Mum’s the word.
J.K. Rowling was ominously silent Wednesday for the fictional 21st anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts — the end-all battle in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The battle took place on May 2, 1998.
Rowling has made a tradition of apologizing for character deaths on May 2. She started the tradition in 2015 with Fred Weasley.
“Fred was the worst for me, so I started with him,” she tweeted at the time.
.@Brieuc26Rankin I thought I might apologise for one death per anniversary. Fred was the worst for me, so I started with him.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 2, 2015
Since that tweet, Rowling has apologized for the deaths of other characters like Remus Lupin and Severus Snape.
So why none this year?
It’s impossible to say for sure, but it’s likely due to the massive levels of hate thrown at the author in recent months.
Rowling has never really left the Wizarding World. Since the publication of Deathly Hallows, we’ve been given ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ as well as two Fantastic Beasts films. With each addition comes a wave of new Wizarding World backstory via Pottermore. Rowling’s continued expansion has been met with mixed responses.
Criticism of a work is fine and dandy — artists know and expect criticism. Readers review books. Moviegoers rate movies. That’s how this works. But then there’s criticism of the creator. Sometimes that criticism is valid. (Rowling’s appropriation of indigenous people in History of Magic in North America, for example, is something important to be aware of.) But sometimes it can be downright cruel.
It got cruel earlier this year. (Note: some of the content in this link contains adult topics/language).
A meme — that’s existed for a while — picked up new steam after a behind-the-scenes interview from ‘Crimes of Grindelwald’ hit the internet. In the video, Rowling explains her approach to writing Albus Dumbledore in Fantastic Beasts. Media outlets and Twitter users took her comments out of context (which has been done so many times already) and ran with them.
The meme goes something like this:
J.K. Rowling: [Insert random explicit fact about random Harry Potter character here.]
In short, the meme implies that Rowling drops Potter knowledge unsolicited, against fan wishes. Not true, btw. But Twitter be like: I saw some tweets about wizards pooping so let’s turn J.K. Rowling into a joke.
And so they did.
Is this where it crossed the line? The conversation became less about the work and more about the person. J.K. Rowling became the butt of a worldwide joke. And if your response is, “She’s a celebrity, she just needs to grow a thick skin” — just stop.
You’ve never been the butt of a joke before and it shows.
Again: there are some valid criticisms to be had where the Wizarding World is concerned. But these days everyone wants to jump on Rowling for every little tweet — including the anniversary apologies.
What started as a little joke/tribute for fans — nothing to really be taken very seriously — has become its own controversy. The Verge couldn’t help but snarkily drag her for apologizing for Snape’s death a couple of years ago.
Is it really a mystery why she stayed quiet this year?