Whatever sells…. oh, whatever.


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?

About wanderlust

just your average books-and-music person who wants to change the world.
This entry was posted in Controversies, Harry Potter, Reading, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Whatever sells…. oh, whatever.

  1. ish says:

    This is good, I really like this post because it looks at all aspects of what JK R did. I thought nobody else would even think about it the way I did but here you are. Now with the news channels showing this news right, left and center, things will get difficult for the kids. We know that Indian parents have always been shy when it comes to things related with sex. They won’t even tell their kids about STD’s till they are of a certain age. And now what if a 8 year old asks his dad about what’s the big deal about Dumbledore being gay and what is gay altogether? I know I’m merely repeating what you said in your post but it’s a very important point. I wonder why JKR got so explicit towards the end of the series. I never thought this movie would talk about kisses but the 6th book was full of it. But then that can be justified because the characters are growing up and these things happen in everybody’s life. But the parents which won’t understand kissing, how can they understand a person being gay? I think Rowling should have been more responsible. If she just HAD to tell it to bring a new angle in the story, she could have done it in book 7 in that Rita Skeeter book about Dumbledore. That would have been an interesting news indeed. Her point in saying that Dumbledore didn’t find true love cause he was gay is completely wrong as well. Publicity stunts are always like that, cheap and annoying. And the media hype makes it all the more annoying.

  2. I, to differ from you, think she did a good thing. It breaks the gay stereotype in ways that no character has been able to; after all Dumbledore has been portrayed as a strong, duelling warrior wizard type. Qualities that aren’t necessarily associated with the gay stereotype. Whatever may be the motive, this is a good move on JK’s part. Also, it’s time children in the 10-12 age group knew about alternate sexuality. Parents, should they choose to not be prudes forever, can so much as come out of their carapaces and explain to their kids of an alternative truth. And if Dumbledore and JK are aiding the process, one couldn’t be happier. Hence also, I do not agree with the “Leave Innocence Alone Please” line.
    But otherwise, nice post.

  3. wanderlust says:

    @ish:
    amen
    @spunky monkey:
    true, it does break the stereotype. but for that, there’s elton john, vikram seth, and sanjay suri in My Brother Nikhil, apart from, of course, Alan Turing. There’s also SRK in his first-ever movie role in arundati roy’s In Which Annie Gives It To Those Ones
    I don’t share your optimism in the parents department. Why, my own peers think homosexuality is something unnatural, one of them even talks of “people _inspired_ by My Brother Nikhil”. most parents dont tell their kids the complete truth about procreation. And most kids I know found out about things by themselves, or from their friends.
    And “parents” includes folks who consider intercourse as something sinful, who have conflicting, and sometimes shockingly retrograde views on things like contraception and abortion, or even, for that matter, gender equality, it’s hard to expect most to pass on the “right” views on homosexuality to their kids.
    why, it might end up working the other way.. kids now will be told from a very young age homosexuality is something to avoid, it’s “unnatural”, dumbledore or no dumbledore… even the most liberal of parents would rather their kids dont experiment here… technically it’s illegal for godsake. and lessons garnered that young tend to stick.
    And considering this is something people much older are not still clear about, it doesn’t do to burden children that young with additional confusions and identity crises.

  4. Pingback: Brighton Rock « The NITK Numbskulls Page

  5. dushy1986 says:

    Wonderful

    Iyer girls are surely not like Mrs.Iyer portrayed ,but iyer mothers are like Mrs.Iyer mothers!

    Aint?

  6. the Monk says:

    Chill maadu. As if kids wouldn’t have found out sooner or later from all/some/most/other of those sources you mentioned.

  7. wanderlust says:

    @the monk:
    No, finding out is not the issue. it’s about how and how much and when.
    read the posts here, here and here
    That’s the point im trying to make.

  8. At last! A person with an opinion!
    đŸ™‚

  9. Malaveeka says:

    A very excellent post this.

    Absolutely right. But I think the right age to talk of sexuality are the ages of 10 and above. Although explanationas about homosexuality do not always neccesarily have to do completely with sex itself. As you rightly pointed out, it mostly is prejudice. But assuming people of ages 30 and above have children who are 7 and 8,I’m thinking these parents shouldn’t have that big an issue with talking about homosexuality and could be a little more open about it.

  10. Pingback: Childhood, censorship, and other things « The NITK Numbskulls Page

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