Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On Tolerance and Harry Potter Books

Regular readers of my blog know I LOVE HARRY POTTER books and I’m a huge fan of J.K. Rowling and I know many many many Harry Potter fans who are super neat people. So when a party I follow on Twitter recently posted a link to an article about how some recent studies are showing that readers of Harry Potter books are less prejudiced and more accepting of others, I had to stop and look. I felt giddy to see that the researchers, who might love Harry Potter as much as I do, took the time to conduct this Harry Potter-themed study, and I’m glad that their results showed the positive effects of reading the books.

However, while I read the article, I remembered something I saw in the news around 2005, when the Internet buzzed about which lucky girl would be cast as Cho Chang, Harry Potter’s first crush, in the GOBLET OF FIRE movie. The plum role went to the lovely Katie Leung, a Scottish actress with Asian ancestry. Unfortunately, some Harry Potter fans who were unhappy with the casting choice attacked Katie online with rude and racist comments and hate sites. So while I’m pleased that the aforementioned study has shown some people can learn tolerance from reading Harry Potter books, there is pre-existing evidence showing that not all readers and fans of the Harry Potter stories are free of prejudice.

My “other side of the coin” sentiments aren’t meant to be criticism of the researchers or the study itself. Because really, it sounded like a fun project. It’s just that…as much as many others and I love books and have experienced the comfort and enrichment from reading a good book, I'm also aware that not everyone will be affected or enlightened by what they read, even if the book is an amazing work.

So I tweeted back to the party and condensed these thoughts into two posts of 140 characters each. And then I thought about it and….I deleted my tweets. I didn’t do this because I was playing backsies with my tweets but because I realized that in order to fully articulate how I was really feeling about this topic, I should blog about it here instead.

Tell me about a book that affected or enlightened you. 


Pat Hatt said...

People do get in a huff when books, comics, etc. characters are turned into a different ethnicity. They need to get over it, attacking the person is dumb. The studio makes the call. Good to know many are accepting though.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I have to wonder if the people who posted racist, hateful remarks about Katie Leung were *really* Harry Potter fans or just trolls? How could a real HP fan not know that Cho Chang was of Asian ancestry?

Rather than share a book that enlightened me, let me tell you about a photo I saw in a news article last night. Some Australians have banded together to protect their Muslim fellow citizens from backlash after the hostage incident that happened this week, offering #Illridewithyou -- to accompany Muslims on public transport if they feel threatened or afraid to wear their religious garb.

As this spread on Twitter, someone shared a photograph taken in Sarajevo, 1941, that shows a Muslim woman in a jihab using her veil to hide the yellow star on the coat of another woman as they walk down the street together. #Illridewithyou, in reverse, 1941-style. That moved me.

Chrys Fey said...

I adored Katie Leung! She was pretty and soft-spoken. It's funny how upset people can be when they don't like the actor/actress chosen to portray a character. I bet all of her haters (or at least most of them) ended up liking her while watching the movies. ;)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's terrible people attacked her. She was fine in the role. I think that speaks as much about how obsessed people get with a pre-determined image in their head as it does prejudice.

Tammy Theriault said...

Ah dang, I'm like no don't delete it! I'm pretty surprised people have that much time to hate on someone merely for their ancestry. wow. sad.

Emily R. King said...

Wow. I didn't know they did that to poor Katie.

I enjoy Marie Lu's books, as well as Julie Kagawa's. They both incorporate their Asian heritage into their characters and I love it.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I had a discussion sort of related to this today. I was thinking of the awful rash of hateful statements that burst out when people learned who was cast as Rue in Hunger Games. I've heard a lot of negativity about the Annie remake, too, and it makes me sad. I had no idea about the girl playing Cho Chang.

Julie Dao said...

That's an interesting study, but a pretty huge generalization. I'd say HP fans are like any other demographic...you've got your nice normal people, your racists, etc. I remember that "controversy" when they cast Cho. Really pathetic to strike out at a poor actress who simply got the role and didn't look EXACTLY the way they wanted her to.

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