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Hogwarts Legacy Is Chik-fil-A History Repeating Itself

Hogwarts Legacy title card

What do a video game based on a transphobe‘s franchise and a homophobic sandwich chain have in common? They’re both the hill a lot of liberals are happy to let their allyship for queer people die on.

A viral Tumblr post by a user going by @what_the_hel_man, that’s since jumped platforms to other social media channels, explains that the current discourse and nonsense surrounding Hogwarts Legacy is exactly like what happened when Chik-fil-A’s homophobia was first outed back in the day. For those lucky enough not to remember 2011, that was the year that Chik-fil-A’s donations to multiple extremely homophobic organizations came out and LGBT+ people quite understandably asked their friends and family to stop eating there.

To paraphrase Douglas Addams—this made a lot of people very angry.

Of course, some (mostly queer) people boycotted. However, a whole lot decided that not only were they going to keep on eating Chik-fil-a but they were actually going to eat it more. Some of those were the usual right-wing suspects, who hate queer people and actively support the same causes, but as @what_the_hel_man pointed out, a lot of them weren’t. A lot of them were self-proclaimed allies, people who asserted they loved their queer children/siblings/friends, but who found being asked to stop visiting a fast food chain a step too far.

“These allies would march in the colorful parades and go to the bars for drinks, but in the end, you couldn’t actually depend on them to inconvenience themselves. They were fair-weather allies, and they were there for the party and that’s about it . They wanted entertainment, and it didn’t matter if that came from having fun gay friends or a tasty sandwich.”

Queer people were too loud, asking for too much, going too far. Worse, they were making people feel bad. And that’s just unforgivable.

Is this starting to sound familiar?

For a lot of people, the absolute worst thing you can be—worse than a bigot—is a buzzkill. Those who want to feel like a good person while still getting to play the latest Harry Potter game/eat an overrated chicken sandwich seem to feel like being asked to put queer and Jewish people’s well-being ahead of that counts as a personal attack. One that either has to be countered by either a justification of their actions or by turning on the marginalized group in question and framing them as aggressors.

We’re seeing a lot of both reactions right now, with the accusations of bullying from streamers over what is largely mild, justified criticism, claims that boycotts are counterproductive, and flagrant misuse of the truism that “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism.”

The fact remains, however, that there’s a big difference between being forced to participate in a wholly unethical system (capitalism, in case that wasn’t clear) in order to survive, and spending money on non-essentials when that money will be used to benefit bigots and enable them to do continued harm to marginalized people. There are some organizations whose reach is so all-pervasive that to boycott them entirely would cut people off from participating in society or even being able to feed themselves—which is obviously a problem and one of many that leftists are hoping to dismantle. But using products and services produced by those companies is not the same thing as buying a specific video game, produced by and profiting from a specific set of transphobic and anti-semitic creators, or a homophobic sandwich.

Maybe boycotts don’t work, though that really depends on your definition of work, and whether you demand total failure of the product/collapse of the company or a more realistic decrease in profits and cultural power. Still, even if they don’t work and all you’d be doing is choosing not to personally put money in the pocket of a bigot, money that would then be funneled into continued harm toward the targeted communities, that’s still a choice you have the power to make. It’s also a choice that’s going to be meaningful to the trans and Jewish people in your life.

People are going to continue buying Hogwarts-themed merch, just like people continued eating Chik-fil-A, but if you’re going to do that just admit that you don’t care enough about the impact it has on queer and Jewish people to stop. Don’t try and think up justifications or turn yourself into the victim. Just admit it, if only to yourself.

(featured image: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

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Siobhan Ball is a historian, an archivist, and loves Star Wars so much her English teacher once staged an intervention with her family to try and get her to read other books. She decided to go on and write about it for a living instead.