With the dust having momentarily settled, Lachlan Mitchell takes a look at just what happened to J.K Rowling this year.
The fall of J.K Rowling has been rather spectacular to behold over the last few months – while she has been well-known in certain circles for a number of years for her viewpoints on trans women, her overworked publicist had the Herculean labour of putting out the line that the recent tweet she liked was an accident, or she didn’t endorse the views of the blog post she had retweeted, that it was all an accident. Even when December of last year unambiguously betrayed her viewpoints, J.K’s refrain was that this consistent pattern was just something we had been reading into, it was not reflective of her true views at all, silly teens.
But something broke in Notably Permanently Online Billionaire J.K Rowling this year. Whether or not it was a physical breakage, like the connective tissue between the hemispheres of the brain, remains to be seen. But she had seen enough, she’d had enough. No longer satisfied with just the quiet confidence in knowing that she has a hateful little secret that only she truly knew the depths of, she chose the first week of the Minnesota riots and the height of the initial COVID-19 panic to relay her great fears of the Dangers of Transgenderism. Mask off. No more lies! Fuck trans women! Stop, woah, back it up now, let me see that TERF tweet! While no publicist and marketing agency can truly control their client – and even so, the perception of being ‘cancelled’ is an entire career in itself these days – it is hard to imagine that she received encouragement from the business side of her life. So where did the support come from? It’s easy to mock her, easy to wholly designate her descent into bigotry for what it is – an abyss that won’t stop staring back at her, an inability to let go of one’s own inadequacies, and projecting those endless anxieties and fears onto others. But Joanne’s distinctly online explosion makes this far more interesting to look at, as it allows a glimpse into those that encourage such actions.
For those of us who aren’t exactly on Mr. Culture War’s Wild Ride and either don’t have an online presence or are simply out of the loop now that the media cycle has moved on, a quick recap. J.K Rowling’s overall belief system lies in the idea of trans people, with an insistence on trans women in particular, are pretenders making a claim to the inalterable truth of womanhood – you are born that way, and only through certain innate biological processes (i.e menstruation) can you prove yourself as a woman without question. In short, women are defined solely by their vaginas and associated reproductive functions – if you don’t have a fully-functional coochie, die. While troubling – if common amongst her age & class group – and full of horseshit, this ideology was expressed through the veneer of ‘discourse’, and did not initially start the firestorm. The uproar began when J.K Rowling started sharing classic ‘predatory men in dresses in bathrooms with children’ myths, as well an entire essay on the equally bonkers claims over hormone therapy being equivalent to anti-gay conversion therapy, and vicious implications that people with autism do not have the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves, amongst many other claims that have been roundly disproven.
Faced with overwhelming disapproval, she did not bend. O’, the humble reed did not give in to the mighty river, standing firm in the face of crushing condemnation. Instead, she merely ramped up the rhetoric. It was not her that was in the wrong, for we were simply misinterpreting her words – the gnashing of fangs was the true oppression. Like the similarly double initialled D.W Griffith over a century prior, she set out to show the true Intolerance: not tolerating her! But why has she doubled down in the last few months?
Have you ever heard of Graham Linehan? Pretty famous Irish bloke, created and/or wrote for plenty of turn of the millennium sitcom hits, such as Father Ted and The IT Crowd. Hailed as a transitional figure in British television. But if you’ve heard of him in the last few years, it will almost certainly be over his transformation into a reactionary gremlin that near-exclusively tweets about transgender people, again with a focus on trans women, and boldly creating such Shitposting Classics like the transgender rights movement is ‘something terrible like Nazism’, before spending 6 to 8 hours digging the cheese out of his dickhole for ripe consumption. And yet, like Gollum, he was once a man – known for a staunch defense of the NHS, and later on, pro-choice abortion reform, even.
Like Linehan pre-suspension, J.K Rowling is well-known for her constant usage of Twitter, acting as her primary source of information gathering and communication with the public – Pottermore fell to the wayside the moment she discovered the platform in the early 2010s. She is on it 20 something hours a day, and by choice, is surrounded by anti-trans material designed by Twitter’s algorithm to facilitate something close to Hate Addiction, like my unwilling exposure to Chrissy Teigen. However, in the wake of the firestorm around her TERF rhetoric, the language of those responding to her was flagged by the algorithm as being hateful and/or aggressive, and was pushed down under the far nicer commentary – the words that expressed enthusiastic support, and encouraged the crusade against trans people, commentary organised by wider anti-trans movements that saw Rowling as a prize to claim, one that would provide their movement with a modicum of respectability. Rowling became the target of organised ‘lovebombing’ – the practice of manipulation and capturing one’s self-esteem for your own usage, through bombarding the person with excessive adoration and veneration. Within days of her 2020 outbursts, her words increasingly echoed the exact linguistic structure of the organised TERF crowd – even if she had been relatively calm-minded in her thoughts on trans women, it was clear that the sheer contrast in responses had successively tricked her into believing the ‘when the world is against you, stand tall’ mentality was applicable here.
When you attain a certain level of unimaginable wealth, when your career has plateaued and the highlights are distant objects in the rearview mirror, you become detached from the reason most are forced to wake up in the morning – to make money, and attain the means to survive. Your only economic concerns become about how to further hoard your wealth, and your day-to-day existence becomes about avoiding the ennui of life without a driving purpose. By that point, stagnation does not begin to cover it. Your social views, unchallenged by sycophants and people dependent on your wealth for their lifestyle, become your way of remaining attached to the world – when your own security is assured, the security of others becomes your realm to dissect and reflect on, and ultimately, enforce your will upon. Lovebombing just exacerbates the already broken mentalities of these ‘born to rule’ losers. In the past, these people would mostly get tuberculosis and die at 48, or dote on their failsons until suffering a stroke trying to grope their 19 year old nurse. But now we have Twitter, and the culture war is enough to stimulate the neurons in an otherwise rotting brain. To be Permanently Online is something available to all; in billionaires like J.K Rowling, the algorithmically-enforced, almost alchemically created, bitterness is all that I suspect keeps her going.
Well, that and having enough money to laser-carve a pussy hat effigy into the moon. That helps too.