Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Beef with JK Rowling

Book lovers owe JK Rowling a lot. She gave us Harry Potter. For many of us who grew up with the boy who survived, life became more magical for having expanded to include the meticulously detailed world she had created and brought to such glorious life. Thanks to her efforts, millions of readers were birthed throughout the world who would have otherwise spent the developmental phase having their brains turned to bread pudding from overexposure to their Television sets. Instead we all learned to expand our minds and hearts, were taught valuable lessons on the evils of discrimination, intolerance and cruelty to other species in a fun way without ever having to endure being preached at in addition to acquiring a keen appreciation for the Queen’s English. You have to love JK Rowling for this and more.
            In recent times, though I have come to admire Harry Potter’s creator even more, because she doggedly worked on the series and gave us the seven books that were promised without leaving us high and dry like the recalcitrant author of a certain epic fantasy series featuring a delicious plot, violence, nudity and dragons. Having acknowledged her overall awesomeness, let us move on.
 Some of the Potter maniacs (like myself) were less than ecstatic when Rowling sold the movie rights thereby forcing Daniel Radcliffe and the exquisite Emma Watson into our consciousness every time we re – read the books. The casting choice for the latter was particularly galling, since the book clearly describes Hermione Granger as bushy – haired and ‘long – molared’ whereas Emma Watson was the cutie who grew up to be a hottie. And then there was the endless stream of merchandise which was foisted on us by vested commercial interests. How are we supposed to believe in Harry Potter’s innocence and the purity of his soul when he has become a hack coercing us to buy crap we don’t really need? But this was a minor offense compared to what came later.
            When the seventh book came out, Potter fans were delighted that Rowling had seen fit to spare Harry and his two best friends especially after their creator had seemed inclined to go on arbitrary killing sprees which saw her bumping off beloved characters like Dumbledore (I went into hysterics when the great man passed), Sirius Black, Hedwig, Fred, Lupin and Tonks with indecent haste. We bid adieu to the beloved characters who seemed peaceably settled into the humdrum rhythm of a monotonous life. But the author seems to have trouble letting go.
            In the decade since the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, the last book of the series, Rowling has taken to releasing endless titbits of information related to the Potter World in interviews or via social media. Some revelations were momentous like the bombshell which exploded to reveal Dumbledore was gay and or that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together (Gasps!) while others were trifling, for instance, Teddy Lupin is in Hufflepuff. This compulsive need she seems to have to return to the wizarding world for regular nip and tuck procedures with the occasional augmentation, enhancement or implant while not outright grotesque does seem indicative of a process addiction that does not bode well for the writer and reader both.
            Those who devoured her books word for word tend to feel cheated when all these fresh additions are sneaked into a constantly burgeoning database that is destined to remain unwritten and therefore not technically a part of the story proper. Which is why it is annoying to be told that Dumbledore was gay even if it makes sense because it would made even more sense had it been properly woven into the narrative. Harry and Hermione shared a beautiful friendship without a whiff of romantic love or sexual tension which is why it stank when Rowling shot that all to hell. As for the rest of the tweaking, why not give it a rest already?
It is the sort of thing that makes one suspect her intentions and wonder if it is a marketing ploy to keep interest levels high since there has been official confirmation that there is a Harry Potter sequel play and three prequel films in the works all of which will also be released as books. Hopefully Rowling knows better than to damage the world she has so painstakingly created by reducing sweet Harry to a soul – sucking sell out, fouler than a dementor!

The edited version of this column appeared in The New Indian Express.



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