Highlight the saga Harry Potter without quoting JK Rowling, impossible ? The Seattle Pop Culture Museum (MoPOP) has nevertheless chosen to draw a line under the name of the British author, to exhibit objects linked to the most famous magical universe in the world without promoting the transphobic remarks of its creator.
The institution explains its decision in a long blog post written in the first person by Chris Moorecurator of MoPOP exhibits, who also describes himself as “a board member of the Seattle Trans and Nonbinary Choral Ensemble and ex-transgender fanatic of Harry Potter “. In his text, he compares JK Rowling to “a cold, heartless, joy-stealing entity in the world of Harry Potter “. “It’s not really a Dementor,” he blurts, referring to the gruesome creatures, hooded corpses known to suck away all happy memories and drain the souls of wizards.
The museum points to the author’s transphobic statements, which date back to 2018. JK Rowling first supported people hostile to transgender women, before taking a stand herself. Tweets, blog posts… The author sided with a fired woman after making transphobic remarks, criticizing the mention “menstruating” (used instead of the term “woman” to be less excluding) and is strongly opposed to the project of Nicola Sturgeonex-First Minister of Scotland who was trying to facilitate the recognition of gender change from the age of 16 without a medical certificate.
The museum also has a conflicting past with the novelist. Chris Moore recounts how JK Rowling “attacked one of MoPOP’s former video editors, Jessie Earl “, which had explained how the receipts of the video game Hogwarts Legacy would help fund the author’s transphobic remarks. “[JK Rowling’s]pals then continued to attack Jessie, garnering…approximately 4,200 comments on the original post and writing hundreds of negative comments under Jessie’s post. »
Voldemort in the text?
MoPOP also denounces lack of diversity and inclusivity in books Harry Potter and detective novels by Robert Galbraith, JK Rowling’s literary pseudonym: “We can’t forget all the other ways she’s problematic: the support of anti-Semitic creators, the racial stereotypes she used in creating characters, the world incredibly white wizarding, grossophobia, lack of LGBTQIA+ representation, super cold view of bigotry and alienation from those who don’t fit the standard wizarding world (…)”
All these reasons lead the MoPOP to present objects taken from the saga Harry Potter without any “mention or image” of the author to “reduce her influence”: “It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s what we were able to do in the short term while determining the long-term practices” , the statement concludes. In this text, the museum regularly designates JK Rowling by the name “Celle-Dont-On-Ne-Must-Pas-Prononcer-Le-Nom”, a formula well known to fans of Harry Potter since it designates, in the books, the master of evil Lord Voldemort.
Chris Moore does not avoid the other major subject of tension for his museum: the presence of JK Rowling in the pantheon of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. She entered it in 2018, before making a radical turn similar to the declarations and demands of the TERF (anti-transgender radical feminist) movement, notes the MoPOP. According to the Telegram, the museum then published a short biography of the author, devoted to her work. Recently, the curators decided to remove objects related to it from their gallery.
The trio of the saga against the author’s transphobic remarks
The institution relies on three strong supporters: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson And Rupert Grint. The actors who make up the trio of the saga Harry Potter quickly rose up against the words of JK Rowling, to support LGBTQIA + people. Daniel Radcliffe has been involved for several years in an association that helps children, adolescents and young adults queer.
Interviewed by IndieWire, he said he was aware that many “young queer and trans people have identified a lot with Harry Potter”: “And seeing them hurt (by the author’s comments), I wanted them to know that not everyone thinks not the same in the franchise. And it was very important. Rupert Grint, interpreter of Ron Weasley, had let it be known in the press that he is “firmly in solidarity with the trans community”: “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all have the right to live with love and without judgement. »
Emma Watson, meanwhile, caused a buzz in 2020 with a tweet that went viral: “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told that they are not what they say they are. The actress and activist had donated to several trans support organizations and encouraged her followers to do the same.
Interviewed by the Telegram, a spokesperson for MoPOP assures that the museum is also part of an approach of commitment and pedagogy: “MoPOP is proud to support our employees and stands unequivocally alongside non-binary and transgender communities. . In an increasingly divided world, pop culture can unite, inspire and spark important conversations. Education and creative expression are central to our mission and in our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, we strive to shine a light on those who are excluded from the mainstream conversation on pop culture, amplifying voices and stories not always seen on museum walls. »
The MoPOP aims to be a reassuring and welcoming setting for all fans ofHarry Potter, even if it means concealing the creator of this universe which was a cradle of marvelous imagination for generations of readers. After all, JK Rowling herself said that Hogwarts would “always be there to welcome” – all – readers “home”. The same goes for the many Muggles who are directly affected by his discriminating remarks.