Unless you’re a lit-geek or a giant homophobe looking for more evidence that teh gayz are taking over the universe, the Dumbledore outing was a pretty much a non-story. If I wasn’t a lit-geek, I probably wouldn’t be addressing it on my blog. There are more hot pictures to put up, frankly – Ingrid Bergman, Nicole Kidman, Gina Gershon, et al.
What’s sad about this non-story is that the text itself seems to be of little consequence, it’s the politics of the thing that count. One the (excellent) forum over at the Barrowdowns, I used to participate in fierce discussions involving issues of supremacy within the interpretation of text – how much weight should a reader’s interpretation carry? When the writer issued a strong statement such as, for example Tolkien talking about how he “consciously” revised The Lord of the Rings into somewhat of a Christian text – does this require the reader to view the book as a Christian work? How much room do we make for ourselves when we pick up a particular book and struggle to interpret it?
Questions in a similar vein are really the only ones worth asking now that Dumbledore has been “outed” by J.K. Rowling. For me, at least. The new stories, meanwhile, are just empty buzz – fodder for Bill Donohue, various “concerned mothers,” and so on. (Naive?) People have claimed that this is some sort of advancement of gay rights, and while I do hope that Rowling’s revelation may inspire some people to re-think the issue of homosexuality as some sort of terrible, taboo subject only to be spoken about in a screeching voice with Beethoven’s 5th playing ominously in the background, I somehow doubt it.
The fact that a fictional character’s personal life can be a headline on the BBC really does make Dumbledore come alive in a way that’s rare for literature in general. Dumbledore is a presence as immediate for us as, oh, I don’t know – Britney Spears (with better grammar and fashion sense). Once again, good news for lit-geeks everywhere (and please, don’t inundate me with shrill cries that “but Harry Potter is not LITERATURRR!” – I don’t care), but not exactly the cause célèbre it’s been made out to be.
As for J.K. Rowling’s motives – I’m sure she means well. In fact, I know it. But, and this simply needs to be said – the control she is trying to exercise over her text and, by extension, the reading public is a little too intense for my tastes. Can’t we, the Potter readers, dream a little too?
P.S. Lookie lookie, Rebecca Traister pretty much just said everything I did.