Writing and reading are hard, so if HP fanfic is what gets you reading and writing, fine. Just know you’re highly suspect at this point.
Obviously there are more important things to deal with regarding trans rights, but death of the author doesn’t entirely apply when the author’s still alive and spewing bigotry to millions of followers.
There are so many problematic IPs by actually dead problematic authors you could be using instead.
And if y’all can kill Game of Thrones just for having a shitty ending, y’all can kill Harry Potter too.
I’m really struggling with the idea that HP fan creations benefit JK Rowling.
Intuitively, it doesn’t seem like it should hold up. Rowling’s not making money from them, after all. And idk if market research teams use fan creations to determine interest in a franchise, but even if they do, public interest doesn’t always equal public engagement
HP as a franchise is both too big for its products to not do well regardless of boycotts *and* not big enough to have divorced itself from Rowling.
You can cite death of the author all you like, but this author is still alive and the de facto name of the franchise both in terms of creative input and in making money from it.
I think about the fandoms i’m in and have created content for, and the thing they have in common is that they’re all corporate, collective products at this point.
If any one creative decision-maker for the Batman franchise is transphobic, it doesn’t matter because that transphobe isn’t the only creative decision-maker for Batman.
And you don’t have to look hard to find racism and other bigotry in Lord of the Rings.
Regrets about the orcs or no, racism was just as big then as it is now. Those regrets are something Tolkien should’ve had while creating his stories, not just after the fact.
Creation is hard; and there really isn’t an AO3 for original fiction. So if you’re using HP as a template or a way to reach an audience, i get it.
I’m currently writing something that I probably should just convert to original fiction at this point, but it’s staying LotR fanfic until further notice cuz I don’t have the time to worldbuild and convert and I just wanna write the damn thing.
The franchises I create content for are so big and have had so many versions that I can’t even name the people responsible for the individual versions of those franchises that I’m familiar with. Death of the author applies because there’s been so many authors at this point. No one person is benefiting from and controlling DC or Marvel franchises anymore.
And Tolkien’s been dead for longer than I’ve been alive. Tolkien hasn’t been benefiting from or controlling the LotR franchise for ages. We’re talking about decomposition of the author by now.
But we’re not there yet for HP.
Do i think we’ll get there one day? Absolutely!
But Rowling is still the name, face, and beneficiary of the brand.
The thing that will cause us to not need to boycott HP products is HP products not being created in the first place, and the best way for HP products to not get made is to not demonstrate demand for them.
And if not demonstrating demand means not posting your HP fic for a while, do it for trans people like me. Do it for people of color. Do it for victims of other bigotry Rowling’s peddled over the years. Do it for intersectional victims of Rowling’s bigotries.
I know it’s tempting. I know i like posting my fics when I’m finished with them.
But AO3 will still be there waiting for you once death of the author can apply to Rowling.
I won’t claim to know how your brain works, but you probably don’t need HP as a template as much as you think you do. There’s countless:
two guys and a girl combos in fiction
popular kid, street kid, and academic kid combos in fiction
old mentors in fiction.
abused orphans in fiction
schools in fiction
magic in fiction.
Whatever you need HP for, I guarantee you that you can find it in a franchise where death of the author applies.
And if after all this, you decide to write HP fanfic anyway, just know that death of the author can apply to you.
“Well, I want to hope they support trans rights, but they’re also engaging in a transphobe’s IP at a time where both the transphobe and transphobia are considered acceptable.”
Fanfic can be especially faceless as opposed to other kinds of creative work. On AO3, people only know as much about you as you put out there. Once you have an account, all you need to upload a fic is the text, the title, the language, and whatever archive warnings apply.
Do i think HP fanfic writers need to start including condemnations of Rowling in their work? I personally don’t really care if you do or don’t. I’ve been writing fanfic for five years now, and I certainly don’t write condemnations of the problematic subject matter I engage in.
Creativity and morality has always been, is always, and will always be a nuanced conversation. It’s no author’s job to teach you how to be a good person.
I personally don’t think freely contributing to an IP that’s still heavily intertwined with a bigot makes you a good person.
“People are engaging with problematic subject matter in fiction! that means they support problematic subject matter in real life!”
That’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is consider the context of the world at large in which you are choosing to engage in this particular subject matter.
JK Rowling isn’t spewing transphobia into the void. Her millions of followers are gobbling it up, or most generously, tacitly endorsing her transphobia by continuing to follow and platform her.
Nuanced situations require nuanced answers, and to be honest, this isn’t a nuanced situation for me.
I’m trans, I didn’t grow up with HP, nor do I read or write HP fanfiction. The only dog i have in this fight is “holy shit, there’s a transphobe who’s still massively popular despite how violently vocal she is about her transphobia”.
So for me, the answer is to just continue not consuming and creating HP things, continue having Rowling blocked, etc.
Again, I’m not going to claim to know how you create and consume things or your personal situation, but keep in mind the broader context in which you are creating and consuming things. creative work is never done in a vacuum.
Or to borrow some academic terminology, what could one say about your creations when one critiques them through a historical lens?