Guest post: What, exactly, would be changed?

Originally a comment by Freemage on Imagine.

Okay, I’m gonna leap down this rabbit-hole for a moment, because I think it really gets at the critiques of Rowling and Harry Potter from the TRAs:

H. P. Lovecraft was the creator of the Cthulu “mythos”. He pretty much invented, whole-cloth, the idea of ancient gods who are so far beyond human experience that to apply mortal morals to them is absurd, and to contemplate them directly is to invite insanity. Just as Mary Shelly created the first real Sci-Fi Horror story, Lovecraft pretty much invented the whole genre of Existential Horror. His writings have inspired scores of other writers to produce work in the same genre, as well as art, music and parodies. (I’m fond of the HP Lovecraft Christmas Carol book, personally.)

He was also a flaming racist. And not just by modern standards; even by the standards of a white man in the early 1900s, he was an extremist. (He also was terrified by science and technology, including the notion of air-conditioning.)

And these views are rife throughout his writings. The view that anyone who isn’t a high-born WASP is in some way not merely inferior, but actually dangerous, is [integral] to his stories.

Naturally, this has created some difficulties in the modern era. When retelling his stories in new adaptations, or in new works based on his mythos, writers, filmmakers and others generally take considerable effort to excise the elements that are so offensive. One of the biggest triumphs in the remake category comes from Jordan Peele, whose Lovecraft County takes pretty much everything that’s fun and enjoyable about HP’s writings, and then infuses it with a strong anti-racist vibe. Perfect subversion.

I went on this tangent to show that it’s possible to ‘imagine the art without the artist’. But now, let’s look at the billboard slogan again.

What, exactly, would be changed in a Harry Potter-verse that was written by someone who wasn’t J.K. Rowling? Well… pretty much absolutely nothing. At most, there might’ve been a greater diversity of skin-tones among the characters. But there’s no intrinsic social or political views that are driving her world-building the way there is with H.P.’s. You can’t eliminate her ‘transphobia’ because there’s nothing in the work that contains her views on sex-based differences in the first place, other than the existence of boy’s and girl’s bathrooms.

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