Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Leaky Cauldron

By Keith Fisher

As I mentioned before, I have avoided reading Harry Potter. I’ve seen portions, but I’ve never seen the movies. No particular reason, I just haven’t been much of a fantasy fan. Recently, I acquired the whole series except The Deathly Hallows. Since I was between novels anyway, I decided to read HP for a change of pace.

In the story, there’s a place called The Leaky Cauldron. The image that name presents is the reason this blog has the title it does. Think of it—a vessel that cannot hold any liquid. Put a fire under it and the fluid will extinguish the flames.

I was just finishing the second book in the series when I heard the news. Apparently, the author announced that Dumbledore is gay. (See the article.)

When an author writes a story, there are many facts created about characters that never make it into a novel. The reasons are varied but basically, too much exposition can bog a story down. The reader gets lost in a sea of non-relevant facts and they lose the story.

In the case of HP, the author created a character that teenagers love, the image of that character is set in our minds, and the book series is immensely successful. So why announce this now? Did Rowling let it slip accidentally? Was it an effort to boost her popularity? Nothing more than a publicity stunt? Could it be she’s succumbing to the clouded judgement of the moviemakers that want to include something more in the next movie?

Whatever the reasons for it, HP will never be the same. Setting aside the influence it could have on teenage readers, I can’t read it without thinking about the implications. It might have been different if the author had included that information in the book originally, but now I look at the character differently—I’ve been tainted.

I hope the character will survive. I want the kindly, caring, old man, to live on. As one of the internet news articles said: Put Dumbledore back in the closet.

To all aspiring authors may I suggest, if it wasn’t important enough to include in the book, then, leave it in your heads—especially if the information is as controversial as the information above. Don’t put out the fire under your cauldron by poking holes in it.


Tristi Pinkston said...

I could not agree more, Keith. I think it was a cheap publicity stunt (like she needed any more publicity?) and she should have just left it alone.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

I think it was a sad attempt at a publicity stunt that was really hitting low. I was so disappointed in J.K. Rowling, but I still love the books and the Dumbledore character. She can say what she wants now, but nowhere in any of the books does it mention he's gay, so I'm sticking my head in the sand and saying the FICTIONAL character Dumbledore is not gay!

And Keith, keep reading.

Liz Busby said...

Actually, it wasn't a publicity stunt. The only reason the information came out was because a fan explicitly asked. Here's the transcript from an open Q&A session at Carnegie Hall. (Book seven spoilers follow)

The question was: Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?

JKR: My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that's how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!" (Transcript)