Last week, we discussed ambivalence within the Harry Potter fandom regarding the latest film in the franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the film continues to draw criticism and inspire meta. In an article for The Daily Dot, fandom writer Gavia Baker-Whitelaw discussed What ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and Grindelwald mean for the future of queer representation in ‘Harry Potter’:
Although Dumbledore’s sexuality was ambiguous in the Harry Potter books, Rowling later confirmed that he’s gay, and that he fell in love with the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald when both were in their late teens. It’s unclear whether Grindelwald reciprocated his feelings, but this backstory puts an interesting spin on Grindelwald’s role in Fantastic Beasts. Much of his screentime is dedicated to a compelling yet disturbing relationship with Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), a young outcast whom he cruelly manipulates during scenes with an obvious gay subtext.
While Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s backstory sows the seeds for a fascinating dynamic in later movies, it’s also a problematic setup for such a groundbreaking example of queer representation. Grindelwald is either a predatory queer villain, or a character whose villainhood was introduced via queer subtext.
Grindelwald’s casting was itself hugely controversial, as the wizard is being played by Johnny Depp, who has been accused of abusing his recent ex-wife, actress Amber Heard..
Old school Harry Potter fans, have issues within the expanded universe forced you from the fandom, or do you accept the problematic elements within your favourite works? Let us know in the comments.
On the topic of leaving a fandom, Matt Goldberg wrote for Colider this week about Why ‘Final Fantasy XV’ Is a Lesson in Letting Go of Fandom. Goldberg details his own fannish history as it relates to the popular video game franchise (which occupies a place in my own fond memories of adolescence) and the sorry of abandoning a fandom that you’ve accepted as part of yourself:
Our embrace of certain franchises becomes a part of our identity, especially when it comes to nostalgia. I don’t know if Final Fantasy VII would hold up if I played it again today (and I have mixed feelings about the remake that’s in development), but I know that going forward, I don’t have much interest in what lies ahead for the franchise.
What fandoms have you left behind? Share your story in the comments.
Of course, it isn’t easy to say goodbye to any fandom that’s claimed your heart. At the National Post, Calum Marsh wonders Why do we continue to be held captive by TV that is no longer satisfying? Marsh argues that it’s ‘a kind of TV Stockholm Syndrome’ that convinces us that shows we dislike but continue to watch have improved over time:
What are we saying when we suddenly declaim the excellence of a long-running but never especially distinguished series? Maybe the writers really did strike gold after years or happen at last upon the ideal rhythm. Maybe a bad show got good. Or maybe we just developed a certain affection for characters and we’ve spent literally days of our lives getting to know them. Maybe after a hundred hours in the company of Rick Grimes and his zombie-surviving brigade I can’t evaluate episode 89 as an impartial judge.
Think about the programmes that you grew to love over time—have they actually improved, or have you simply grown attached to the characters? Or, more painfully, what formerly excellent shows have fallen apart but still claim your loyalty? Tell us in the comments (we promise we won’t judge).
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