Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Butchering the Sacred Cow

I should preface this by saying unequivocably that I am no fan of J.K. Rowling or her books. I haven't read one, nor seen any of the derived movies (aside from commercials). And yet, I'm utterly fascinated by the furor surrounding the casual announcement that a key character was "always thought of as gay" by Rowling.

It wasn't just the howls of dismay, it's the sheer nastiness that accompanies them that's so odd. That an author so popular and so beloved would be told to shut up her big fat mouth since she's just plain wrong is remarkable, to say the least.

Most people are trying to couch their indignation in the language of art and literary theory, claiming that once she had finished the book, her input had ended, and no way is she gonna tell me who is and who isn't gay if I don't like it.

The reality is, of course her input doesn't end the minute she puts down her pen. Even the high-brow literary types have to admit that her opinion counts at least as much as the next reader, and that's all she was really offering anyway: her opinion about one of the characters.

In this age of printed text and copyright, storytellers have much more control over their characters than in ages past. These days, ideas have currency, and all of five minutes spent germinating a character with potentially international appeal could translate into a massive fortune. For those storytellers who have found popular success, special dispensation is given to the stories that they themselves create, even as their characters leave their aegis at first telling. The term 'canon,' more familiarly applied to Biblical stories, is even used to wall-off and separate those truly "authentic" stories from the cheap knock-offs crafted by those who have borrowed the characters, either legitimately or otherwise.

And 'canon' is the right word, to be sure. Imagine a similar situation occurring to a key character in the stories of the Biblical canon... let's say, Jesus. Is it that difficult to predict what might happen if, for example, an old text from a church father were to make the suggestion that Jesus was gay? Oh, right- that happened. It's not likely to be accurate, but I can't think of a single Christian who finds it plausible... because it conflicts with the picture of Jesus interpreted from the 'canon.' Never mind that no mention is made there of Jesus' sexuality one way or another, nor the fact that he's middle-aged and unmarried, hanging out with a bunch of guys all the time.

The fact of the matter is that 'canon' is just opinion, too. It's just the way the story happened to be told by one person, or agreed upon by a group of people. Nobody's confined to it, and it's subject to change. Just think of how the interpretation of the Tanakh changed after the Christians added their scriptures to it. But if those of us who are interested in figuring out the root of the Christian story deviate from 'canon,' what do we hear?

No way are they gonna tell me who is and who isn't myth if I don't like it!

Post a Comment


At 10/25/2007 9:03 PM, Blogger bpabbott declaimed...

"Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers" :-)

It's a business/leadership book, but includes a lot of points that apply nicely to religion ;-)

At 10/27/2007 8:13 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

Too much red meat. Why are people so daft about their fictional characters anyway? If Rowling says he's gay, he's gay. "So what?", as the first talking crow I ever encountered used to say whe he was alive. That crow had no idea what he was saying, but it was still a lot more relevant than the imaginary backstory sexual preference of an imaginary character. I get the feeling that these irate idiots have the emotional maturity of a six-year old.

At 10/28/2007 1:44 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Jesus was a flaming fag, so I don't know what they're talking about.

At 10/29/2007 4:36 PM, Blogger literary dead kittens declaimed...

You know, I went a little off the wall over this. It's her bloody creation, the concept of 'fan-fiction' was made for people wanting to rewrite what they saw as the 'error's made the creator.

I write, I know what its like to create a character and know every last detail of their life as intimately as your own. Having some wanker with no imagination of their own tell you they know your character better than you do must irritate the hell out of an author.



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