8 Out of 10 Cats Surprised that Dumbledore is Gay

October 22, 2007

funny cat picture

It’s the true mark of an important story when it reaches cult site I Can Has Cheezburger? I have my colleague, Mindedit, to thank for bringing this to me, and blame it on the Dark Mark connection between us that I’m posting about this.

My initial response was on the lines of ‘no surprise there’, followed by ‘who cares’? But there’s plenty who do.

Gadgetopia.com pulled out some nice commentary on The Wikipedia War Over Dumbledore’s Sexuality, based on Wikipedia’s Talk:Albus Dumbledorepage. It seems some folk at Wikipedia thought the Dumbledore page was being vandalised, until fictional reality caught up with them: JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay.

The initial refusal to accept even the possibility of internationally-reknowned master wizard and fictional character Dumbledore being gay has found some with a more cynical frame-of-mind, such as Pat Roller in Scotland’s Daily Record.

YOU’VE got to hand it to JK Rowling. She is quite the most skilled exponent ever of the black art of generating headlines.

But we refuse to believe that Dumbledore is gay, no matter what JK is choosing to say now.

If he were, we’d have had Hogwarts The Musical long before now. And, frankly, that frightful decor would simply never have been allowed, not for one minute. Remember those drapes? Pleeease. Nice try, JK. Pull the other one.

Skipping gaily over the camp sarcasm, is there a point?

Apparently, Dumbledore’s sexuality had been a matter of discussion amongst fans for a while, and on a wider level – not everyone reads the Potter books – there’s plenty enough talk of stereotypes and role models, both in literature and cinema. So, does JKR dissemble when she says, “I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy.”?

The issue of subtext is covered well in Kalinara’s blog and comments, but apart from what may or may not have been in the books and whether JKR’s comments after the books are done with should or should not count for interpreting them, there is one overlooked textural reference: the comment she (apparently) wrote on a script draft. This would have been written before her Carnegie Hall talk last Friday. So, unless it was in itself a remarkably well-rehearsed and cynical piece of marketing foreshadowing, this marginalia to change the screenplay could count to show her intentions towards Dumbledore.

That could turn into one valuable script!

Meanwhile, as Jeff Giles points out on Rotten Tomatoes,

Add “the sexual orientation of a deceased fictional character” to the list of things that are apparently capable of dominating an American news cycle in the 21st century.

The headlines will keep rowling on this one. Ho-hum.

Apart from any extra publicity JKR may gain for this, it gives the fans an opportunity to show what wonderfully supportive people they are, both for JKR’s courage (she was in danger of excommunication? bank account confiscation?) and for the ever-fictional Dumbledore, who may now been seen as having a ‘feminine quality’ and being ‘more human’ – or at least the opportunity to get themselves ‘surveyed’ for a little piece of the limelight.

I look forward to seeing comments like theirs on 8 out of 10 Cats, one of the most entertaining UK TV programmes, based on surveys of popular opinion of important issues.

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