Thursday, November 01, 2007

Prof. Dumbledore

Okay, so yeah, this is something I should've posted about last week (or the week before that). I spoke with my mom last night about ol' Dumbledore being outed by J.K. Rowling and we had a difference of opinion. Mom thinks Rowling did it to keep "book sales alive", which probably may have been an interest. I think Rowling may have originally wanted to have gay characters in her book but her publishers realized that to have that in the books would have limited the appeal and range of her books. So she didn't include any in her books.

It wasn't until a book reading at Carnegie Hall in New York City that she outed the famous headmaster. And wowsers, what a firestorm erupted.

This week I watched a video from a news station that aired a report with a Christian fundamentalist organization led by Robert Knight, naming the "evil" of all Potter books based upon this new revelation. And if that weren't enough, he cannot help but add that sexual diseases are rampant within the gay community. What is up with that!? It isn't as if most Christian fundamentalists weren't already boycotting the book due to the 'witcraft and wizardry' that they felt opened the door for occultic experimentation. No, that may have been bad but having a gay headmaster is the final straw! To Knight, this is one more example of the "evil gay empire" taking over America.

You know, I have mixed feelings about the Dumbledore revelation. I would have enjoyed it if Rowling had alluded to it better in her books or just flat out said it. I understand why she didn't but a few better placed allusions would certainly have made for a more fun reread. So, she waits until after she's made millions to announce that even though you'd never know, Dumbledore is gay. I wonder if there are other characters in the book that are?

And, I wonder how everyone would respond if it was another character--good or bad--that was outed instead of Dumbledore? What if Voldemort were gay? Wouldn't it have been an interesting storyline if... no wait, I'll stop there. But how would everyone respond if one of the fictional character's sexual orientation had been someone else? How would that conversation change?

On some level you have to admit the brilliance that from now on, everyone will know about Dumbledore. And having that kind of role model for young kids is inspiring for sure--even if that inspiration comes secondhand.

As for the Christian fundies, now they simply have another reason to hate the Potter books. Although their voices may seem to matter less to some, there are still many people, regardless of their intelligence, who listen to and agree with them. As a result, it becomes important to hear them and discover what really makes them angry. There are a lot of issues and problems in American culture, to single out Dumbledore and Harry Potter up and against our challenging economy, lack of health insurance (and therefore the ability to pay healthcare costs), and the war in Iraq and its bloody requirement is ludicrous. And it's telling. Popular culture seems to challenge the sensibilities of religious fundamentalists in a way that real-life issues of poverty, war, and crime seem to escape. What kind of faith do we have when Dumbledore's sexuality is more important than poverty? Why aren't the fundies boycotting something in the government, or protesting healthcare facilities, or rallying against mortgage brokers and schools who don't educate nearly as often as they police?

An outsider needs only to examine popular culture to see the real issues that concern Americans. Is it any wonder that our priorities are so f*cked up and that the mess we're in is only getting worse?

No comments: