Monday, October 29, 2007

Dumbledore Outed - So What?

This month, Newsweek reported that, in front of a "full house of hardcore Potter fans," at Carnegie Hall, J.K. Rowling "outed" her character, Dumbledore. She told them that, in her mind, "Dumbledore had an unrequited love affair with Gellert Grindelwald."

I can't say how this news played out in other communities, but in at least some parts of the Orthodox community, it was fairly predictable. Disgust and anger. Statements about how no one should read Harry Potter books anymore, much less let their children read them.

And me? I say, SO WHAT?!

Now, I don't really mean "so what if he's gay." I actually do think that could be problematic, particularly for kids. It helps make homosexuality acceptable, and even somewhat normal - if you can call Dumbledore normal. It's clearly not what we believe in. The Torah is unequivocal in its condemnation of homesexuality, calling it a To'eva - an abomination. No, I mean, "so what if she says he's gay." She's allowed, and I'm allowed not to agree.

See, once the author releases the book into the public, it sort of takes on its own life, and the author loses some of the control of those characters. Much like the works of poets and other artists, the same work can mean different things to different people, and none of them necessarily mean exactly what the work-creator intended.

Now, if she had specifically written that into the books, that would have been different. But, wisely, she decided not to step into that fight directly - it would have hurt book sales. She wrote it with what could be construed as allusions to it, but not necessarily so. And I'm entitled to interpret those allusions as I please. Well, I choose to disagree with her as to the sexual predilections of her fabulous but flawed Headmaster.

But stop my kids from reading those wonderful books?! Books that have almost single-handedly brought Reading back to the forefront among this country's children? Books that have made reading "cool" again, and that are so skillfully written that both adults and children can enjoy them equally? Now that would be a shanda!

2 comments:

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

actually, the Torah says that male homosexual intercourse is a תועבה. it says nothing about the state-of-being of being attracted to your own gender.

If Dumbeldore's "love affair" with Grindelwald was unrequited, it was obviously never acted upon, and therefore whatever his orientation, Dumbeldore violated no halakhic prohibitions.

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