Whenever JK Rowling trends, I close my eyes in fear. Here we go again, I think, knowing she must’ve tweeted something again or added some new unnecessary retcon to the Harry Potter world (which, by the way, she once said she’d leave behind). From unnecessary shoehorning diversity for the sake of being called diverse to being labeled a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), JK Rowling has been under fire so often, people have begun to wonder what she’ll do next.
I remember waiting for the next book in pure excitement, wanting so badly to read the next installment or to see the new film come out. Back then it was all about the characters, the fun, the magic of it all. It was fun being a Harry Potter fan, it was fun having crushes on the characters and actors (Fred Weasley I love you FOREVER), it was fun just to sort each other in houses and imagine all kinds of wacky antics you and your friends would get into.
When the series ended, we all collectively applauded, cried, and smiled at the memories we had of Harry’s journey forever.
That is, until, the retcons, additional Twitter facts, and the contradictions in the new franchises began.
While many of these fun facts (that she usually drops on Twitter) aren’t always retcons, they just sometimes seem unnecessary and completely just for fanservice. For those unfamiliar, a retcon (short for retroactive continuity) is when someone (usually the author or producers of something) introduces a piece of information that changes things in an already established universe of a narrative or a story that totally changes some parts of the story or character. Like how Voldemort, a dark wizard born from a love potion who is essentially loveless, could have a child (the timeline itself would be so confusing–Bellatrix would have had to be visibly pregnant by then but it’s not mentioned in the books nor shown in the movies–it’s so confusing).
Another problematic addition to the canon is that Nagini wasn’t just a snake, but a cursed Asian woman. Rowling came under fire for this decision, especially since the only other Asian character is named “Cho Chang,” which, to many, seemed like a really stereotypical Asian name that felt lazy. The backlash for this decision was wild and had Rowling trend again, like she’s trended thousands of times before.
JK Rowling is practically famous for introducing these little tidbits and retcons now, unable to put down the lore that she’d written years back to keep adding to it. Some of these things have started to completely contradict what was already established while others are just so unnecessary that we question her intentions–is it all just for fanservice?
Even the Fantastic Beasts films now make things more confusing, with Appare Vestigium, a spell that lets you track where someone’s been, showing vivid images of where they went. Which makes everyone question: Why didn’t people use this to find Pettigrew? To find Sirius Black when he escaped from Azkaban?? To look for Harry when he was in the Ministry of Magic????? So many questions, so many unnecessary twists. It’s just frustrating.
Adding Minerva McGonagall to the Fantastic Beasts series also doesn’t add up–literally. We know that in 1995 that she says she’s been teaching in Hogwarts for 39 years and was born in 1935. So why is it she’s suddenly 30 years old in 1927, years before she’d even been conceived? Disappointing.
Not only that, but her continuous, brow-raising tweets about sex and gender that anger and ostracize many of her LGBT readers (especially transgender readers) have people sighing and rolling their eyes. With a single tweet, she can create Twitter controversies that last for days. And it’s just tiring. It’s like we’re all anxious for when she tweets, worried it’s about another problematic thing or another Harry Potter tidbit that either interrupts the long-established lore or tries to insert something to service fans that is in no way necessary.
I miss being able to just enjoy the books and films without having to confront the fact that the author keeps dipping her toes in or stirring the proverbial pot (Potions reference!). I miss watching the movies without having to feel that despairing feeling in my stomach about all the problematic arguments surrounding its creator. It used to be fun to be a Potter fan and it still is, but I don’t like having to defend enjoying something that used to be just all fun and enchantment.
On the bright side, it seems as if the fandom, in its numbers and strength, has banded together to just take the story in its own hands and nurture it for what it was–magical. It’s like many of us disregard what Rowling has to say now and linger in that moment of magic we had in our collective childhood, continuing to love the films and movies on their own while trying our best to ignore what Rowling has to say now. And if that’s the silver lining of all this, sign me up. I love Harry Potter and I love what it did for my childhood, all the controversy around it be damned.