorognosis
Date:October 30th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
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Hmm. I had heard tale of this; kind of ignored it. After the new Star Wars movies, I have grown skilled at picking and choosing canon :p

I don't have a huge amount of Potter-experience, having only seen the movies and only recently developed an appreciation for them as something other than cute little fairy tales, but sexuality has never really seemed to be a driving force in the series. Which is normal, I'd assume-- they're children's novels.

The announcement just strikes me as lame; it feels like an episode of the week thing-- today on [insert show] we're going to do a [hot topic of the moment] themed episode to show that we're current and that we feel you all!

And to disguise the fact that we don't actually have ideas of our own, we'll say it's "ripped from the headlines" so it doubly appears to be relevant.

I guess I'm like you... I don't have a problem with homosexual characters per se, but it seriously irks the crap out of me when it's random, or a theme episode.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 30th, 2007 02:15 pm (UTC)
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"Every review I’ve seen is jumping on the bandwagon to show how tolerant they are, no one seems willing to say: “Hey, that was really inappropriate, you know!"

Quite simply, no one wants to be the little boy who cries out, "The emperor has no clothes." Maybe Rowling has been reading Pullman.
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 2nd, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
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Weird, I got a response in my email that is not showing up here. Maybe it will show soon?

Juliet Winters wrote: I remember my daughter really enjoyed these early on, about age 9...but when the gay underpinnings became extremely evident as the series wore on, well, we just stopped watching it.
It did get her very interested in animae.
So interested that she discovered much more frank depictions of animae lesbian sex online just by thumbing through cute looking animae catalogs.

I agree with you, Jagi, that sexualization of characters in children's books is highly inappropriate--perhaps even evil, as it accustoms children to looking upon their own bodies as desirable playthings for others without a touch of sacredness to them.

My response: Funny you brought that up because I was just talking about that today. In the first 14 or so episodes of Utena, there's only a bit of indication of where it is going, and the story is pretty good for a young girl...then it all goes wrong, so to speak. (Both surrealistically weird and perverse.) I've often wondered how Central Park Media was going to handle this marketing-wise.

The Japanese idea introduced in books on Shojo was that it was considered safe for girls to like that kind of thing because it kept them away from boys/getting pregnant...but I think it's more insidious than that. It is hard to learn your proper roll in society. If we are always bombarding kids with things that suggest that their roll is different, it confuses them.

I like your thoughts on the matter!
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From:sun_stealer
Date:January 8th, 2008 07:53 am (UTC)
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The worst part was that it was very--the only way to express it is to make up a word--unliterary. She gave this revelation at a cocktail party, not in any of her books. It would be like Neal Stephenson explaining at a bar, that Hiro Protagonist was lactose intolerant. I think Mrs. Rowling only invented that extraliterary plot twist on the spot to ingratiate herself with her lefty friends at the cocktail party.
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From:arhyalon
Date:January 10th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
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> It would be like Neal Stephenson explaining at a bar, that Hiro Protagonist was lactose intolerant.

Boy, that made me laugh.
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