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In 2015, Noma Dumezweni was cast as Hermione in the then-upcoming Cursed Child. Harry Potter fans, who had long been asserting that black Hermione made more narrative sense, were ecstatic. So, too, it seemed was JK Rowling.
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione 😘 https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
The Twitterverse went crazy, retweeting Rowling 77 000 times, lauding the author for her progressive stance.
But for many, the tweet didn’t make sense. She was taking credit for being progressive without acknowledging where she went wrong in the first place. Considering the lack of diversity in her books, it wouldn’t be difficult to say that this casting was a way of amending prior mistakes.
Instead, she implied that she kept Hermione’s race ambiguous on purpose for fourteen years.
And this wasn’t a once-off occurrence.
Ever since JK Rowling joined Twitter in 2009, she has used the platform to amend her texts and tout political stances that often contradict their messages. Because of the cult nature of Harry Potter — and its nostalgic pull — the author often remains untouchable, lauded for her progressivism.
JK Rowling’s political position, and Twitter feed, is almost entirely centred on her public image
On 9 June, a day after the UK snap election, Rowling went on a 14-tweet-long rant about why calling UK Prime Minister Theresa May a “whore” was equivalent to allying yourself with “men who send violent pornographic images and rape threats”.
And while the author certainly has a point, she also refuses to acknowledge that she has been guilty of shaming her own female characters for their traditional femininity.
Throughout the novels, characters like Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil were vilified for their girliness, and for their sexual desire. While revered women like Molly Weasley and Minerva McGonagall were down-to-earth and never overtly girly, antagonists like Dolores Umbridge and Rita Skeeter wore pink and giggled like there was no tomorrow.
Of course, Rowling by no means has to justify herself or her Twitter usage to anyone — but to consistently use the platform to call others out without ever acknowledging that she has been guilty of the same feels fake.
It also doesn’t help her case that she has blocked numerous users who disagree with her or her politics. One Twitter user was blocked for calling out the casting of Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
— Poseidon (@Pureevilbich) February 20, 2017
Another user has no idea why he was blocked.
JK Rowling has blocked me what the fuck?! Hahahahahahaha
— Will (@__picturesofyou) April 29, 2017
And another user criticised her for killing off Harry Potter’s owl.
remember jk rowling blocked me for calling her a brute for killing hedwig
— shy (@pinkjcksn) April 4, 2017
If Rowling really wanted to be progressive — and if she was as willing to learn as she is to teach — she wouldn’t need to put on this strange untouchable air online.
But right now, her political position is almost entirely centred on her public image. And it makes for a sad, and strange, Twitter feed.