To Buy or Not to Buy…

Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about the game Hogwarts Legacy. More specifically, I want to talk about the social conflict that is surrounding the game. I’m sure that most people know that there are plenty of people choosing to boycott this game along with all Harry Potter products. Why?

The controversy surrounding Hogwarts Legacy can largely be attributed to a series of transphobic statements made by the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling in the years before and since the game’s announcement. Rowling published an essay that included her “Five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism.” That essay (along with Rowling’s earlier tweets) caused many of Rowling’s fans and colleagues (as well as a number of organizations) to publicly denounce the author, her views, and her works. All of this has lead up to the practice of many people not buying products that are within the Harry Potter world.

Let me just put it on the table that I am a transgender person. I am bigender. I don’t agree with the things that Rowling has said. I believe that she is hateful and Othering those who are transgender. That being said, I’m not an advocate for not buying things that are associated with her name. Why not?

The first reason is that J.K. Rowling already has a billion dollars. Buying or not buying something related to Harry Potter is not going to change the fact that she is a very wealthy person and has all the power that comes with having that wealth. Even if no one ever buys anything from her ever again and she has zero income from hence forth, she will continue to be a very rich person. That’s how wealth on that magnitude works. So, it doesn’t serve as any kind of punishment for J.K. Rowling.

But it can punish those who are working for her or who are selling her products. Not everyone who has worked on a Harry Potter project is in agreement with J.K. Rowling in regards to transgender issues. When we choose to boycott the product we are more likely to cause financial harm to those that are working on the project or selling the product rather then J.K. Rowling herself.

The bigger issue for me is this: where is the line? If I am supposed to boycott J.K. Rowling related products for her hate speech against the transgender community, who else should I be boycotting? There are a great deal of creators that have expressed problematic views that are not getting their products boycotted. What’s the difference? Orson Scott Card has been as problematic with his political opinions as J.K. Rowling. Yet, there hasn’t been an enormous out cry to boycott everything that is associated with his name.

Should we be making every purchase a political decision? The truth is that I don’t know the answer to this one. If you’ve bought a bunch of things and then discover that the creator is hateful should you discard everything that you purchased? Even when you don’t give a creator your money, there is a benefit to their brand when you continue to be a fan. Does keeping the old and beat up copies of Harry Potter and Ender’s Game further support the fandom and thus the hating?

I understand that there is a great deal of power through voting with our dollar and that we vote for far more then just the product that we are buying when we spend that dollar. We can sway the way that industry creates goods and the manner that companies treat people based on the way that we spend our money. Giving financial support suggests that the manner that the company is doing business is accepted and supported by society.

There was a time that I believed that every purchase I made should be done with a political agenda. Then I began to really research the companies and creators. What I found was that there aren’t any that completely align with my personal belief system. I clearly cannot choose to never purchase anything again, that’s not how our society works. Does it then become a matter of choosing the lesser of evils? Or do we just ignore the politics of it and buy the things that we love?

I can understand and support those who choose to not purchase these goods as a political stance. It isn’t a position that I have taken, but it is one that I can understand. I choose to buy the goods because I feel that making these moral decisions is too complex to weed out all the bad with just the vote of the dollar. I also don’t see how not buying these goods has generated any change. J.K. Rowling is still rich. She still has a social platform that gives her a voice. Not buying her products isn’t going to change either of those realities.

There is a paradox that these companies and artists create. It is tricky to negotiate the consuming of valuable works by reprehensible creators. And the works that J.K. Rowling and Orson Scott Card (and many other creators) have created do have value while they themselves are absolutely reprehensible. In the 1930s and 1940s, George Orwell produced article after article trying to navigate the treacherous intersections of literature with the personal and political. This is not a new problem. But even now, there’s no map. It is unconscionable to keep giving these reprehensible people a speaking platform, but does that necessarily include the exclusion of their works that are not filled with their hate?

There is an extreme in this that I do disagree with. What I cannot get behind is the hateful statements that are being cast towards those who are buying these products. Just because someone has bought Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t mean that they are transphobic haters. And those people that have bought Ender’s Game are not homophobic haters. They are just people. Our relationships with goods and fandoms are complex and layered things that cannot be so easily simplified. Starting down the path of that kind of labeling can lead us to some really awful things. Does reading Harry Potter as a kid mean that you forever carry the label of being transphobic? If not, then where is the line? What about if you own Harry Potter stuff but never spend money on it again? Do they count as the villain?

Something that I think we should strive to keep in mind while investigating these kinds of topics is that no one is all good or all bad; that most of us live the lives we think we have to. This means that there are often great and terrible things bound up into a single person. Isn’t it possible to celebrate the great and beautiful things we see within a person while not accepting or supporting the terrible or dark things within a person?

Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!

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