Every year, Potterheads celebrate Harry Potter Day on May 2 to commemorate the Battle of Hogwarts. Are you partying with an online meetup with your fellow friends and presenting them with magical gifts? Me, I will celebrate the 24th anniversary of Voldemort’s defeat by re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – and with a cake, as it is my birthday as well!
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
I read this chapter so many times I could recite it to you at this point. It feels like it was only yesterday that I opened the first pages of the first chapter in the Harry Potter series. Somehow time flew us by instead, and next year is going to be the 25th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Wicked, right?
From the completion of the book series, to the writing of the controversial sequel theater screenplay The Cursed Child and finally the Fantastic Beasts movie series, J.K.Rowling has kept expanding and adding to the universe in various shapes. Much to the dismay of many fans, I might add.
Whether you grew up as the books from the main series came out (as I did), or whether you were born after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released on the big screen, Harry Potter certainly has had a huge impact on our collective imaginary. Thinking of magic and wizards without at least drawing inspiration from the Harry Potter universe is nearly impossible. Just scrolling on TikTok you will encounter thousands of videos with the #hogwarts tag – which has videos tagged with it for around 18.5B total views!
It’s safe to say that by this point we all know our Hogwarts House and made it a part of our persona online. From Harry Potter themed parties to proper sorting ceremonies, all Potterheads have their own cherished memories tied to the books series. Mine are of happening upon an English copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a random supermarket and convincing my father to buy it for me when I was 15.
Harry, Hermione and Ron all grew up in the span of the 7 books, and so did we. And although the universe still enjoys strong popularity, the same cannot be said for its author JK Rowling.
In the past few years, the writer has been heavily criticized for her seemingly off-hand comments on the book or characters. Somehow under the assumption that anything coming from her would always be welcomed with open arms by readers, J.K. Rowling kept on shamelessly adding to her characters long after the story was done.
“The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”
If these comments stopped at her characters perhaps there would be a way to look past. However, the intolerance and hate that she kept hidden away surfaced in 2019, where the researcher Maya Forstater was fired after making several transphobic tweets. Among others, Rowling announced on her Twitter her support for the researcher. Under the false guise of “feminism” the author kept pushing for transgender exclusionary ideology again and again, going as far as writing a lenghty letter on her website to address the topic. She acts “concerned” about the new waves of what she calls “trans activism” – constantly diminishing the experience of transgender women.
Her public meltdown on Twitter was followed then by her book Troubled Blood published under a pseudonym, in which the main antagonist is “a serial killer who lures his victims into a false sense of security by dressing as a woman.” There is honestly no way of looking at her work, or her words, as anything else other than deeply transphobic.
“Pity the living, and above all pity those who live without love,” Dumbledore says to Harry in Deathly Hallows. And although there is little to pity Rowling for, we can definitely feel sorry for the way these waves of hate wrapped around our memories of childhood and magic. As Fantastic Beasts is still an ongoing movie series and there are even rumors over various potential TV spinoffs, Harry Potter will surely keep inspiring new generations of fans.
On the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, I believe it’s more important than ever to remember the saga as a triumph of love over hate. Lily’s sacrifice for Harry out of her love for him is one of the pivotal moments in the story, and the main reason that he was finally able to defeat Voldemort.
As Roland Barthes says, “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.” In other words, a text does not end with the writer putting down their pen. You, the reader, can give the story your own meaning.
On this May 2nd, let’s pick up our own wands and celebrate magic and love.
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