The Backlash Against the Backlash Against J. K. Rowling’s Bombshell Tweet

A friend in the UK sent me fotos of this Sunday Mail article this morning: ‘Good Riddance, 2019! Year of the Politically Correct WOKE Police.’  Rowling’s December #IStandWithMaya Tweet Heard Round the World rates both a mention in Douglas Murray’s catalog of leftist excess in 2019 and a picture. If you’ve never heard of Douglas Murray, you should know that he is gay, atheist, and a social critic from the political right, which is to say, not your cartoon C. S. Lewis Tory. The article in the Mail was to promote a UK tour he is making with a comedian friend, Andrew Doyle, a tour called ‘Resisting Wokeness.’ I don’t doubt he’ll also be autographing copies of his latest book, The Madness of Crowds: On Gender, Race, and Identity.

Why should you, a Serious Reader of J. K. Rowling, care about Murray’s article, his tour, or his book? Because it represents the second and probably the more important tsunami ripple in the reactions to the Twitter rock (grenade?) Rowling threw into the global social media pond on 19 December.

The backlash was immediate from those who live to be offended (and to Thought Police everywhere). Rowling was defenestrated by the Cultural Marxist politburo members in Harry Potter fandom on the Trans Barricades. Anyone who dared to like her tweet was similarly doxxed until the offender made atonement sacrifices to Dash and repented publicly in sack-cloth and ashes. Poor Mark Hamill, finally cool again after decades, may have had his Comic Con ‘Eternally Super Special Guest’ pass revoked.

The backlash to that backlash, however, from more sober talking heads and pundits on the political left and right points to Rowling’s aim, I think, in blowing up her former diva status to Harry Potter fandom. Creating something of a public safe space by her willingness to stand up to Trans-supporters’ over-reach and government’s capitulation to same in the UK, others who already taken this position are raising their voices and some who might never have checked in with #IStandWithMaya are willing to say #IStandWithJKRowling. [Read more…]

The Twitter Controversy as a Rowling Story: Mirroring Subtext, Narrative Misdirection, and Literary Alchemy

In my first post about Rowling’s tweet in support of Maya Forstater, I focused on two questions concerning this explosive reappearance on this social media platform: ‘why now?’ and ‘why this subject?’ The first response in the comment thread to that post, I think now, has the closest thing we will have to correct answers to those questions for some time. Nick Jeffery wrote, tying the seemingly arbitrary post to Rowling’s new Solve et Coagula tattoo (one he was the first to notice), ” It is an act of destruction and it is quite deliberate.”

I believe Mr Jeffery is quite right. To understand Rowling’s tweet and the consequent fall-out in fandom, our best course is to read the specific text in question as we would any story Rowling has written with the tools we know work best. What those tools suggest is that Rowling intentionally created her break with the Social Justice movement and its champions in Harry Potter fandom and I have to suspect with Hollywood in the months to come — and, as importantly, she is re-creating her public image and self to reflect better the person she wants to be (or the public mask behind which she is more comfortable).

Rather than the tweet being a clueless act of bigotry, what this view points to is three contrary to prevalent narrative possibilities: (1) that Rowling has written a story with real-world characters who voice the lines she know they will speak for effects she wants to happen within her narrative, (2) she has embedded clues for the attentive reader to discover, clues which reveal her true meaning as well as a lesson in reading well, and (3) that the #IStandWithMaya post she made on 19 December is a long-planned and courageous act of re-invention that frees her and her serious readers potentially from being sock-puppets for the Zeitgeist. Call this the ‘Solve et Coagula Theory.’

To see these three possibilities involves a review of Rowling’s year and most importantly the week prior to the tweet in question, a review using the tools we have in hand for interpreting Rowling’s work in a careful reading of the specific text in question and of the context of her previous work and public comments. If you want to move beyond the Daily Prophet headlines that ‘Rowling is a Transphobe!’ and ‘Inclusive Message of Hogwarts Saga Betrayed!,’ please join me after the jump for an exercise in exegesis with the tools of texts within texts, narrative misdirection, and literary alchemy that reveal Rowling as the maestro of media manipulation and personal re-invention. [Read more…]

Rowling Returns to Twitter with a Bang!

Twitter, of course, has exploded with the predictable backlash from the political left for whom transgender people are a protected class. For the background of who Maya is and this backlash, see this piece on Cosmopolitan that describes Rowling’s tweet as “supporting a transphobic author.” For that author’s explanation of the controversy, go here.

I am left scratching my head about this re-surfacing of The Presence at her twitter page. Why now after a year of prudential silence? Is it that she says she is all but finished with Strike5 and has time on her hands to deal with online firestorms?

And why on this subject of all possible subjects? Can you think of one less likely to win her a second ‘Ripple of Hope’ award?

The science is indisputable and the PC police backlash is as predictable given the prevalent blurring of sex and gender into synonyms (sex is a function of chromosomes not organs while gender is, at least according to the Zeitgeist, what you will). Other than standing with a woman who is being treated unfairly, what did Rowling hope to accomplish here outside of a martyrdom by doxxing? [Google ‘TERF’ for the trending story.]

Why has she chosen this issue for her re-appearance? She keeps a silence through the recent elections but decides to surface on an issue that is guaranteed to cast her as a fascist trans-phobe Tory bigot (etc.) in twitter dom?

Rowling has always said that courage is the virtue she admires most — and is showing no little of that quality here. Looking at losing all she has gained in keeping quiet for the better part of a year with respect to the high opinion of fandom, Rowling stands up for a woman being pilloried for her courage to speak the counter-metanarrative biological truth about sexual reality.

I have to admire her for that; she certainly didn’t count the cost or consult with Warner Brothers and her publishers before she wrote and sent this tweet. Or, if she did, she ignored their advice. Unless they wanted the headlines on the principle that all publicity is good publicity? Forgive me for doubting that.

In addition to the questions above, does this give Serious Strikers reason to re-visit interpretations of the Career of Evil meeting between Robin and Cormoran and the young people who want to have limbs amputated because they self-identify as amputees? Her implicit critique of the NHS in Lethal White? The theme of media irresponsibility and recklessness (and how people believe whatever The Daily Prophet and its Muggle equivalents reports)?

Let me know what you think of two issues: (a) why Rowling has re-appeared to speak on this issue today rather than Brexit, etc., in the past year, and (b) how does this reflect the more conservative messages implicit in the Potter series as well as the Strike books.

Please save your commentary on your disappointment (or elation?) that Rowling has outed herself as the new Margaret Thatcher for the tweet threads and fandom posts available elsewhere and everywhere for that discussion.


New Tarot Themed Twitter Header

J. K. Rowling has gone silent on her Twitter feed for almost a year now, the few tweets and re-tweets that have been posted are Rowling, Inc., promotions and show little of her signature panache. She has, however, changed the Twitter header more than once, most recently on 23 November, Cormoran Strike’s birthday. The new header is three cards from the Thoth Tarot Deck; Lindsay at Pools of Venetian Blue, a very Serious Striker, alerted me to the change and was the first to post about the cards and her interpretation remains the best I have read: check it out here.

I have asked Evan Willis to share his thoughts, and, end of term responsibilities allowing or concluding, he will write up and post about this most esoteric of subjects here soon. Does it mean as Lindsay suggests that Cormoran is over Charlotte? Or something deadlier?

Whence Rowling’s Twitter Silence?

J. K. Rowling has the largest twitter following of any author, steady at 14.7 million, but she has — with one brief marketing note last month and two re-tweets in March — been silent on this mega social media platform since January 2019. In May I posted three reasons I thought credible as explanations for this silence: personal problems, a court ordered injunction, and, hope driving argument, a decision to write novels and screenplays (or novels instead of screenplays!) rather than waste her energies on ephemeral politics. She was, after all, becoming a popular target for the social justice cognoscenti to berate for her insufficient woke-ness.

The thought occurs this week in light of the PotterMore rebranding as and the advent of the Harry Potter Fan Club and its $75 Gold Membership subscriber’s fee that the more obvious reason of monetary gain may explain Rowling’s departure from the platform as well as any other. Yes, this is post hoc propter hoc reasoning, a logical fallacy, but just because something happens after something else does not mean that the first might not be the reason for what follows.

The theory is simply this: the bean counters employed by Rowling to maximize her income from her various interests and copyright material advise her to consolidate her property under one umbrella, ‘Wizarding World,’ and to monetize the PotterMore website. They urge her to desist from her posting on twitter because her acerbic and fiercely partisan political posts simultaneously offended millions who do not share her “progressive” views and gave away access to her writing and thinking to those who didn’t mind the bad language and uncharitable posturing.

Ceasing to post on twitter, in other words, would create scarcity for those hanging on her every word while at the same time allowing those on her political right and left the time necessary to forget their differences with her and return to thinking of her as “just the Harry Potter lady” with all the fun memories of the reading and film experiences they enjoyed. All these groups, be they the unquestioning fans, the super-vigilant police of the Politically Correct, or those who voted (egad!) for Brexit or Trump, would be more likely to buy Gold Memberships if she would just shut up for, say, ten months, if not the indefinite future.

Considering the blows being delivered to her brand via over-exposure late last year, her commitment to her legacy charities, and the lack of any effectiveness of her tweets in moving those not already convinced to share her position, I doubt Rowling, if this ‘follow the money’ explanation of her departure from twitter has any relationship with reality, would have wept at the cost to her of following the advice. She gets her life as a writer back, her critics are effectively silenced for lack of new material, and there is the promise of a huge payday by the holidays.

Say 1% of her twitter followers become Gold Members of the new Harry Potter Fan Club at That would be 147,000 people who pay $75 each year for the foreseeable future to get worthless pins and inducements to purchase or visit other products and properties or just over $11 million annually. Now go ahead and use more realistic figures, say 5% or 10%, and do the math. Volant Charities and Lumos will be funded in perpetuity and Rowling’s remarkable goals of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis and of placing institutionalized children into homes with families have that much more chance of becoming reality.

And perhaps this is the best way to think about all this for those of us who find the $75 cost of access to Rowling’s Potter material more than a little galling, which is to say, make it a contribution to her charities rather than to Rowling, Inc.

What are your thoughts? Does this ‘twitter silence due to maximizing monetization’ theory pass the smell test? Will you be paying the $75 fee? Do you think Rowling will ever return to daily tweeting?