I don’t know if a billionaire who helped shape literature for a generation can successfully be canceled, but the authoritarians sure are trying. JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels and creator of one of the biggest IPs and fandoms in at least the last thirty years, has been under fire from a lot fewer people than the media would like you to think over comments about trans people and women – specifically, the rights of the latter being infringed upon by the former. Now, one Canadian bookbinder is taking a stand against unacceptable opinions.
Laur Flom, who also works as a bartender, buys used copies of the Harry Potter books, removes the covers, the title pages, the copyright pages, and anywhere else Rowling’s name appears, then makes custom covers and resells them for an absurd amount of money: $170 per book, or $1200 for all seven. A portion of the proceeds Flom receives for desecrating art goes to trans charities. (That’s giving it to her!)
Flom, who is a trans person and knows all too well the pain of looking at the name of someone who disagrees with you, explains the motivation behind the “project”:
“The project is spurred by her transphobia … I was [a fan]. Growing up when I did, it was a given that you would read ‘Harry Potter.’ It raised questions about the ethics of consuming her work… the purpose of this project is to create a safe space for fans to find comfort in the books and critically engage with J.K. Rowling’s work.”
The Daily Mail has this quote from Flom:
“This project isn’t about the ‘death of the author’, that’s impossible.”
Sure, that’s why your website advertises “de-Rowlinged” versions of the books. If you’re interested, this is a video of the vandal going about his work:
“Because fuck her.”
Fuck you right back, you miserable little fascist. I can’t begin to tell you how angry this makes me. Another person’s art is not your “safe space.” It’s something someone else created, and when you try to remove their name from it, you are stealing, whether you’re legally allowed to do it or not. (I’m not sure about the legality of selling these “versions” of the books; used books are resold all the time, but I’ve never seen one that removed all traces of the author.) Each instance of this makes it easier for the next guy to do more. How long till publishers try to remove her name from the books? I doubt they’d be successful, but all it takes is one activist judge to make it harder to defend, and then another, and another after that. Then, what happens? Will film directors be subject to the same treatment? If you think woke Hollywood would cling to artistic principle over a director who stepped out of line, you haven’t been paying attention.
There’s also a startling amount of hypocrisy involved. Flom wants to eliminate JK Rowling from her creation – to what little extent he/she/they/whatever can – but has no problem using her work to make money. As Mr. H correctly pointed out in a recent video, people have been doing that to HP Lovecraft for a long time; they decry his racism, they say how horrible he was, but they love cashing in on the mythos he created, one which influenced horror for over a century. But that’s the way of these things; principles stop right at the point where there are profits to be made, hence all those “First Gay Disney” moments that are edited out for China. And that’s not even mentioning the entitlement in believing you should be able to have the books you want to read divorced from the woman who wrote them. Should JK Rowling pay your electric bill too?
One of the fifty or so reasons Blabs hates me (kidding) is that I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I don’t dislike it or anything; it’s just not my thing. But what JK Rowling did with these books and the media that followed is astonishing, and not just for their monetary success or cultural impact. Watching some of the videos from the recent Geeks + Gamers Orlando event, I saw the incredible detail she put into the universe she created based on the Universal Studios exhibits. The wizards even have their own candy, and there are multiple varieties! That’s worldbuilding on an immense scale. (The irony is that it’s the tiny details like candy that make a world more epic.) JK Rowling is not just a name under the title; she’s in every syllable of those books, every frame of the movies, every fiber of the dolls, because nothing those who play in her world do could exist without her. Trying to remove a creator’s name from something that intricate is pure evil, no matter how badly she hurt your feelings.
Of course, that’s beside the point as well. It doesn’t matter if JK Rowling wrote an epic saga that defined decades of childhoods or a coloring book; she wrote it, and you have no right to attempt to take it away from her. If you’re that morally opposed to her comments, don’t buy the books or watch the movies or play the video games or play with the toys. But, of course, that’s too much to ask; the activists want to have their cake and eat it too, so they’ve found a workaround that’s convenient for them. It’s easy to take a stand when you get to sit at the same time, isn’t it?