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Celebrities Movies Pop Culture

What boycotting JK Rowling means on the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter

It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you believe in equal rights and you support the trans community in spirit. That you call yourself an LGBTQIA+ ally and wear rainbows in June and march at Pride with your queer friends. If you support J.K. Rowling instead of boycotting her, all of that is performative. Because it’s easy to advocate for human rights in the face of overt injustice, against people who want to openly deny people rights. But when it’s time to really take a stand, to renounce something you like because it’s problematic, will you do it? Will you stand with your queer friends then?

J.K. Rowling has said a lot of things that were transphobic. There is no way around it at this point. The author has reiterated her points time and time again with conviction. And a few other things that made me lose faith in her long before that. Now, people coming to her defense will say she is entitled to her own personal opinion. That she is not hurting anyone with her thoughts. That she changed her perspective recently and spun her argument around women’s safety rather than trans rights. But the issue is much more complex than that. Her thoughts, per se, aren’t hurting anyone. But her words? J.K. Rowling has a terrifyingly immense fanbase. Her words are endangering trans lives.

When she tweets about her own prejudice against trans individuals, she is preaching to an echo chamber of millions of people who listen to her as if the world hangs from her keyboard. People who feel validated in their own ignorance and hatred. People who go out there and spread that message and turn it into discriminatory and violent acts.

This needs to be established. Words have consequences. Celebrities especially, who hold so much mediatic power, need to be held accountable for their actions.

I am sick of hearing people my age, people who should know better, that they have stopped supporting J.K. Rowling when they still buy her new books and go see her new movies. That is the definition of supporting an author. Unfollowing on social media is not enough to boycott somebody.

The reason why Rowling is so rich isn’t that she sold billions of books – although that certainly contributed. It’s that she gets royalties. As of 2020, her biggest source of income are the Wizarding World theme parks. She also gets a cut from every time television airs a film based on her books. A cut from every cinema or theatre ticket sold (don’t go see Cursed Child, it’ll be an actual waste of your savings). A cut from every item of Harry Potter merchandising you buy your friends for Christmas. If you truly want to show you don’t support her, then stop supporting her.

I know, I know Harry Potter was your childhood. It was my childhood too. And my teenage years. I named my dog after a Harry Potter character. I still have posters up in my childhood bedroom. Like many in my generation, I am the person I am thanks to Harry Potter. I still love the characters. I still stay up at night reading and writing fanfiction inspired by the world of Harry Potter. But I go out of my way to make sure nothing I do supports a person with transphobic views. I go out of my way to make sure more and more people know what supporting her means for certain people.

Not everyone wants to be an activist, and that’s fair. What I find truly unacceptable is people claiming ignorance. “I’m a feminist and I don’t agree with what she said about trans people, but let me enjoy Potter in peace.” It doesn’t work like that. If you’re an ally as you claim to be, you shouldn’t enjoy Harry Potter in peace. You should fight against the powerful person telling millions of people that we aren’t all equal, a powerful person claiming that some people deserve fewer rights than others. Isn’t that what Hermione and Harry would do? Isn’t that what they did do?

I’m not saying we need to collectively disown and renounce Harry Potter, throw away our memorabilia and burn the books. I’m not saying we should pretend to hate it or that we never loved it in the first place. I’m saying we should take what it taught us and use it to make the world a kinder place. And yes, paradoxical as it sounds, that includes boycotting its creator.

It’s not a moral dilemma. We can enjoy a story and disagree with the author’s political views 20+ years after she wrote the books, it’s as straightforward as that. Philosopher Roland Barthes, a pillar in literary theory, comes to our aid in this: he coined a concept called la morte de l’auteur, quite literally “the death of the author.” Barthes encourages readers to split an author from their works and to view them as two separate entities. The author has full agency over the work, but relinquishes their authority over it the moment a work of art becomes public; it stops belonging to the author and it becomes property of its users, who are free to do with it what they will. This theory is also the most strenuous defender of fanfiction and fanart in the eternal debate around transformative works. Like John Green once exemplified and paraphrased, “books belong to their readers.”

J.K. Rowling owns the rights to Harry Potter (as she should, given she’s written it), but she doesn’t own our relationship to it. And we don’t owe her anything in return. There was no blood oath sealed when we first purchased The Philosopher Stone in the 90s or 00s binding us to the book’s author. We did not vow our unquestioned allegiance. Perhaps some of us did when we were younger, overcome with romanticism. Today, we cannot forsake our critical sense in the name of that loyalty.

Keep heart, Potterheads. Harry and his friends and their adventures belong to us. We get to still love them. I do. I have supported J.K. Rowling for over a decade of my life before she started spewing nonsense, but I don’t owe her my integrity now. I don’t owe her anything else but the truth. And the truth is I am, in part, what she made me: a woman who won’t stand for injustice and will speak out against it. It’s almost ironic that it was her own characters that taught me to fight back against her.

Many people are convinced, in theory, by this argument. But in practice, they don’t see what they can contribute. J.K. Rowling is too popular to ever truly boycott, and that may be true. But we should all do our part. If views drop, if ticket sales and book sales drop, eventually, in the long run, the industry will notice. If official merchandise isn’t being sold at the same rate it used to be, there will be a decrease in production. So take those steps. Unfollow her on social media, report her problematic statements. Buy second-hand books, DVDs, merchandise. You will also do some good to the environment and maybe to someone in need. You can also consider supporting small entrepreneurs and fan creators and buying non-official merch. Better to support them than a billionaire and a huge conglomerate like Warner Bros, who certainly doesn’t need your money.

It’s a miracle Warner Bros was able to bring back the entire core cast for the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film. Many of the actors have chosen to distance themselves and even condemned J.K. Rowling for her TERF-sounding statements. In fact, it’s safe to assume many only agreed to come back for the reunion at all because the author would be absent. This choice may look like a damnatio memoriae, like WB itself decided to exclude her from the show, but it’s actually a premeditated marketing move. By excluding her from all promotion of the reunion, they are ensuring the masses are not reminded of Rowling’s recent statements, and that they will purchase an HBO Max subscription and tune in happily with no sour feelings.

On her end, Rowling is also able to, if she chooses, play the victim, the part of the female creator who was excluded from a celebration of her own work of art. Ostracized and written out of the narrative she herself has created. Please do not be fooled by this pity-inducing move. J.K. Rowling is still very much earning royalties from the reunion. She may not be present in person, but she’s still making money out of it. Our nostalgia is once upon played upon and manipulated to enrich her.

Watching Return To Hogwarts on HBO Max still equals supporting J.K. Rowling. Watching the new Fantastic Beasts film does too. It means handing even more power to a person who spoke against trans rights.

Do you want to be on the right side of history?

Categories
Culture History Life

Studying History made me lose all my heroes

Who are your heroes? This a very common question to ask, both in schools and in university applications. Sometimes the question even comes up in job interviews.

However, if studying History has taught me anything, it’s that heroes don’t exist.

After all, all heroes are human.

The first historical character that I became obsessed with was Isabella I of Castile. She was the first queen of Spain and ruled in her own right. She insisted upon choosing her future husband herself and funded Christopher Columbus’ expedition which led to the Spanish conquest of the Americas. I admired the power that she held and the fact that she became a fundamental piece in the history of my country despite being a woman. Nonetheless, I can’t separate this reality from the fact that she was the person that introduced the Inquisition in Spain, as well as the one that expelled the entire Jewish and Muslim population from the country, provoking an enormous diaspora.

They say you lose your hero when you meet them but sometimes just a bit of digging is enough. I thought Isabella’s case would be a one-off, but I kept finding problematic aspects in almost every historical figure I studied.

For example, most of the American Founding Fathers owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson alone owned 2000 of them to work in his plantation. So did Seneca, and, to be honest, almost every famous Roman or Greek person is likely to have as well.

Winston Churchill caused the death of three million Indians due to starvation by deliberately diverting food from India to feed English people during World War II.  He blamed it on them for ‘breeding like rabbits’. He stated that he hated Indians and said that “they are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”

I found problematic aspects in almost all famous historical figures.

Let’s not forget all the figures that had very controversial private lives.

Gandhi, the famous exponent of peaceful resistance and leader of India’s independence movement was known for cheating on his wife and sharing a tent with naked young girls to ‘test his restraint’. How about the fact that Elvis met his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu when she was 14? According to a biographer, Elvis ‘was fascinated with the idea of real young teenage girls’. And, of course, who can forget the accusations against Michael Jackson in the recent documentary Leaving Neverland (I know I’ll never be able to listen to his music the same way).

Even writers I loved when I was younger have posed incredibly hurtful and problematic views. I adored Roald Dahl’s work (Matilda, The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…). Nonetheless, his stories are much less appealing since reading about his 1983 interview, where he said that Hitler ‘didn’t just pick on [the Jews] for no reason,’ adding that ‘there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity’. Orson Scott Card, famous for writing Ender’s Game is known for funding homophobic organizations and has even argued that sodomy laws should still be in effect. It broke my heart to read J.K. Rowling’s recent problematic tweets about transgender people.

The memories that these books left in me will always be there. In the same way, the actions of historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Isabel of Castile, or Winston Churchill changed the world forever, and our society will not be what it is without them.

Instead of admiring people, we should admire specific traits or achievements.

However, their impressive actions can’t erase their problematic ones. Good deeds don’t erase mistakes, particularly if they were never recognized as such. Of course, especially with older figures, we need to recognize the different customs and social views of the time. Nonetheless, the fact that at the time slavery was acceptable, doesn’t mean that we should forget that they owned slaves.

Studying History has taught me that heroes are human and that it is wrong to idolize people. None of us are perfect so why should historical figures be?

Instead of admiring people, we should admire their particular choices or actions. For example, I can admire J.K. Rowling’s dedication to writing when she was a broke single mum and still strongly disagree with her views on transgender people. I admire Isabella’s determination to be a ruling queen and not let her husband take over her Crown but I also despite the policies that she designed against ethnic and religious minorities.

I can aspire to achieve their courage and determination without aspiring to be exactly like them. Our heroes need to fall if we want them to truly serve as motivation for our actions.

Categories
Movies Books Pop Culture

Here’s the big problem with everyone’s fave author, J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling was one of the most influential people of my childhood.

The Harry Potter books shaped my life. I was obsessed, and I still am at 21. But I am mature enough to realize there are problematic aspects. And most importantly, I am mature enough to understand that while I owe J.K. Rowling a lot, I don’t owe her my unconditional love. 

Or my integrity.

I disagree with many of her choices and I don’t support many of the things she has said and done in the past ten years.

In October 2007, three months after the last book in the series came out, Rowling revealed during the American press tour of The Deathly Hallows that Albus Dumbledore, the former Headmaster of Hogwarts, was gay. This revelation came a little too late, unfortunately, as the character was already deceased. 

JKR said she always knew in her mind that Dumbledore was homosexual and in love with his friend-turned-rival Gellert Grindelwald and that it was the “great tragedy” of his life. This came as a shock to most people, as there had been no indication in the books to support this claim. 

I don’t know if JKR actually planned for Dumbledore to be gay all along.

Many thought she made it up for publicity. Many others found it a great step for the normalization of LGBTQ+, especially in 2007, when there wasn’t a lot of representation. More conservative people condemned JKR altogether for even daring to mention that one of her characters might have been homosexual, despite the fact that this was of no consequence in the books.

Rowling later stated that Dumbledore never loved anybody else after Grindelwald and lived the rest of his “celibate and bookish life” – the remaining 100+ years – as asexual

This kind of sounded like a justification of her previous claim. As if to say, “yes, he was gay, but he only had feelings. He didn’t actually engage in sexual activities with anyone. Don’t worry, children at Hogwarts were safe from a would-be older gay predator.” 

Again, this was certainly well before the LGBTQ+ community was more universally accepted, let alone respected. It was a bold move for her to out Dumbledore, but it was simply too little and too late. She chose to play it safe, only saying it after the book’s release and after the character’s death.

Dear old J.K. was never a paladin for the oppressed.

I don’t know if JKR actually planned for Dumbledore to be gay all along or if she came up with it last minute. I understand that it might have been her publisher’s order to erase it from the narrative. 

I personally don’t think that was the case.

Dear old J.K. was never a paladin for the oppressed. She has always played it safe. She chose to use her initials instead of her full name because this way, ‘people’ wouldn’t know she was a woman right away. She also claims that she has played with the idea of writing the books from Hermione’s perspective, but then didn’t because ‘people’ wouldn’t be interested in reading about a girl having adventures. 

She often blames others for her choices.

In the same way, “it’s a book for children” is not a valid excuse for not including a gay character. Homosexuality should not be taboo or something that needs to be censored. By the time the later books were published, some of the films were also out and Harry Potter was a global phenomenon. She probably had the power to stand up to whatever ‘people’ pressured her not to include gay Dumbledore.

This debate recently sparked up again when it was announced that a younger Dumbledore would have a big role in the Fantastic Beasts films. Fans were anticipating to see potential hints at the relationship between Dumbledore/Grindelwald or, at least, Dumbledore’s feelings.

I no longer think of J.K. Rowling as one of my idols, and it’s okay. 

But director David Yates crushed their hopes when he stated in an interview that Dumbledore would not be explicitly gay in the upcoming film. LGBTQ+ fans and allies were enraged to hear about this and the backlash fell on J.K. Rowling since she is obviously the owner of the material and also serves as the screenwriter. 

[Image description: Tweet by J.K. Rowling, "Being sent abuse about an interview that didn't involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that's only one instalment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what's even *more* fun?"] via Twitter
[Image description: Tweet by J.K. Rowling, “Being sent abuse about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read, which is part of a five-movie series that’s only one instalment in, is obviously tons of fun, but you know what’s even *more* fun?”] via Twitter
It’s not over. Feminists across the world were infuriated when JKR defended Johnny Depp and supported his casting in Fantastic Beasts, despite the domestic violence allegations against him.

A lot of longtime HP fans also lost their faith in the author when the script for Cursed Child, the 8th story in the saga, came out. Most people were disappointed by the lack of consistency and bad characterization, not to mention the plot holes.

I no longer think of J.K. Rowling as one of my idols, and it’s okay. 

It doesn’t mean I have to stop liking the books that helped make me the person I am. I can still respect her as a person, and I certainly do not send her hate on social media. 

I actually unfollowed her and simply distanced myself. I’ve stopped supporting her and I won’t buy her next book or pay to see the next movie. 

It’s as simple as that.

 

Update: As of December 19, 2019, Rowling has continued to show a lack of progressive beliefs in action, the latest of which had her defending a woman espousing anti-trans beliefs

[Image description: Tweet by J.K. Rowling, "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who'll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill"] via Twitter
[Image description: Tweet by J.K. Rowling, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”] via Twitter
As of June 2020, Rowling continues to express mildly transphobic opinions on Twitter:

She disappointed again, and instead of taking a step back and apologizing, she continues to fight for her uneducated opinion – while influencing millions of devoted followers.

Categories
Press Pop Culture

Best of The Tempest 2018: 9 Stories from Pop Culture

It’s been a peculiar year in the realm of entertainment. We’ve had such big, progressive victories and such big setbacks and anachronisms in terms of representation, transparency, and inclusivity. Many LGBTQ+ artists thrived, and 2018 was dubbed 20GAYTEEN by singer Hayley Kiyoko. It was the year of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, and yet big name studios are still out there producing films that are imbued with racism, sexism, homophobia, and fatphobia as well as often promoting rape and hate.

We’re still light years away from consuming the egalitarian entertainment we deserve. I knew that very well when I became Pop Culture Editor at The Tempest. I understood that I would have to look closely at many media products that would make me mad, which I would rather ignore and avoid at all costs, but I gladly accepted the challenge. I believe our mission is to shed light on everything that is going on, and that includes denouncing the many injustices that occur in the entertainment industry. We can’t possibly stay silent about the things we deem wrong, because silence is complicity.

But we also don’t like to only see the glass half empty, and we love to admit that there are many things to praise and to celebrate. Without further ado, I present to you 9 of my favorite Pop Culture stories we published in 2018, a mix of the good and the bad.

1. Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Despite the good representation that television and the music industry gifted us with this year, blockbusters are still actively promoting the erasure of female queerness as well as employing queer bait. This is a trend that needs to stay in 2018.

2. What time is it, Hollywood?

What time is it, Hollywood?

What about what happens behind the camera? This article explores some trends of the entertainment industry from the inside out, because actresses are not the only people we need to protect. Let’s say #TimesUp to all kinds of discrimination.

3. Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

There is a big misconception in fiction and in critique: that a female character who dares be different and dislikable is automatically a great feminist heroine. She’s not, and that’s okay.

4. Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

We are tired of people giving J.K. Rowling a free pass for everything just because she wrote a beautiful book series 20 years ago. For a while now, she has been twisting things to appear “woke” instead of honestly admitting that as the times progressed, she also wants to be more inclusive. There is no need to say that she was planning plot twists all along when in reality the implications of that make her way more problematic. Read why in this piece!

5. Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

If you don’t know what an item number is, you need to read this piece. If you do know, you need to read this piece. It’s eye-opening and I will never look at a Bollywood film the same way again.

6. This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

Contrary to what some haters will have you believe about feminists, we do celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of men, when they deserve it. This article is a clap on the back of an Oscar-winning director for an amazing film that contributed to making 2018 better.

7. Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think

Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think 

You may or may not know this show, which was a true revelation for its honest representation of working (and woke!) millennial women. However, the show has been accused of portraying a utopistic world of equality (but it really doesn’t, the protagonists deal with misogyny, racism and homophobia every day). This article cleverly responds to that claim, contextualizing it particularly within the journalism world (where the main characters spend most of their time) that we know too well.

8. Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Abusers deserve to be held accountable for their actions. After the tidal wave that was the #MeToo movement, it’s good to see that celebrities are still being taken down after abusive behavior.

9. My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

A constant struggle in the transition to adulthood is that we are burdened with too many responsibilities and we have too little time to do the things we actually want to do out of sheer pleasure, like reading. It does not help that books have gained a very strong competitor for our time and attention, the “monster” that are streaming services.

We’re ready to kiss 2018 goodbye. In the hope that 2019 will be a more satisfying year for women, people of color, and all oppressed minorities, happy new year from the staff of The Tempest!

Categories
The Internet Movies Books Pop Culture

Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

The new Fantastic Beasts movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald is splitting Potterheads in two, as some are running to midnight showings and others are seething in anger. The recent Harry Potter spin-off is problematic for a host of reasons that span from casting choices to plot holes to poor storytelling decisions.

The issues began when it was announced that Johnny Depp would play Gellert Grindelwald.

Despite accusations of abuse from his ex-wife Amber Heard, J.K. Rowling and David Yates defended their choice and chose not to recast, a decision that left many angry and upset. In light of the fact that Ezra Miller who plays Credence just revealed his own #MeToo moment earlier on in his career, as a long-time Harry Potter fan, the choice to include Depp is disappointing. It also feeds into the fears of #MeToo victims, namely of being brushed off and overlooked for their traumatic experiences. 

Then there’s Dumbledore’s mishandled coming-out story.

In 2007, while on tour, Rowling announced that she had always imagined former Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore to be gay and had only ever been in love with friend-turned-enemy Grindelwald. While there were plenty of anti-gay, homophobic responses, there was a lot of pushback from fans themselves who believed this was yet another failed attempt by Rowling to include diversity in her books.

It would have been fine if Dumbledore had been gay from the beginning but it was never alluded to at all.

Apparently, it was decided (by Warner Bros, maybe?) that Dumbledore’s homosexuality would not play a bit role in The Crimes of Grindelwald, other than a scene in which Dumbledore hints, “We were closer than brothers.” Not only is this a missed opportunity, but once again, Rowling’s previous attempts at inclusion come off as thoughtless and out of context.

Just to mention another one, her portrayal of Harry Potter’s crush Cho Chang, a Chinese student with a name made up of two Korean last names who just had to be a Ravenclaw, played into the unoriginal stereotype of the smart Asian. In the Crimes of Grindelwald trailer, we suddenly learned that Nagini, Voldemort’s snake and Horcrux, had once been a human woman of color. Nagini was all along a Maledictus, “or the human vessel of a blood curse that destines them to eternity as some kind of beast.”

Rowling said she based this story on the Indonesian mythology of Naga or snake-like mythical creatures. This is problematic for many reasons.

Firstly, this revelation means that not only did Nagini become the slave pet of a white supremacist (an idea that plays into the fetishization of Asian women), but it also means that Rowling knowingly allowed a teenager to decapitate an enslaved person without any acknowledgment or mention of this prior.

Then there’s the fact that Nagini will be played by Korean actress Claudia Kim and that the Naga myth first came from India, not Indonesia as Rowling insisted. Including people of color in a story takes careful planning and should present them as full characters, not simply props that are there to fulfill a purpose and then disappear into the background when it’s convenient.

What’s most disappointing to me is that like so many others, I looked up to Rowling and adored the world she created. All of these additions and changes she continues to bring up in respect to the series come off as nothing more than an attempt to stay relevant and add inclusivity to a world that was clearly never very diverse in the first place.

Enjoy this silly video that explains our anger and disappointment in a much easier way:

Categories
Books BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

If you aren’t following Gryffindior on Instagram, you’re probably a Slytherin (or Muggle)

I absolutely loved reading all of the Harry Potter books as a kid. I was in elementary school so the magic of Harry Potter was that much bigger, brighter, and magical. I wanted nothing more than to be Hermione Granger– she’s smart, funny, and oh-so-relatable. 

Despite the scary threat of Voldemort, the world of Harry Potter seemed impossibly gorgeous to me: going to school in a castle, taking the train through the English countryside, and eating especially crazy candies. But the one thing I never envied were the dreadful robes they had to wear. 

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like the clothes of Harry Potter because earlier this year, Rachel Bernstein created Gryffindior.

Bernstein is the senior art director at Moda Operandi and has worked in the fashion industry for nearly a decade. She told Who What Wear that “Gryffindior came about during one of my 3 a.m. “I can’t sleep” moments” and it is a way to “brush up [her] Photoshop skills.” 

And clearly, she has been. 

Gryffindior is an Instagram page that redresses the characters from Harry Potter in Dior!

[Image description: screenshot of Gryffindior Instagram featuring Professor McGonagall in black Dior dress from fall/winter 2016 standing next to Dolores Umbridge.] Instagram.com

When I first started following Gryffindior in January, I loved the cool aesthetic and the combining of a strangely perfect pair. And clearly, I am not the only one– since launching in early January Gryffindior has amassed almost 30,000 followers. In part, because it’s absolutely amazing to see high fashion photoshopped onto Harry Potter characters but also because it makes fashion a lot more accessible. 

Couture and high fashion can sometimes seem otherworldly to average onlookers but by dressing familiar faces in Dior it seems a lot more personable.

[Image description: screenshot of Gryffindior Instagram featuring Bellatrix Lestrange wearing Dior spring/summer 2016 standing next to Ron Weasley.] Instagram.com

Through Gryffindior, I have been able to relieve my favorite childhood and young adult reads with a new eye towards fashion. As a college student with very minimal income, I am far away from wearing Dior on the regular– but a girl can dream! Gryffindior is representative of my life in some ways. I am in between being a kid who loves books about magic and a future adult who (hopefully) can make enough money to wear Dior. 

But right now I’m just a lover of Instagram and all things social media. Gryffindior really brightens up my feed and I love the pairings Bernstein makes.

[Image description: screenshot of Gryffindior Instagram featuring Rose Granger in light pink dress from Dior spring/summer 2017 collection standing with her family at the train.] Instagram.com

A couple of my favorite shots have included Rose Granger–Weasley looking xxx in spring/summer 2017, Professor McGonagall looking fierce in fall/winter 2016 and Bellatrix Lestrange looking ultra trendy in spring/summer 2017. 

As someone who admires the fashion world from afar, it’s great to see these gorgeous Dior pieces reimagined.

[Image description: screenshot of Gryffindior Instagram featuring Padma Patel in red Dior coat from fall/winter 2016 standing next to Harry Potter.] Instagram.com

And there may be more to come. In her interview with Who What Wear, Bernstein imagined Slytherins in “head-to-toe Saint Laurent,” Hufflepuffs in Stella McCartney and Ravenclaws in Alessandro Michele’s Gucci. 

If you’re looking to brighten up your Instagram feed with some cool fashion inspo plus throwbacks to your favorite wizard reads, definitely check out Gryffindior.

Categories
Books Pop Culture

You don’t need to be a Harry Potter fan to be obsessed with how badass J.K. Rowling really is

Even though the Harry Potter series is over, J.K. Rowling is always around us in the form of House quizzes, new Harry Potter universe movies, and just general magic. She is not only famous because of her best-selling book series, but also because of her witty and critical accounts of the world.

[bctt tweet=” J.K. Rowling’s magic is all around you if you’re online.” username=”wearethetempest”]

She has more than 10.9 million followers (that is just on Twitter) making her one of the most celebrated authors on Twitter. Not only does she use this platform to engage with her fans, but she also uses Twitter perfectly to educate the world about the world. Whether it is about the current events or the about cute puppies, death anniversaries of her HP characters or of HP actors, Rowling tweets just about everything.

But more recently she has started to use Twitter to take jabs at Donald Trump, his administration, and his followers.

[bctt tweet=” J.K. Rowling fights tweets with better tweets.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Although she is not the only public figure to take it to Twitter to mock President Trump and his administration, she is definitely one of the very few people to use Harry Potter as a reference to do so.

1. When the media called Donald Trump the new Voldemort

Soon after BBC Newsbeat tweeted a link to their story ‘Why people are calling American businessman Donald Trump Voldemort,’ Rowling joked about Trump and Voldemort.

2.  When Stephen King was added to Trump’s block list

More recently, our president blocked the best-selling author Stephen King on Twitter.

King immediately took it to Twitter to announce his recent achievement. Rowling jumped in soon after to lend a helping hand to the fellow author.

3. When Rowling kept her promise

And she actually did tweet King asking him about his opinion of Trump’s tweet about the Russians.

4. When Rowling helped spread Trump’s lie

Rowling has always been a huge critic of Donald Trump and she doesn’t shy away from pointing it out to her followers. A few days back when NYT published an article outlining lies President Trump has told since he’s taken the oath of office, Rowling made sure to let her followers know.

5. When Rowling educated Trump on leadership

Soon after the attack in London which lead to 7 deaths and 48 injured victims, Donald Trump took it to Twitter to attack the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Rowling made sure to educate Trump on leadership.

6. When she tweeted the German press about Trump and climate change

It’s no secret that President Trump said climate change is a hoax (which he later denied saying). But the German press didn’t let it go. They made sure to let Trump know what earth has to say about it.

7. When covfefe was everywhere

Everyone went crazy when Trump tweeted about the negative press covfefe. And so did Rowling.

8. When Trump tweeted about James Comey and Hillary Clinton, Rowling just couldn’t resist herself

Rowling couldn’t help but wonder if our president talks to himself in the third person when alone.

9. When Rowling was proud of her Potter fans

Rowling tweeted a link to the article titled “A Danger to the World: It’s Time to Get Rid of Donald Trump.” And a Trump follower couldn’t take it.  And so, Rowling tweeted another article and oh, the irony.

10.  When Rowling called Trump a tiny, tiny, tiny little man

Rowling criticized Trump for pushing Prime Minister Milo Dukanovic of Montenegro as shown in this viral GIF.

Rowling also engages with the trolls too. Like when one time someone threatened to burn all her books and movies. Her response was brilliant.

Or like the time when someone actually did burn the books after being a fan for 17 years.

If you don’t already follow J.K. Rowling on Twitter, go do it now. You’re missing out.

Categories
Movies Pop Culture

“Fantastic Beasts” is a perfect example of why Hollywood needs to take diversity seriously

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has been near and dear to my heart for a very long time. As a child and into burgeoning adulthood, I loved seeing a book I read realized on a big screen, and “Harry Potter” was one of the most wondrous and magical. J. K. Rowling managed to get children, who over the years had been losing interest in reading, to not only read a book over 200 pages but then read 6 more books after that. The wizarding world taught us acceptance and the upside of being an outsider.

While Harry Potter may not have been the book that stoked my reading fire, it was definitely something that engaged me. I’d always been an avid reader but those books fed my soul. A new book is like a whole new world, and it does go beyond the page. Rowling wrote a story so vivid and imaginative that, as readers, we were able to run with it. For me, it was something to fill my days. It gave my young mind more material to bend and shape, to absorb into my own story. For me, every story that grabs me in such a way adds to who I am.

While the Harry Potter experience has meant so much to me, as I got older one thing started to creep into my head. Rowling likes the idea of writing about ‘outsiders.’ There’s Harry, the chosen one, unaware of his power, Newt Scamanader, an oddball magizooligist, Hermione, hands-down the smartest, but muggle-born and often reminded of it and Ron who comes from a kooky and financially-strapped family. However, her main characters i.e. Harry and Newt (so far) are white hetero-normative men. And in general the cast is white.

In “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” there has been some ‘color-correcting’ (pun 100% intended). The Head of MACUSA is Seraphina Picquery, a black woman played by the elegant Carmen Ejogo and the scene with the magical heads of all the countries displayed a diverse cast of characters. And yet it still feels like something isn’t fully connecting.

The crux of Harry Potter is prejudice based on one’s inherent circumstances, being a muggle or wizard, and this easily translates to so many problems that the world is facing and has been facing since the dawn of humanity.

The fact is, we are living in a world strife with hate derived from irrational fear. A fear of our inherent differences creating a divide, a fear of the other, whoever that may be. In the wizarding world, these differences manifest as being a magical being or a muggle. And like our reality, these perceived differences can sometimes lead to violence. Voldemort and Grindlewald preach a manifesto of ‘mass slaughter for the greater good.’ They hurt anyone who gets in their way. Today, and throughout history, people are killed because a group of someones decided they were lesser.

Movies dealing with the oppressed or societal outsiders often cast the outsiders in a shadow. Films dealing with other cultures (“The Wall”), the empowerment of black women (“The Help”), the white nationalists movement (“Imperium”), can sometimes detract from the experiences of the people facing discrimination. Even those who would normally identify with those outside characters may find it harder to connect with the movie because they’re made to jump through hoops.

It’s just like how women are objectified onscreen. Women see other women being portrayed a certain way and not really question it, instead taking the objectified portrayal and absorb it as their own. At least now there is an acknowledgement of the problem, but little has been done to find a solution. Rowling has mentioned further exploring Dumbledore’s homosexuality and Zoë Kravitz has been casted as Leda Lestrange, but these occurrences don’t fully address the overall problem. In terms of “Fantastic Beasts,” there is still time for a shift. With four more films to go, there is room for improvement.

Categories
Books Pop Culture

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is anything but magical

I still remember when the last Harry Potter book came out. My sisters and I went to the nearby Walmart (because our town didn’t have a bookstore) to buy 4 copies at midnight. I stayed up for the next 9 hours reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, grasping onto every word. My heart broke at every major death (RIP DOBBY & HEWDIG & FRED) and I felt a sad satisfaction as I finished the final pages of the best book series ever written in the world.

Harry Potter means to me, as it does to many of us, so much more than 7 great books. I met some of my best friends in a Harry Potter chatroom (that we named SPEW) and some of my best memories relate to the series in some way. So when JK Rowling decided to release Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, parts 1 & 2 on Harry’s 36th birthday … I was VERY EXCITED.

I picked up the books on July 31st around 3pm.

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BOOKS NOW IN POSSESSION.

I was unreasonably excited and felt like a pre-teen/teenager again. It’s been 9 years since a new HP book came out. IT FELT SO GOOD. Also Snapchat had a Harry filter and it made everything so much better.

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SNAPCHAT MADE ME INTO HARRY. SCAR, WAND, AND GRYFFINDOR SCARF (but really I’m a Ravenclaw)

I immediately started reading. The difference between a novel and a play was quickly apparent. The pacing was weird and (obviously) the dialogue was central to the story. But… I wasn’t drawn in or compelled. I was becoming more and more disappointed as I read on.

Without giving too much away, the play begins 19 years post-Battle of Hogwarts as Harry and Ginny’s son Albus Severus Potter (come on) boards the Hogwarts Express for his first year. Albus is scared of being sorted in Slytherin. None of this is news — this is the shitty epilogue we were all forced to read at the end of book 7.

And since most of us are competent humans, it’s 100000% predictable that, hey, Albus gets sorted into Slytherin.

And then the play fast-forwards through his first 3 years and his solidified BFFness with Scorpius Malfoy (seriously?) and his growing isolation from his hot-shot celebrity father. All that happens in like 4 pages.

And then Albus and Scorpius have a bad idea to save Cedric from dying and go back in time to screw some shit up so Harry has to find them and save them/the world because that’s what The Boy Who Lived does. Except he’s doing it for his son because #fatherhood.

Oh also at some point Harry tells Albus he wishes he wasn’t his son or something because apparently men are incapable of expressing feelings so they just say things that are clearly not okay to say to your children.

OH THERE’S ALSO THIS AWESOME SCENE THAT INVOLVES THE “ANYTHING OFF THE TROLLEY, DEARS?” WITCH GOING H.A.M. BECAUSE ALBUS AND SCORPIUS ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE FROM THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS.

About 250 pages into the book, I actually left to go get dinner. I remember not sleeping or eating for hours during HP 5, 6, and 7. So me leaving before finishing should tell you a lot. Anyway, when I came back, my cat had taken my seat.

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She was even less amused than I was.

From this page onward, the play sort of picked up. It was slightly more amusing. Particularly because of Draco and Ron, who were both brilliant and true-to-themselves which I very much appreciated. Also Ron has the BEST quote of the play. I won’t post it here, because out of context it makes no sense. But just know it happened and that it’s lovely and that you should read the play for that purpose alone.

[bctt tweet=”Just read it, but certainly consider yourself warned.” username=”wearethetempest”]

When I finished the Cursed Child, I didn’t really feel much different. I hadn’t been moved by the text like I had with the original series. I was, very plainly, disappointed. It didn’t have the original humor, creativity, and story-telling. And, honestly, I feel like I’m betraying my childhood by admitting the script didn’t have that Harry Potter magic we all adore.

I imagine the pacing and plot may suit a play much more than a sit-down reading. J.K. Rowling herself insists that this story needed to be told as a play. Unfortunately it’s not showing in America anytime soon, so I won’t be able to confirm/deny that. So I can’t help but feel let down and wanting more.

This perfectly expresses my current feelings.
This perfectly expresses my current feelings: angsty, OOTP Harry.
Malfoy’s initial face represents my initial excitement. Then I was “punched” with reality.

Overall, the play is maybe a commentary on parenting or growing up or how weird teenagers are or what not to name your children. And, because of my undying love for the original series – I recommend this read to any Harry Potter fan. It’s a bit nostalgic and all Ron-Hermione shippers will appreciate the timelessness of their love (because it is the only true love other than Buffy+Angel). And it’s really quite fun. Don’t expect any deep meaning or intention from JKR – reread the series if you’re looking for a compelling and powerful story. Just read the Cursed Child as it is, and certainly consider yourself warned.

Categories
Love Life Stories

Here’s why I stopped making excuses for myself

I’m on a train from London to Edinburgh, and I feel very J.K. Rowling-esque as I write these words. I may have read somewhere that she wrote the entirety of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on a train to Edinburgh, but I’ve never been good with facts, so don’t take my word on it.

Blasting in my ears is the pop, upbeat sounds of Noah & The Whale, and I’m grinning at all the frightened passengers who pass me by. I think the sun still peaking up from the ground could be the reason everyone seems a little disturbed.

I should understand, because flash back to this time last year, I am sitting in my college dorm in Providence, under my sheets at 5 PM, figuring out why I should ever get up. I had surpassed the stage of crying and wailing to anyone who would listen and had reached a level of Sad that created a hollow concave within me. But still, I kept repeating the mantra in my head: this sadness will go away if you just try hard enough.

When I was in high school in Saudi Arabia, I thought the sadness was brought upon by the city, the people, the quasi-oppressive lifestyle. I kept a mental note of the days until college, until I could go abroad, until the sadness would melt with the change of scenery. But then I was a freshman, and I found the sadness now was even worse than homesickness.

So I kept making more and more excuses. I’m sad because I haven’t seen my friends and family in a long time. I’m sad because I am not excelling like I thought I would. I’m sad because the boy I liked didn’t like me back. I’m sad because it is too cold outside. I kept telling myself that it would fade once one or two circumstances changed. But it wasn’t until I was in a beach in Mexico that I realized I had run out of excuses.

[bctt tweet=”It wasn’t until I was in a beach in Mexico that I realized I had run out of excuses.”]

Despite the yellow-orange sunset and the feeling of sand pressed against my hands and friends all around me, I was sad. I was so upset that I had to stay in the hotel the next day while the rest of the group went on with their day. And just as I was on my way to muffling another excuse into my pillow, I realized I had no excuses. There was nothing concretely wrong ‒ I was just sad, and I realized that my sadness has always been an uninvited rock accompanying me whenever and wherever I am.

So instead of trying to speak for my sadness, I let my sadness tell me what it needed. And it needed help. For the first time in my life, I went out and looked for help. Once I came to terms with understanding my sadness as depression, I learned how to treat myself a lot more kindly.

The first thing I knew I needed was a break from the place I had been in, despite knowing my campus wasn’t the root of my sadness. It might sound contradictory to say that at the same time I had learned that you cannot run away from something inside you, I “ran away” to another city, but I wanted to test myself against elements I knew I would usually hide from. When I first arrived to college, I let all the new factors of my life pull me down instead of embracing them to grow and change. I wanted a chance to put myself in an environment that would challenge me while taking a break from the monotony that I had developed in college. If I were learning to honestly listen to my mind, I wanted to learn it in a place that would help me discover things I never knew about myself.

In a new city, I could let all the fears of not being liked enough, missing my family, not feeling strong enough to pull through lead me to a fight where I win the battle. I can learn to acknowledge the difference between anxiety over a new place and sadness that comes when it comes. I can learn to live a fulfilling life with my sadness.

And that is why I am here in Edinburgh, running around trying to find trains and buses as I smile and nod at all the Scottish accents I can’t fully understand. I’m learning how to reinvent myself with my depression, not in spite of my depression. I’m learning to manage it, and I hope anyone else who has felt the rock of sadness for too long takes note: you did not create the rock, and it is not your fault that the rock is there. Once I accepted this, accepting myself became a lot easier.

Categories
Books Pop Culture

If you’re a fan of ‘Harry Potter,’ JK Rowling just made your day

Slowly but surely, Harry Potter fans are learning more about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is a new Harry Potter spin-off movie set to release in November 2016.  If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you know that the title of the movie stems from the textbook that all first-year students use at Hogwarts.  Fantastic Beasts takes place in the same world as Harry Potter but is set 70 years before the story of Harry, Ron, and Hermione begins.

Last week we learned that the wonderfully talented Eddie Redmayne will play Scamander in the film. Additionally, David Yates, who directed and produced the last four Harry Potter films, will be directing.

A few days ago, author J.K. Rowling tweeted about a few details about the film that had Harry Potter fans buzzing with joy. Prior to the Twitter conversation,  we only really knew that the school of witchcraft and wizardry  will be set in America. Here are some things we learned from J.K. Rowling during her Twitter chat with fans:

We don’t know the name of the American Hogwarts yet but J.K. Rowling’s Tweet implies that its name has an “immigrant” origin.

 

The American “Hogwarts” is not set in New York

 

The school is not the “The Salem Witches’ Institute” mentioned in The Goblet of Fire

 

The school has elements of “indigenous magic” that were important for its foundation

 

We all went to Hogwarts!

 

Although J.K. Rowling’s Twitter chat taught us a bit about Fantastic Beasts, we still don’t know much. We are told towards the end of the chat that the information will be revealed in “due course.”

 

  

Here’s how I feel about the “due course” response:

   9880645

Categories
Books Pop Culture

Five characters I’d kill off in a heartbeat

Seriously, these characters are the absolute worst and if the author decided to kill them off, the world really would be a better place. Okay, so maybe I’m slightly exaggerating, but sometimes characters just make the silliest choices and are entirely self-destructive.

 

1. Bella from the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

Yup, no surprise here. Bella makes some of the worst choices in YA heroine history. The second book, New Moon, is pretty much Bella just moping around and being broken-hearted. Seriously, about a third of the book is just Bella writing in her diary, complaining about how she cannot live without Edward. Bella is incredibly boring, has zero self-preservation skills — and, for some reason, really likes to attempt suicide so that Edward/Jacob can save her. This picture pretty much perfectly summarizes how I feel about Bella:

 

2. Lydia from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is skilled at creating some truly terribly characters. Lydia Bennet is definitely on my list of Jane Austen characters I wouldn’t mind being run over by a carriage or something. Lydia is careless and has no sense of what her actions can do to her family. Does she flirt with all of the officers? Yup. Elope with Mr. Wickham? Yup. Learn from the consequences of her actions? Nope. Lydia doesn’t see how shameful the things she does are — and, as Jane writes after Lydia returns from her elopement, “Lydia was Lydia still; untamed, unabashed, wild, noisy, and fearless.”

Flynn Rider in "Tangled"

3. Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Oh Dolores Umbridge, why couldn’t you be chased out of Hogwarts sooner? Umbridge makes life a living hell for both Hogwarts students and staff. She makes terrible decisions, is incredibly rude, and is just straight-up annoying. I really hope she rots in Azkaban forever.

Imelda Staunton in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1

 

4. Brit Pheiffer from Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick 

Stockholm syndrome is never attractive. Brit makes the dumbest choices ever. She gets lost in the mountains with her friend, they find a cabin with two hot/shady guys in it, and then decide to flirt with them. Just to give you an idea of how foolish and naive Brit is, here’s a quote she actually utters:

“I tapped my cup to his, grateful to have found Shaun, because for a minute there, I’d thought I was going to have to save myself. Instead, I’d wandered into the protective care of a sexy older man.”

Britt, please do not turn into Bella Swan and murder feminism in one sentence! And of course, because Brit is an idiot, she falls in love with her kidnapper (the “sexy older man”). After the Stockholm syndrome bit, Britt most definitely went on my “dumb characters who shouldn’t exist” list.

 

"I can't fix stupid" meme

 

5. Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

One of my favorite moments in my high-school English class was when my class went on a rant about how awful Daisy is — she’s an incredibly selfish, spoiled, and greedy person who really should have died in that car crash. (Too far?) Nick Carraway puts it best when he says:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

 

Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby