Separating Art from the Artist (J. K. Rowling)

Is it possible to love something that was made by a horrible person? What if you didn’t find out how horrible the person was until much later down the road? This is a topic I have seen being discussed at length all over Twitter lately, following the comments made by J. K. Rowling in regards to the phrase “people who menstruate”. She came across as completely transphobic and non-inclusive, saying things like “if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans”. I’ll include the tweets here:

It is clear to see that this is unacceptable for someone in her position to say. She has a huge platform and following (most of which was gained from young adults who fell in love with her world) and the way she is alienating a group of people is irresponsible and hateful. It hurts that she feels the need to go after trans people in this way, especially when the books she created preach a story of overcoming adversity and empowering not only yourself but the people around you.

Obviously we are all disappointed in the way JKR has decided to use her platform and her reach and there is an easy answer to how to address this, and that is to unfollow her and stop giving her our money. She needs to understand that this way of thinking is harmful to people we care about and she can’t get away with it. There is another side of this, however, that is a bit more complicated to address. What about all the books, movies, and other products that we all already own in the Harry Potter franchise? Can we still enjoy these things while condemning their creator?

Most of us in the writing and blogging community love to read. I would wager to guess that for most of us this love of reading stems from our experience with Harry Potter at a young age. The Harry Potter books are some of the most important books to me because they showed me my first look at an expansive world built over multiple books. The feeling I got from these stories had me completely enthralled from the beginning of book 1 to the end of book 7. I went to every movie as soon as it came out, I loved absolutely everything about this world. So again I have to ask the question, is it possible to still enjoy something that was so integral and important to me in becoming the person I am today, even though the person that created it has outed herself as a bigot?

I think the importance of this franchise and world has outgrown the original author. It might seem like a weird thing to say, but I really believe that Harry Potter belongs as much (if not more) to the fans as it does to JKR. There are so many of us that attribute who we have grown up to be, to this franchise and honestly I don’t think there is anything JKR can do to take that away from us. JKR revealing herself to be a horrible person doesn’t take away from the fact that her books stand for something better. Her books inspire young people to stand up for themselves and be true to themselves as they overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. These are books that I think everyone can get something valuable from and I still think they should be read and enjoyed.

I am doing a re-read of these books currently. I have almost finished the first book and review and after seeing these tweets from JKR I was on the fence about posting these re-read reviews. I didn’t want to give more of a platform to her hate and vitriol, but at the same time I think it might be just as important to call her out for what she is doing even while I love her work. I do believe I will go through with the re-read posts, but I wanted to know what you all thought about it? Let me know in the comments below.

I will say that I do not plan on giving JKR anymore money than I already have, I don’t think she deserves it. The set of books I just recently received for my birthday will likely be the last set I ever own, so I guess I need to make sure I keep them in pristine condition! I think we should enjoy the books and other merch we already have, as getting rid of it doesn’t hurt her in anyway whatsoever, I just don’t know if I am able to continue to talk about HP. As the old saying goes, all press is good press, so even if we talk about the books and criticize her we are still bringing attention to her. She honestly doesn’t deserve any more attention than she is already getting. I know I don’t have the biggest platform, but if we all took this approach we could really hurt the platform she has and limit the spread of her hateful comments. We can still love Harry Potter while condemning JKR, and honestly using our love of HP might make our condemnation of JKR even more powerful.

As always, thanks so much for reading! Let me know what you think about all this in the comments below. I really want to know how this has affected your outlook on the world of Harry Potter. It is difficult to see someone I looked up to for most of my life turn out to be this hateful, it is extremely disappointing. Either way, be sure to check back for new posts (at least) every Wednesday and Saturday and sign-up via email to make sure you never miss a post! Be safe and have a great day!

Author: Jacob @ Books and Pixels

Jacob is a blogger with a passion for books and video games. He is a college student studying marketing and hopes to one day turn his passion for writing and marketing into a career. You can find his work here on Books and Pixels as well as the up and coming sports blog The Spark.

25 thoughts

    1. It makes me so mad that she has put so many of her fans in this place where we have to feel horrible about wanting to continue loving something we grew up with. Harry Potter means so much to so many, if only JKR could just be a better person..

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I can’t speak for anyone else, but if an artist does something really egregiously wrong or bad, or even that goes against my beliefs, I can not separate the art from the artist. Even if I liked their work before, and then I find out something to the contrary, I can no longer hold them in the same regard as I did before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Whether or not people can separate the art from the artist is a tricky question. Sadly, JKR’s most recent comment is just one in a long list of disgusting transphobic comments that she’s made and I do imagine her comments will taint some fans’ enjoyment of the books, especially those who are trans themselves. I’m not a huge HP fan, but if one of my favourite authors made derogatory comments such as these, it would make me read their books through a different lens, I’d constantly be reading between the lines, looking for evidence of their views in their work if that makes sense. Great post. Really thought provoking 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I suppose like you said it depends on the situation.

    With Harry Potter I feel like those books are mine they’ve gotten me through some hard times and what JK spouts on Twitter won’t affect my relationship with those books/movies if that makes sense. But I’m unlikely to support her future projects.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post! One of the best I’ve read on the subject, and I’ve seen a lot of reactions online about JKR’s comments re trans people.

    I read JKR’s original tweets plus the essay the first commenter linked above: I was frankly taken aback (to put it nicely) by her views of trans people and sexual dysphoria. I want to say everyone has their blind spots, and sometimes you have to teach them why they’re wrong. But—Rowling is not a stupid person; her argument that a cisgender woman transitioning to male is a rejection of womanhood is, though. It’s like watching someone leap into a pit of quicksand and continue to muck around in it while sinking deeper and deeper in the mess. She wastes so much of her time and talent trying to defend an indefensible position.

    Some of it might be her age—she’s 54, and I know a few women in her/my age group who call themselves feminists but who share similar views about trans men and women because they can’t get beyond the belief that someone born a man can’t possibly know what a “real” woman goes through. (I crack up when someone says, “How would you feel if a man who claims he’s a trans woman uses the restroom while you’re in it?” I’m not in the habit of looking to see who’s in the next stall, honey.)

    I’ve been lucky in that I know a couple of trans women who had the patience to explain what they had gone through and why. Rowling says she used to be a teacher, but a good teacher knows one critical skill is letting your students speak and listening to them carefully. I suspect however that Rowling’s gotten so used to being treated like literary royalty, she thinks her opinion is gospel. Which is extremely sad, in so many ways.

    That said, I’m not going to forbid my grandchildren from reading Harry Potter: I feel like that’s an experience they should have for themselves. My kids, who grew up with HP, are more angry about this because they admired Rowling for creating a magical world that they loved and got lost in. They feel betrayed, and I don’t blame them. But I don’t see them throwing their Harry Potter books out. Yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A well written response as always! I agree Rowling seems like she has gotten used to being lauded for everything she says. She comes across as someone who isn’t challenged on much of anything in her personal life.

      I think I’m feeling a lot like your children in terms of feeling betrayed by someone I looked up to. It really sucks to have something you love this much be tainted like this, there’s no other way around it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said 👌 I find it completely disheartening that someone who weaves such a wonderful story (the Potter world has been a part of my life for 20 odd years) and it’ll always be a favourite, I mean, it shaped me as the reader I am today. However, I’m completely horrified by her statements and won’t be reading anything new she writes, I daresay.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this post! Harry Potter was and is still a huge part of my life and I believe shaped the person I am today. My Nan (who is now unfortunately deceased) waiting in pouring rain the get me several first editions and they still sit (on the top shelf) in prime position in my house. They are so special to me and I’ve been trying to find a way to keep that love alive despite the fact I am appalled by what jk Rowling has said.
    I needed this post, so thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You said it the simplest and truest way. I have the same sentiment with you, I mean even before this tweet of JKR ever exploded, there really are authors who have a lot of controversies but I couldn’t NOT like there books, hence I have come to an understanding that sometimes we love the output even though we do not like the creator. By accepting that fact, that just means that I made my life less complicated and contains less negativity.

    Liked by 1 person

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