Bahr: How J.K. Rowling stays relevant


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

J.K. Rowling is the creative mind behind the “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts” franchise. 

Connor Bahr

J.K. Rowling has a habit of changing, or adding to, the canon of her Harry Potter universe periodically. Her most recent, and most explosive, addition to the canon was her confirmation that Dumbledore and Grindelwald had, “an intense sexual relationship.”. I’d like to add that I am not necessarily opposed to a writer adding to the canon of their universe after the universe has been written. What comes into question for me is the reasons for their doing so.

I believe J.K. Rowling is simply changing the canon of her universe to stay relevant, even going against her own writing to do so. For example, at one point, she claimed that Hermione wasn’t necessarily white. This goes against two parts of her own writing; one saying that “Hermione’s white face was sticking out”, and the other describing Hermione as getting a tan. Both of these things seem to point to J.K. Rowling’s own visualization of Hermione as white. Why, you might ask, would she seem to change her mind throughout the years?

For one, I think it is to discount those who claim her to not have included much diversity in the Harry Potter universe. For another, she seems to be trying to “fit in” to a celebrity mainstream culture. It is often unheard of for a celebrity to lean to the right, and those in intense spotlight must be very careful of what they say and what they do to avoid appearing racist or misogynistic. She may have taken this ideology to heart throughout the years. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but changing or adding on to her own canon to virtue signal these ideologies is the easy way out. If she truly wanted to champion these views, she could have written books with these ideologies present. Two other examples of J.K. Rowling’s writings, The Cormoran Strike series and The Casual Vacancy, both feature white, male main characters. All of these books were written after Harry Potter.

Another reason I believe she does this is to stay in the public eye. Whether for money, attention or advertising, she seems to periodically drop new information so that she stays in headlines and in the public view. She reminds me of someone who peaked in high school, constantly wearing her letterman jacket and bringing up the “good old days”.

Personally, I don’t think she does it for money because her other books are written under a male pseudonym, but I think she likes being praised by her peers and strangers on the internet.

Rowling is currently working on a new series extension of the Harry Potter universe, which will feature a bisexual Harry. She claims she always wrote Harry as bisexual, despite not a single instance in the books giving evidence to that fact. Again, while I do not see a problem with a bisexual Harry, I do have a problem with the retroactive changing of the canon simply to stay relevant. It’s shallow and desperate.