JK Rowling Has A Controversial New Ally

By Nathan Kamal | 2 months ago

jk rowling

We live in very strange times. If you said even a few months ago that billionaire author and Harry Potter-creator JK Rowling would find herself supported by a brutal European dictator, it would sound unhinged. But that is the timeline in which we find ourselves, as Russian President Vladimir Putin took time in a recent speech to specifically cite JK Rowling as an individual who has been “canceled” by Western culture for failing to ​​satisfy “the demands of gender rights.” He was apparently making this statement to compare the embargos and cultural boycotts against Russia in response to their violent attempted annexation of the independent nation of Ukraine to the fact that JK Rowling gets criticized on Twitter for her obsession with diminishing the rights of trans people. It is also only fair to note that Rowling swiftly rejected Putin’s words via Twitter: 

JK Rowling is most famous for the Harry Potter franchise of books and films (and theme parks and plays and so forth), which since the 1997 publication of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, depending on where you are) has become an inescapable part of pop culture. The series made JK Rowling enormously wealthy and the rare author who is as much of a public figure as she is a writer, at this point. Whereas at the beginning of her career, she was controversial among conservatives for perceived support of Satanism (for writing books about a boy wizard), in recent years she has become a major voice in anti-trans rights circles. While this stance has certainly alienated her to much of her fan base and caused her to be publicly criticized for the public statements that she makes in public forums of her own free will, it is hard to describe Rowling as “canceled” in any meaningful way. 

On the other hand, when Vladimir Putin references JK Rowling as someone who has been “canceled” by Western cultures, he seems to be associating his increasingly disastrous leadership of Russia with unfair criticism. We often use the term “canceled” to mean individuals who receive scathing public shaming for their actions (the merits of this are highly debatable), often losing employment or social status. The term is generally not used to refer to the cultural and economic sanctions placed upon an entire nation-state by its peers on a global scale for unilaterally initiating an armed conflict that has caused hundreds of civilian deaths and thousands more of military personnel. Given that Putin also compared Western nations and companies to the actions of Nazi Germany in WWII and book burning, as opposed to McDonald’s withdrawing their business interests in Russia while they invade Ukraine, it is fair to say that the Russian president may be flailing a bit. 

There are those who support JK Rowling and her continually expressed opinions on the gender expressions of other people, including famous people. There are also many people who do not support her in her quest to ensure that only people she has vetted use a particular restroom or not, also including famous people. It is extremely strange that the President of Russia felt the need to enter this arena, but that’s the times we are in.