Death of the Author

by Dylan Allswang

I’ve always really loved Harry Potter. The books absolutely defined my childhood, and I often return to them when looking for something to reread. This is why I am so disturbed by J.K. Rowling’s recent transphobic comments. I really looked up to her as a child, and it hurts to see her publicly rebuke a marginalized community. This has made me question the other hidden biases in her work. Were anti-Semetic stereotypes at play when she wrote about an underclass of hook-nosed goblins who control the economy? 

After looking at the series in this light, I see other media differently as well. Morrissey, though I love his music, has a lot of anger toward women. His misogynistic lyrics reflect this, and you can’t separate his music from his opinions. HP Lovecraft wrote racial caricatures into his work because of his fervent opposition to miscegenation. 

As for J.K. Rowling, many readers have decided to ignore her, and read the books as isolated pieces of media. I don’t know the correct answer. I oppose J.K. Rowling’s opinions, but that can’t stop me from enjoying her books. They made a great impact on my childhood, and the childhoods of millions of others. I won’t stop reading Lovecraft or listening to Morrissey, but I think it’s important to consider the subtext of this media.

Learning about the authors and the biases they bring to their work actually makes me appreciate their art more — not less. It is impossible to completely separate art from the artist, but the best thing we can do is think critically about the negative aspects of media while still appreciating its positive aspects.