Why Fans Are Boycotting ‘Hogwarts Legacy’
Here at The Mary Sue, we’ve done quite a bit of coverage on the upcoming game and the franchise from which it takes inspiration. The game is currently steeping in a pot of controversy tea. Why? Because the creator of the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling is an outspoken transphobe. Bummer, right?
As result, a group of gamers is calling for a full boycott of Hogwarts Legacy. They’re probably gonna spend their time playing one of these better games instead.
And So Should You, But In Case You Need Convincing…
J.K. Rowling is a self identified TERF. It stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. Cute. Literally sounds like someone’s grandma made her way onto the internet and started identifying as a “switch” because she saw the word in a forum once. It’s a horrible term. Bigoted. Anti-feminist. Totally behind the times. All qualities that J.K. Rowling seems to be intent on incorporating into her personality. She has launched into screed after screed of transphobic nonsense while claiming that she is some sort of feminist icon and “ally” of the LGBTQ+ community. If you want a full timeline of all of her statements, click the “outspoken transphobe” link above. Or you can just dick around on her Twitter and trust me, you’ll find something.
Most recently, that “something” is J.K. Rowling’s asinine response to gamer Jesse Earl’s call to boycott the game. Earl tweeted that she will not “begrudge anyone their love of past works or thing [sic] that they already own… but any support of Hogwarts Legacy is harmful.” Earl added that she “owns the first 9 movies and all 7 books” herself. So do many of us. What she’s saying here is that it is not unethical to own content produced by Rowling in the past, further financial support of the author should be discouraged.
J.K. Rowling didn’t get the memo.
In response to the tweet, Rowling did what she does best: she punched down. Rowling mocked Earl, calling her statement “purethink” and claimed that the “truly righteous wouldn’t just burn books and movies but the local library, anything with an owl on it and their own pet dogs”. Once again, Rowling has managed to self-victimize flawlessly, casting herself as a beleaguered champion of free feminist thought who is continually set upon by internet trolls. She even wrote a book about this exact narrative. Her newest novel The Ink Black Heart concerns a webcomic artist whose controversial views cause her to be hounded by denizens of the internet. Sound familiar? Except in Rowling’s novel, her heroine is doxxed and murdered in a graveyard. I guess that’s a more thrilling end than her sitting in a castle surrounded by piles of money?
Rowling didn’t seem to get that Earl was in fact NOT telling fans of the series to burn their Harry Potter books at all, but rather telling them that is okay to hold on to them. Once again, Rowling is deaf to the actual problem: her own inability to listen. She identifies as a feminist, yet when real feminists criticize her harmful views, she simply shuts her ears and turns towards the only “feminists” who will have her: the TERFS. In her mind, she is now martyr dying on the hill of some sort of feminist ideal. What she doesn’t realize is that she is one of the most powerful and privileged people in the world, and the she is using that power to further denigrate an already downtrodden minority.
Rowling’s references to “book burning” is another irony that is entirely lost on her, considering that the practice is most famously associated with a certain group of historical anti-Semites; and that she herself is under fire for use of anti-Semitic tropes in her writing. The goblins of the Harry Potter wizarding world are described as “greedy” and “hook nosed,” and are in control of the magical banking system. Yikes. The main storyline of Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t help the issue, as object of the game is to crush a goblin rebellion. It’s not the first time that Rowling has been accused of other types of bigotry. The original Harry Potter series has fallen under new scrutiny due to its treatment of Black characters, as well as problematic East Asian stereotypes in the form of Harry Potter’s love interest Cho Chang.
But What About Everyone Else Who Worked On The Game?
They all got paid. The developers. The voice actors. The design team. They got their paychecks and dipped. They don’t need your support. They did they gig, and many of them had put the time in before they even knew about Rowling’s controversial views. Meanwhile, Rowling herself stands to make a hefty royalty from sales of the game, despite having been uninvolved with its creation. Voice actors who worked on the game have already spoken out against J.K. Rowling, most notably Sebastian Croft, whose performance in the game drew ire from fans due to his past appreances as an LGBTQ+ character in Netflix’s Heartstopper. Croft publicly tweeted “trans women are women and trans men are men,” a sentiment shared by many of the former cast members of the Harry Potter film series.
At the end of the day, the issue is best summed up in an essay penned by Jesse Earl for GameSpot. To paraphrase her words, it doesn’t make you a bad person if you’re interested in playing the game. In all honesty, the open world design and the combat mechanics of the game look impressive, and you can tell that the development team put quite a bit of blood, sweat, and perhaps even tears into their work for the title. Earl goes on to say that many transgender people are interested in buying the game themselves, despite their feelings of antipathy and outrage towards the person responsible for the source material. Despite Rowling’s fear of the contrary, the answer isn’t to burn all of your Harry Potter books and deny that you thought of yourself as a Ravenclaw once. The answer is to weigh the options of whether or not you would like to contribute to the financial legacy of a person with problematic views. And that’s up to you to decide.
(image credit: Portkey Games)
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