Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Expelling J.K Rowling from Hogwarts: Is it possible?

Lockdown provided us with many dramas and arguments on social media, but one that stood out was JK Rowling and her controversial, transphobic tweets. The allegations against Rowling came about after she criticised an article for using the term “people who menstruate” when describing how the world can be more equal post-COVID-19. Her views and actions drove many to label her as a ‘TERF’ (trans exclusionary radical feminist). With this in mind, is it possible to enjoy her work whilst knowing her beliefs? 

Across all creative outlets, actors, authors, artists, singers and performers are ‘called out’ due to things they have said and done. This begs the question of how much of their work we should appreciate and celebrate knowing these facts. Some might argue that names like JK Rowling should still be respected due to their impact on culture and history. The Harry Potter series defined many of our childhoods and still defines the lives of children today. Therefore, it should act as a representation of this time period in children’s literature and should be remembered by future generations. It should be a part of history that cannot be erased due to its huge cultural impact.

This is also seen with YouTube content creator Shane Dawson and the recent allegations made about him. His videos defined the early stages of YouTube and his docuseries challenged perspectives on both the subject and the actual documentary format itself. However, after the resurfacing of offensive content, he has had one the biggest downward spirals in YouTube career, despite his impact on the platform.

On the other hand, if we still support the work of the artist then we are still, in turn, supporting the artist, which gives them a greater platform to continue voicing their problematic views and get away with their inexcusable actions. The success of the work will further develop the career of the creator and gives them more publicity and a larger space to work in. Further to artists and creators, this also goes for large companies and corporations, with American fast food chain Chick-fil-a donating money to anti-LGBTQIA+ causes and dairy alternative company Oatly having a donor that supports and gives money to Trump. By supporting that company, you are also directly supporting these causes. Before we keep buying our favourite products, we must remember their core values and how they are represented. In 2020, we must take the time to educate ourselves on who is supplying us with these products before it gets out of hand. We are privileged to have the choice of products and it is important to use that privilege wisely.

Inappropriate behaviour is unacceptable, and we should always look back to who is creating the art before we celebrate it. We can uplift positive voices and give space to those that may not already have the ability to use their voice, if we celebrate those that deserve celebration. 

Finn Murphy