Sunday, September 27, 2020

Fans Didn’t Enable Rowling; Success, Ego, and Power Did That.

I watched part of a YouTube video last night in which a longtime Potter fan basically laid out a thesis that fans have progressively enabled Rowling to become a bigot. This is an interest thesis, with some very small, partial truth to it; but it’s naïve—fannishly so, imagining a closer relationship and more influence on the author than fans actually have.
        I would argue that money, fame, publishing, Hollywood, licensing, more money—in whatever order—has been far more influential on Rowling and her insecure, insatiable ego than her relationship with supplicant fans. She wants and expects love, that much is obvious; but it has long since become much more a Queen-and-lowly-subject relationship more than the familial bond this YouTuber imagines.
        The fact is, Rowling has become a tyrant who believes she owes nothing to anyone, and this attitude has been a long time in coming. She’s progressively come to see adulation as something owed to her, not something earned. This has been affirmed repeatedly with success after success, good luck after good luck, break after miraculously fortunate break. She’s simply never had to suffer a serious setback once—something completely unheard of for even the most pristine Cinderella story—with the small exception of Richard Harris mischievously dying on her.
        A million things could have gone wrong with Harry Potter—from The Philosopher’s Stone sinking the book in the States, to a proposed Americanization of the movies, to the kid actors all growing up to be hideous and unable to act. The books could have gone off the rails by killing off the wrong character at the wrong moment; this or that could have happened. But nothing went wrong, and everything went right, and Potter became the most miraculous artistic achievement imaginable. It arrived at successful completion more than a decade ago, and no one can ever take anything away from that—no one ever will—not even an emotionally insecure, increasingly feeble, fallible, mortal author.
        Now, things are going off the rails—as if it’s all been piling up in a backroom somewhere, or in a hidden Hogwarts lavatory, and the backed-up sewage is spilling all over the place. Is it any wonder that at least a few fans believe the torrent smells like roses?

No, she created herself, kids—the monster was already within

         I knew early adopters of Harry Potter*, and I can attest, as I’ve attested since December 2019, that Rowling would have never gotten off the ground in the late 1990s if this shit had come out then. Harry Potter would have been a dead turd floating in the water, to continue the analogy. Instead, it’s already part of the fabric of our culture, and the author—completely irrelevant at this point, is completely free to go insane, with little harm or punishment. Like a Greek tragedy, she’s already got her chorus who will follow her until the final act. King Lear, anyone?
        The psychology of fans is interesting—feelings of guilt for enabling Rowling are perhaps understandable on some level, but truly horrific, solipsistic, and completely mental on another. You’re fans; you’ve never mattered, certainly not to your beloved Jo. Imagining you ever did is part of the illusion of Harry Potter you have to grow up and get over now.

* Bookstore employees were instrumental in turning what would have remained a kid’s ghetto cult fetish into an all-ages literary phenomenon.

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Read my roman-feuilleton prose experiment, The Ms. Megaton Man Maxi-Series! New chapter every Friday!

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