Warner Bros. Responds to J.K. Rowling Backlash With Paragraph of Empty Statements
I've never seen so many words add up to nothing before.
What do you do when your cash cow starts spouting offensive viewpoints on social media? That’s the question that Warner Bros. is asking themselves in the wake of J.K. Rowling’s transphobic Twitter meltdown and subsequent 3000+-word rambling essay attempting to defend her transphobia. And with good reason: the eight Harry Potter films have grossed over $7 billion worldwide, a figure which doesn’t include all the Potter merchandise or the Wizarding World theme parks. And Warner Bros. is also still in the midst of their follow-up franchise with Rowling, the Fantastic Beasts films.
The studio is struggling to toe the line between condemning transphobia and not insulting Rowling, who has likely made them more money than other single individual. Their solution: release a statement filled with platitudes about diversity and inclusion that ultimately says nothing of substance:
After five days, Warner Bros. has issued this statement about J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans comments.
— Adam B. Vary (@adambvary) June 11, 2020
This is the press release equivalent of any teacher talking in a Peanuts cartoon. It’s white noise (emphasis on the white) designed to palliate the masses while still performing fealty to Rowling. The statement NEVER mentions trans people or calls out Rowling by name. It’s a disappointing paragraph of word soup that is made all the more pointless when compared to the statements of their franchise’s stars.
Daniel Radcliffe has released a thoughtful and eloquent statement about Rowling. Eddie Redmayne, who stars as Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts franchise and was nominated for an Oscar for playing a trans woman in 2015’s The Danish Girl said,
“As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand, … I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”
Other stars of the Potterverse have joined in to express their support for the trans community:
I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.
— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) June 10, 2020
2. As I honour mine, and the trans friends in my life. I’ll defer to THEIR LIVED EXPERIENCES, not their erasure. And these are just the WOMEN! There is Magic in listening. This 🌍 has stories for millennia. I know You Know All this…with love. Nx #TransRightsAreHumanRights pic.twitter.com/dvkS14rIVL
— Noma (@MissDumezweni) June 7, 2020
— Katie Leung (@Kt_Leung) June 7, 2020
If Harry Potter was a source of love and belonging for you, that love is infinite and there to take without judgment or question. Transwomen are Women. I see and love you, Bonnie x
— Bonnie Wright (@thisisbwright) June 10, 2020
Many responded to the deliberately vague and pointless statement on social media:
This is groundbreaking stuff from Warner Bros. They’ve managed to release a 98-word statement that actually says nothing. https://t.co/SwAs8JoLz4
— Potterless (@PotterlessPod) June 11, 2020
I’m an English teacher and copy-editor, and this statement is a DANG impressive example of a beautifully wrapped gift that contains… absolutely nothing.
— Erin Griggs (@Wordslingeuse) June 11, 2020
This from Warner Bros. is a masterclass in the non-statement statement. There are words here, and it appears to be addressing something, but you get to the end and there is just nothing but air. Incredible. pic.twitter.com/1tAJhobnhq
— Steve Mullis (Semi-Pro Social Distancer) (@stevemullis) June 11, 2020
Do better, Warner Bros. Although judging by the quality of the first two Fantastic Beasts films, maybe you can’t.
(via Variety, image: Warner Bros.)
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