Last week, the new Harry Potter video game, Hogwarts Legacy, premiered on a variety of platforms. It’s a game that’s been highly anticipated by many, and from the reviews, it sounds like it’s a lot of fun. At the same time, since it’s Harry Potter, and JK Rowling has come under a lot of fire for her statements around trans rights, it’s a game that’s been more than a bit of a lightning rod. There are many who are boycotting the game, since they don’t want to support any of Rowling’s efforts.
This is a trend that has gained momentum over the past decade. I saw it particularly around feelings for Donald Trump. There were people ready to ditch any friend who voted for Donald Trump, or who expressed any amount of approval for anything he did. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a well-established anti-Trumper, and I have a very hard time understanding why anyone can support him. But I’m also not ready to label anyone who does a bigot. (That they support a bigot, sure. But I recognize there are all sorts of decisions that go into politics. It’s anything but a black and white issue.) It’s one thing to be against something personally. It’s very different to be against anyone who expresses any support for that thing you’re against, yet this is something that keeps coming up.
I’ve read diatribes by people speaking out against anyone who buys a Brandon Sanderson book, since he pays tithing to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which means that any money that goes toward him goes to support a “hate group.” I can understand disliking the church. I can understand disliking an author who supports that church, if your dislike for the church is intense enough, but once we’re to the point where we’re labeling anyone who reads one of that author’s books as a bigot or some other insult, I think we’re off the deep end.
I’ve written before about how I try to separate the art from the artist. I love Woody Allen movies. I love Michael Jackson songs. I am not necessarily big fans of those two artists as individuals, however. (Though I realize in both situations, things are . . . thorny.) I’m not a big supporter of Scientology, but I loved Top Gun: Maverick, and I didn’t try to accuse anyone who went and saw it of being Scientologists, since they were supporting Tom Cruise. JK Rowling’s statements on trans rights are also thorny, and I think anyone who labels them as completely transphobic is being overly reductive. Yet at the same time, I recognize how sensitive of a subject that is, and how little of it I understand. I certainly wouldn’t fault someone for having huge issues with her, and I definitely believe her tone has been extremely callous and dismissive at times to an extent that’s very hurtful. She’s categorically terrible at arguing.
But I would never tell anyone not to buy and enjoy a Harry Potter game or a Brandon Sanderson book, or any other piece of art or entertainment. Because where does it end? Do I need to do a full background check of all the people involved in a movie or a book or a game, along with a full discovery of where they invest their money, before I’ll allow myself (or others) the luxury of enjoying that movie or book or game?
Every time something like that happens, it drives us further apart. It’s bad enough to label someone based on their actions. To reduce them to nothing more than a stereotype because of something they did or said. But to do the same thing for something they bought or enjoyed? It’s stopped making sense, and it makes people who disagree with that mentality that much more willing to do the same (to dismiss and stereotype) to the people advocating for it.
Fact: there are literally no perfect people on this earth. They’ve all made mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger than others. Some mistakes we know about. Some we don’t. We will never be able to know someone’s a genuinely good person, especially if all we know of that person is what we read in the news and online. So it’s highly likely we’re buying or watching or reading or listening to something that was created by a person who has deeply hurt or upset another person or people. But I recognize I too have deeply hurt or upset people. If I’m willing to cut myself some slack, it’s only right that I extend that slack cutting to other people.
I haven’t bought Hogwart’s Legacy yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and I’d like to try it out. If I do, I’ll sleep soundly at night. I don’t think less of the people who decide they don’t want to play it. But if they try to extend that decision to everyone else, it no longer makes sense to me.
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