If you talk about Harry Potter online or the upcoming game Hogwarts Legacy you might be surprised by the reaction you'll get from a lot of people: disgust, anger, derision, and more. Many are even campaigning to boycott the release of Hogwarts Legacy and shaming folks who don't agree. All of this begs the question: what's going on?
Not to worry, because in this article we'll explain why everyone is so angry about Harry Potter and Hogwarts Legacy.
J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter
The meat of the issue here doesn't really have much to do with Harry Potter or the game Hogwarts Legacy. It has to do with the original writer and creator of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling.
For a long time, J.K. Rowling has been known as a feminist and advocate for female empowerment. However, over the course of the last decade, Rowling's brand of feminism has intersected with another popular progressive movement: transgender rights.
Essentially, Rowling argues that there are two sexes, male and female, and that sex cannot be changed. So, in Rowling's mind, fighting for women and being a feminist means rejecting transgender women, who are in her view not real women and are thus not fit to be advocated for under the umbrella of feminism. As you might expect, this has been controversial.
Rowling's brand of anti-transgender rhetoric coupled with her identity as a feminist has led many to label her as a TERF, or transgender exclusionary radical feminist. TERFs are, essentially, women who radically advocate for women's rights, female empowerment, and feminism while taking care to exclude all transgender women from the cause, as they don't see them as women but instead as men trying to take advantage of women.
TERFs are widely understood to be transphobic, and ultimately, it's a rather niche, controversial movement that's not particularly large or influential anywhere in the world. Accordingly, Rowling's views have made her something of the mouthpiece for the TERF community and likely the most famous and influential TERF in the world.
Considering that the fanbase of Harry Potter is largely made up of younger, more progressive people that generally support transgender folks and their campaign for equal rights and acceptance in society, this has led to a complicated relationship between fans of Harry Potter with both J.K. Rowling as well as all Harry Potter-related media.
This is what's led many people to be opposed to the release of Hogwarts Legacy, not wanting to support, even in an abstract way, a world that was created by J.K. Rowling and lead to a situation where more money ends up in her pocket. However, this idea quickly can become complicated.
Should You Boycott Hogwarts Legacy or Harry Potter?
On one hand, it makes sense to put your money where your mouth is and not want to spend money on something created by someone who you think is doing harm and hurting people. On another hand, you may be a more conservative person and might not support transgender rights yourself, making the question of whether or not to boycott rather simple.
However, there's also another level of nuance to this discussion, and this comes down to the idea that calling out people or practices you disagree with is separate and distinct from whether or not you buy or consume a particular thing. That can sound complicated, but let's break it down.
For example, if you own a cell phone, which most people in developed countries do, chances are that the cell phone you use was made by either children or people who work long hours in unacceptable working conditions for what many would call an unfairly low wage. However, you don't see most people, or even a large number of people, getting rid of their phones.
Ultimately, life is hard, and one person doesn't have much control over society at large, so denying oneself something to make a statement can be tough to justify, especially if you follow that logic to its natural endpoint. If you get rid of your phone because its production was unethical, does that mean you have to abandon all electronics since almost all technology is created, in some way, unethically overseas?
In terms of art, this concept is most commonly referred to as separating art from artist. You can enjoy a particular piece of music and get something really positive out of it, even if that particular piece of music was composed by someone you don't agree with. While it may well be a moral thing to speak out against creators you don't like, if you start checking every piece of art and every person involved with its creation for unethical or immoral behavior, you'll quickly find that there isn't much music out there for you.
All of this is to say that if a transgender person chooses to not buy a copy of Hogwarts Legacy that J.K. Rowling isn't getting any less famous or becoming any less of a billionaire in the same way that if you as a conservative who doesn't support transgender rights do buy the game, you aren't creating more transgender people or changing how they're viewed in society.
Ultimately, Harry Potter is a franchise and Hogwarts Legacy is a video game. J.K. Rowling already made her money and got her celebrity, and there isn't much that can be done to take that away. If you're a fan of Harry Potter or think an open-world Harry Potter game sounds fun, read the books, watch the movies, and play the game. And if you aren't interested, don't.