So Albus Perceival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore has come out of the closet. For the uninitiated, read this.
Hmm.. I wonder why this comes out now. I can already see Harry Potter book sales zooming high in the next couple of weeks; or people re-reading their copies of Potter 1 to 7 looking for clues that would indicate that Dumbledore was gay, and was smitten by Grindelwald.
But Why? Was this just a routine admission, or was this a well-orchestrated publicity stunt to ensure JKR stays in the news for a few more
weeks years to come? All evidence points to the latter – coming out of the closet is not something people are lax about. And JKR very well knows what impact any admission about any character in her series can have – everyone’s so interested in James Potter’s childhood (He was an only child, born pretty late to his parents and hence was a very pampered, boisterous boy), in Ginny’s real name(Ginevra, not Virginia), in the dates of Ron’s and Hermione’s birthdays (March 1 and September 19), in the shape of Snape’s patronus (Doe)…. and revelation of someone’s sexuality is enough news for the press for the next couple of weeks at the very least – What’s the betting ToIlet Paper comes up with a chronicle of gay characters in fiction in the next one week, with expert opinions from Bobby Darling?
Another issue this throws up is her utter lack of social responsibility. Kids the world over are going to grow up this week, if they haven’t already. But how ready are they? The age of the average reader ranges from age 7 or 8 to ten times that… and it’s the younger ones who have HP memorabilia… and who surf the Net googling for “Harry Potter rumours”.
More so, how ready are their parents to explain the concept of alternative sexuality to these kids? Most chances are, they’ll end up passing their prejudices on to their kids.
But then how many kids would even ask their parents? They’d probably google for it. Or ask their better-informed(?) friends. Disaster yet again.
How far we’ve come since the days of Satyajit Ray throwing up his hands in despair and telling his wife he’s had enough of writing Feluda mysteries, coz it’s so hard to write smart detective stories for children without crime passionel, without illicit love, without romantic undertones! (but always, always coming back and penning yet another awesome story).
I wonder what’d be the reaction of the gay community to this bit of news? Initially I guess they’ll cause a zoom in the sales of the HP books. With this, JKR joins the league of Karan Johar who keeps the world guessing about his sexuality (“My sexuality is my business and no one else’s”), neither affirming nor denying anything, and putting not-so-subtle jokes targeted at the community in his movies. Kantaben has found company.
This is what happens to marginalized sections of the society. They become vote banks. And niche markets. How I wish they stand up to such exploitation and stereotyping by the media. But no, not in India, coz that’d mean coming out of the closet. And more and more publicity agents will take a leaf out of Karan Johar’s book, and hell, for all we know KJ might be secretly married (to a woman) with three kids.
And misinformation and stupid stereotypes will be the norm. People with a “liberal” sense of humour will tell jokes like “Two gay robbers broke into my house, rearranged the furniture and left”. Gay characters in movies will always be explosively so, or repressed ones coming out of the closet in an extremely explosive way. And they’ll never be the main characters.. they’ll only be providing comic relief. Or at best, caricatures, like Mrs. Subramaniam Iyer in Mr. And Mrs. Iyer (Iyer women are NOT like the character Konkona Sen played, take it from me), or Sridevi in and as Malini Iyer (Her “father-in-law-jee” was too much to take for me).
Ms. JKR, the next time you want to publicize yourself or your series, just simply let the pages of your new manuscript fly apart at Times Square, or tell us what happens beyond the veil, or that the politics at the Ministry of Magic is based on Watergate, or that your series is inspired by Star Wars.
You can also memorize the history of The Beatles and start a “JKR is Dead” publicity stunt. If in case you’re sick of all the publicity and want to retire in anonymity, you can always say you’re more popular than Jesus.
But please, do us all a favor…. Just leave innocence alone, pretty please?