Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Regarding candy, and Dumbledore...

Yet another important food discovery this week: bags of small candy bars are an exquisitely bad idea for me. I thought (quite logically I might add) that a bag of tiny Heath bars would be better to keep in my desk than going to the vending maching once a day to retrieve a Heath bar in its entirety for 75 cents. "Hey," I said to myself, "You know, I don't necessarily want a whole candy bar when I go to the vending machine. I just want a little sweet taste of toffee and chocolate. But then I have this whole bar and I feel like I need to eat it all. The perfect solution would be these!" And then I grab this bag of tiny Heath bars off the shelf in the candy aisle of Bi-Lo. Sounds good in theory, right? Sure it does. Sure. But you know, I bet a lot of things sounded good in theory, and then the results of their execution left much to be desired. Things like shoulder pads in women's shirts in the 80's. Bringing back mustard yellow, burnt orange and avacado green as acceptable (and even trendy) decorating colors. The Soviets parking their nuclear warheads in Cuba back in the sixties. Jar-Jar Binks.

Wait, I can't see Jar-Jar ever being a good idea, in theory or otherwise. BLECH!!

Anyway, so I discovered that having a bag of Heath bars in the desk is non-productive. Counterproductive, even. What I'm really trying to say is that I'm grazing from my own desk drawer like some kind of psychotic zombiefied corporate america bovine. Moo, motherfucker. Moo.

No more tiny Heath bars for me!!

In other news... wait, is there other news? Let me think... hmmm... ok, well, whatever, I'll just make shit up for a while, how does that sound? Or I could just talk about my minimally boring life for a while. On second thought, I'd like to state an opinion here, in the short version:

Dumbledore is queer! That's awesome. I have a few reservations about it, but overall I can't be more pleased to have someone so cool hanging out on my side of the fence.

Now, for the long version: People, stop being all verclempt about Dumbledore liking hot man love. Can you really imagine him in the arms of a woman? He's someone who, for the entirety of the series, was a strong, almost invulnerable character. He always knew what to do, what to say, who to talk to, what spell to cast, which remedy would work, et cetera, et cetera, world without end, hallelujah, amen. He was our Gandalf, our Yoda. Can you really imagine him becoming vulnerable enough with someone to give her his heart? For that matter, can you really imagine him giving ANYone his heart? Do you think Yoda got his sexual groove on with a lady salamander along his long road to Jedi Master? No. No, I just can't see it.

Dumbledore, in my mind, is much the same way as Yoda - asexual, not bi, homo, or heterosexual. He had his heart broken when he was young, and decided that he would never be hurt that way again. He closed himself off to romantic love and dedicated the rest of his life to other pursuits, and it's lucky for the wizarding world that he did. No wonder he was such a sad figure at times - lonely, shut off emotionally, enigmatic on purpose. I feel kind of sorry for him.

There are a lot of people in the gay community that aren't too happy with this "announcement" of Dumbledore's sexual persuasion. (There are a lot of people in the straight community that aren't, either, but their arguments are a lot more predictable.) I've heard, "Why didn't he actually say something about it in the books? Why would she capitalize on that now? She's had seven books and five movies to tell us about this... why couldn't there be something in print about it?" Well, my friends, as a writer, let me step in for a moment to share something with you... the fact that Dumbledore was gay just didn't fit in to the story. What's that? It doesn't matter, you say? Well, take it from a writer: hell yes it does.

Sometimes readers don't understand that a story directs itself, and all we do as writers is tell you what we see in our brains to the best of our abilities. We have to be true to our stories and our characters. Would Dumbledore have told Harry he was gay? Would he have shared that fact with anyone, really? He had been hurt and his heart was broken and he turned his mind away from that time of his life every chance he could. We didn't even find out about that time for him until the very last book, and even the things we found out were few and far between. Dumbledore was far too dignified to display what would clearly be such an emotional topic. And remember, kids, that 98% of the story is narrated from Harry's point of view. Why would he need to know such an intimate thing about Dumbledore? It speaks for the man's discretion that he held back on most of his personal life, including this. It just doesn't make sense for him to have "come out" in the plot of the books. This was not a story about Dumbledore; it was a story about Harry.

That being said, I'm sure you're thinking, "Well, why should she say it at all, then? The books are written, the movies are made. What's the point of bringing it up?" The answer is, readers, that J.K. Rowling was being truthful with one of her fans - the child asked, "Did Dumbledore ever have a special lady friend?" to which she responded, "Well, I've always thought of Dumbledore as gay." No press conferences. No fanfare. No flourish of trumpets. Just an honest answer to a simple question. It wasn't set up as a political statement. It was just a fact. You have to remember that once you've created a character as a writer that character takes on a life of its own, and as a writer it's your job to know as much as you can about that character and keep a record of it, either by writing it down or keeping it in a loose mental file. It's just what you do as a writer. Somewhere down the line of these seven books, Albus told her he fell in love with Grindelwald and had his heart broken. There was no political statement to be made - it was just a fact.

I have to admire her for telling the truth about him. Many people won't understand, many people will think it's a publicity stunt. But I really believe that she was just telling the truth about this man, and we as readers now have one more dimension made clear to us about this enigmatic individual. As for me, I'm pleased to hear it.

Now that I've said all that - perhaps the Potter Puppet Pals might want to rethink their portrayal of Dumbledore as a wizard that thoroughly enjoys "Nakey Time!!!!!". Less fundamentalists in your face is always better than more. Take it from someone who knows - hey, I live in the South, remember? In the buckle of the Bible belt. Mazel Tov!


At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

Nice notes on character and their role in stories, it's the honest truth. Readers are greedy though, I know I can be, so I see the "Why isnt it in print!" attitude too. And as I say to Gail: "Be patient, the story will unfold." If it unfolds without that tidbit, so be it. But the writer in me also thinks...she has another idea brewing.



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