I am beginning to sense a well-engineered scandal is brewing here over J.K. Rowling’s new book.
The author of “Harry Potter”, shortly after a big falling out with the trans lobby, published a book in which the murderer in the thriller is a transvestite.
Writing under the pseudonym “Robert Galbrait”, she has been producing a series of detective stories about the detective Cormoran Strike, with “Troubled Blood” the fifth in the series.
It has been attacked in reviews in Britain’s Daily Telegraph for transphobia because the villain in the book is a fetishist who dresses up in women’s clothes.
Trans activists have raised an alarm that Rowling should not be creating such characters at a time when the number of trans suicides is rising. She has previously been criticized for saying that only women have periods, which is now considered a thought crime.
Rowling is probably not a fighter for free speech who is trying to use a scandal to get free publicity for her book. She was herself a campaigner for political correctness, so it’s ironic that she is now to face the guillotine in another phase of a revolution she and others unleashed.
Despite that fact, we need to avoid condemning her new book.
The actions against Rowling actually could be a serious attempt to cancel an important part of a tradition in movies that links elements of horror with thrillers. Such a canceling would have more impact than the Oscar diversity quotas saga, which will not change anything other than discredit the award itself.
The author is not original in putting her character into drag. Hitchcock did this in “Psycho”, with the iconic character Norman Bates dressing up as his mother. Brian de Palma did something similar in “Dressed to Kill” and Jonathan Demme did it too in “Silence of the Lambs”.
There are plenty of other less notable films which used the technique as well.
Is “cancel culture” going to make all of that off limits? Will it not be allowed to show any ethnic or gender minority in a negative light? Will the murderer in any thriller always have to be White, straight man?
The logic of any revolution is always to be moving to the next stage. It must bring about permanent change all the time and be like a snowball, growing bigger as it rolls down hill.
It is a relief that the remake of the film “Candyman” — with its mythical black scarecrow murderer — has not already been cancelled, perhaps because it was made by a Black woman. I fear that a White director would never attempt to make such a film.
Maybe Quentin Tarantino, a great fan of both de Palma and Hitchcock, knows what he is doing by deciding to end his career after his last film.