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   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Monday, October 22, 2007


Out of the Closet at Hogwarts

Bravo, J.K. Rowling.

11 Comments:

Blogger Kate Marie said...

Meh. Kudos to Dumbledore and all, but at the risk of being considered a horrible cynic, this reminds me of the scene in the movie In N' Out where Matt Dillon, playing an actor who is accepting an Oscar, thanks his old high school English teacher (played by Kevin Kline) for his inspiration, and then adds, after a
couple of perfectly timed beats, and with an hilariously self-congratulatory look on his face ". . . and he's gay!"

Random thoughts:

1) Why didn't Rowling "out" him in the book itself? Whatever one thought of it, it would at least have been gutsy.

2) She's employing the intentional fallacy here, isn't she?

3) If I were to put on my textual critic hat, I could make a good case that Rowling uses Dumbledore's homosexuality as a trope of evil, dangerous deviance, etc. Look at the difference between Snape and Dumbledore, for instance. Snape's heterosexually-oriented (or "heteronormative," if you will) love for Lily Potter proves redemptive, while Dumbledore's youthful infatuation with Grindelwald is a source of shame and secrecy and a "site" of his flirtation with evil. He can only expiate his transgression by repudiating and *defeating* the object of his love and living a chaste life thereafter. (And I'm not offering this reading because I really believe in it, but because I don't think Rowling's announcement means she should be awarded a "get out of textual criticism free" card.)

4) Other famous gay characters:

Ishmael (Bravo, Herman Melville)

Huck and Jim (Bravo, Mark Twain)

Richard II (Bravo, Shakespeare)

Nick Carraway (Bravo, F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Robinson Crusoe (Bravo, Daniel Defoe)

October 23, 2007 6:18 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Kate Marie,

1)I don't know.

2)Yes, she is.

3)No one gets a free pass from textual criticism....NO ONE (insert evil laugh here). After what you text crit nihilists did to the Bible it would be laughable to think you'd leave poor J.K. alone.

4)Bravo, everybody.

5)In the media circus that passes for culture these days anyone who has worked as hard as J.K. Rowling to give so much pleasure to so many people (myself included) is, in my opinion, entitled to at least one flamboyant political gesture. I give her credit for pulling off one that I admire for both its style and content.

October 23, 2007 10:56 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

Dear Madman,

Anyone is entitled to a flamboyant political gesture. I just can't worked up about this particular gesture, because it seems so weasely to me. A less weasely gesture would either a) have occurred within the book itself, or b) occurred completely outside the book. As it is, Rowling's gesture inhabits this strange nether region -- it's "of" the book, but not "in" the book, so that within the world of the novels themselves, Dumbledore remains determinedly "in the closet." But it's even trickier than that, because it's precisely Rowling's flamboyant gesture that puts him there and keeps him there.

That's why -- cynic that I am -- the gesture seems rather hollow to me.

That said, I read somewhere that one of the news stories quotes Rowling as saying, "I've always thought of Dumbledore as gay," not "Dumbledore is gay." That does seem slightly different to me, since Rowling is as entitled as anyone else to do the nihilist lit crit number on her own work.

October 23, 2007 11:38 AM  
Blogger Kate Marie said...

P.S. Just found this. Maybe he stole it from me. :)

http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1674550,00.html

October 23, 2007 11:40 AM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Dear Kate Marie,

Rowling's gesture appealed to me because it turned the usual polarities of dramatic irony on their head- I am amused by the idea that at least one of the characters in the Potterverse "knew" something that millions of readers did not. I can see your and Cloud's perspective- Dumbledore is far from a gay role model, but expecting him to be is, as Cloud admits, a bit much. Maybe Dumbledore's "de-sexed" persona is an expression of Rowling's latent prejudices (or moral cowardice), maybe it is a sign that things are slightly worse for gay men in the Potterverse than they are out here in the "real" world, maybe both. Whatever the case may be, Rowling's "writing" a gay character into the most wildly popular and commercially successful children's series ever conceived is a real milestone, even if it is a bit weasely (or Weasley, as the case may be).

October 23, 2007 8:33 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

PS- It's possible that Dumbledore was not as closeted as we would believe. In Book One we learn that his chocolate frog card openly declares that he is "particularly famous for...his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel." Maybe it went without saying in the Potterverse that Dumbledore and Flamel were lovers, and it is our own prejudices, not Rowling's, that prevented everyone from understanding that Dumbledore was gay.

Again, it is a bit much to look for role models in such a phantasmagoric work of fiction, but if Flamel and Dumbledore were lovers, the signs of their devotion are rather touching. Dumbledore goes to extreme lengths to protect the philosopher's stone despite the risks of it falling into Voldemort's hands, and both of them ultimately consent to its destruction once it becomes clear that the greater good is at stake. No greater love has a man than this...

October 24, 2007 4:35 AM  
Blogger stewdog said...

This just in. . Dummledore and Teletubby Tinky Winky have purchased a condo in West Hollywood. Pat Robertson plans to protest.

October 24, 2007 10:12 AM  
Anonymous Templeton Peck said...

I have read all the books also....and my perspective is much less astute than all of you here I guess.... I just thought she was trying to sell more books now that the sales have started to fall off some.... and if you already own it?....you'll most likely go back and read it again. And right when the DVD of the last film is set to go on sale too. But what do I know..

October 24, 2007 12:39 PM  
Blogger stewdog said...

Hm. . PT Barnum? "You gotta have a gimmick"? TP, you're just so bitter and cynical!

October 24, 2007 2:39 PM  
Blogger Madman of Chu said...

Hmmm, TP. Rowling is already richer than the Queen- does she have some kind of expensive habit (REALLY expensive, like snorting pulverized blowfish mixed with platinum shavings and diamond dust) you think she is trying to support? Besides, this kind of publicity could just as easily lead to a drop in revenues as the reverse. For me the more plausible cynical read is that she waited to make these "revelations" until her profits were safely garnered.

October 25, 2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Templeton Peck said...

ahhh....but my dear Madman..you assume here that SHE is the only one making money on the books and it's offspring...let us not forget the publisher, Movie Studio, the companies that make all the knock off toys and such, the distributor...etc...They can NEVER make enough money... and as to the subject?..may I just use an old but ture adage?
ANY publicity is Good publicity...( see Britney Spears) :)

October 25, 2007 3:34 PM  

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