You Can Be Critical of Something You Love… and Still Love It
When you say the words “wizarding world,” what comes to mind? Is it the original seven Harry Potter books? The Harry Potter movies? The Fantastic Beasts movies? Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? The truth is, the wizarding world includes all of those things, all of the fans who love them, and so much more. The wizarding world has grown into this colossal entity that encapsulates 20 plus years of stories and content, and it’s still growing.
So what happens when something related to this enormous universe – full of diverse content and diverse people – transpires or something new comes out and you don’t love it? What if you disagree with it or even – dare I say – dislike it? Does this make you no longer a fan? Is it really possible to dislike something that is entwined with the thing you truly love, or is it impossible to love a piece of fiction without loving the fandom in its entirety?
If I’m being honest, that question is ridiculous. How can anyone expect someone to love every single little thing associated with the Harry Potter fandom or any fandom for that matter? Many of us were introduced to this world by the books or the Potter movies, and it might be safe to say that a good amount of people love that original foundation of work as a whole and have little to no problems with it overall. But to be fair, we thought the universe was done at that point. We were told by J.K. Rowling herself that she would not be releasing any more content, that she was finished with the wizarding world, and that was that.
Alas, that wasn’t quite the way it turned out as we know now. Since the original series ended, we’ve received more and more content including – but not limited to – Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. These works have had varying levels of involvement from J.K. Rowling as opposed to the original book series that was 100% created and crafted by her. This fact alone is enough to prove that not every fan of the original series is going to react the same way as they did about all previous works.
These new stories were released in different formats (screenplays, on-stage performances, and full-length feature films as opposed to novels) and had a variety of collaborators shaping them and bringing them to life. I, personally, loved the original series and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but had issues with certain aspects of Crimes of Grindelwald and just plain disliked Cursed Child even though I both read the screenplay and saw it performed live. Now, turn to all of the Potter fans around you and see how many have the exact same opinions as me? The answer is little to none because we’re all different people with different likes and dislikes.
Does this mean that because I had issues with certain stories and releases that relate to the original series that I no longer love Harry Potter as a whole? Of course not. The most important part of consuming fiction and media is to be able to think critically about it. Let it shape you, but don’t let it change you fundamentally. You have to be able to look at something you love and admit when there’s something that you don’t agree with because, while the story as a whole may be something you love, you don’t have to agree with every single thing the creator of that story decides to include. The creator of a fictional piece of work is human, and so are you. Humans have fundamental differences, and no one is exactly the same, so you can’t be expected to agree with every single thing another human being says or does. And why would you want to? Being different from each other and expressing those differences is what makes us unique. Isn’t that what Potter taught us?
Speaking of disagreeing with creators, let’s talk about J.K. Rowling.
Whether you think her recent tweet was transphobic or not, you cannot deny that it hurt a lot of people. You might not be one of those people. You may think what she said was fine, and I’m not here to argue with you or change your mind. But what you unequivocally cannot deny is that people are upset about it. She hurt a lot of people with her words and has yet to acknowledge that fact or apologize for the pain her words have caused.
What happens when someone you admire, perhaps for the majority of your life, does or says something you fundamentally disagree with? Does that negate the entirety of their work and what it has always meant to you? The answer is that it doesn’t have to. We can all choose to react in our own ways – from boycotting all of the material to continuing on as if nothing happened to everything in between. Whatever your choice, it is valid for you.
The truth of the matter is that it is possible to dislike a book, story, or movie in the wizarding world and still love Harry Potter. You can change your opinion on J.K. Rowling and still continue to love and consume the world she continues to build for us. You should take a critical look at the things you love and hold true to your beliefs even if every aspect of the universe doesn’t fit in perfectly with where you stand. Doing so doesn’t make you less of a fan. It makes you more of an independent thinker. And what can we take away from these stories if not to be true to ourselves?