It seems that taking gratuitous swipes at J.K. Rowling has become something of a competition for liberal broadsheets on both sides of the pond. First, the New York Times took a potshot at the Harry Potter creator for its new marketing campaign trumpeting ‘independent journalism.’ And now the Guardian – keen to prove that, it too, is achingly right on – has published a piece which implies that Rowling’s views on same-sex spaces are somehow more controversial than domestic abuse. Grim.
The latest jibe at Britain’s greatest living writer came in a piece detailing the controversies around the production of the Fantastic Beasts film. Film critic Ryan Gilbey noted that ‘one of its stars, Johnny Depp’ left after losing a libel case which referred to him as a ‘wife-beater’ following accusations of domestic violence made against him by his ex-wife Amber Heard. Another star, Ezra Miller, was videoed grabbing a woman by the throat in a bar in Reykjavik and was last week arrested for disorderly conduct in a Hawaii karaoke bar.
For Gilbey and the Guardian though, alleged wife-beating and choking women in public were ‘small beer’ compared to Rowling writing about own personal experiences and views on the transgender debate. Having listed the accusations facing Depp and Miller, Gilbey claimed that:
This all feels like small beer compared with the controversy that has swirled around Rowling over the past few years, ever since a long essay she wrote about her gender-critical feminism put her at the centre of the row about trans rights. The world of Harry and its Fantastic Beasts spin-offs has undoubtedly been marred by this.
Are words really more harmful than actions? Quite a statement from such a leading organ of PC opinion. Following an online backlash, the Guardian has now been forced to change its article, noting in a footnote that: ‘this article was amended on 8 April 2022 to rephrase a sentence that inadvertently downplayed the actions of Depp and Miller.’ Yet as writer Sarah Ditum points out, the piece also celebrates fans ‘removing her from the picture’ and ‘taking ownership’ of Rowling’s work – just like the NYT’s campaign to ‘imagine Harry Potter without its creator.’
Erasing women – how progressive.
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