Monday, October 22, 2007

Gay, You Say...

So, J.K. Rowling came out this weekend at a fan convention and stated that Albus Dumbledore was gay.

Dave, over at BadArt has a good post on the subject.

I have a couple of thoughts on the subject:

1. I think it's debatable. Sure, she's the writer, and she created him, so it's largely her call. But she didn't include it in the text, so as the reader, I can make up whatever I want. I made this point over at Badart, if J.D. Salinger came out today and said Holden Caulfield's problems came from him being a closeted homosexual, I think that would be debated.

I've disagreed with artists on their own work before. George Lucas altered a moment in Star Wars 'A New Hope,' when, in the re-release, he had Han Solo firing second, in response to Greedo firing first, in the cantina scene. The original has Solo firing first, under the table, killing Greedo before he has a chance to fire. He stated that he never thought Solo would fire first, that was to cold-blooded for a character like Han Solo. First, Lucas contradicts himself within the movie. Han Solo plans to shoot down a Tie-Fight later, when the pilot has not fired on him. Second, he diminishes Solo's journey from scoundrel pirate to self sacrificing hero, betraying himself as an artist who may not understand his own work.

2. The actor playing Dumbledore has only now been given this information.
"In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!"
An actor can waste alot of time trying to figure out what history a writer was thinking about for the character they are playing. I say waste because you can often never know. The actor must choose for themselves, and the best actors create a strong back story for themselves. What the writer intended may not always elicite the strongest performance from an actor. They change it to suit their performance. Sometimes this is called, personalizing your character. If Dumbledore being gay helps? Great, use it. If not, throw it out. At this point, other than specific script stuff, I'm not sure it matters at all to the actor who will play him.

3. If Dumbledore being gay is important, than why leave it out? Obviously, it would hurt books sales. Or, probably it wouldn't. But it would have created controversy, and maybe she just didn't want to deal with it. Anyway, she left it out, despite it's seeming importance. She has avoided a controversy, but she has also avoided the potential for making a rather significant, positive cultural impact. I fear that this indicates a weakness in her writing.

I believe that Sci-Fi and Fantasy can inform, influence, describe and positively affect us, just as any art form can. I'm pretty sure, the first interracial television kiss was on Star Trek. This had an impact, forcing viewers to think about the subject. The recent Marvel Comics story line, Civil War, which some of you may have heard of, led to the death of Captain America and the permanent unmasking of Spiderman. What I found most exciting , and enjoyed best, about the series is it examination of our post 9/11 world.

(Quickly, a fight between super people leads to an explosion and the death of over 600, normal men, women and children. This begins a movement to get superpeople to register with the government or be classified as illegal vigilantes, thrown in a prison outside the U.S., without trial.)

Civil War wasn't a unique idea, but given my description above and moments like Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) placing an elongated hand on Iron Man shoulder and imploring him to, 'Stay the course,' it's comparisons and similarities to our current situation here and abroad is undeniable. And you know who is reading these comics, besides 33 year-old guys like me? Kids. Kids of all ages. Civil War takes a real, horrifying thing like 9/11 and the war in Iraq and places it into a form a child can access. Think about. Judge. Explore.

A book series as wildly popular as Harry Potter, creating and examining an openly gay character, could have introduced millions of children to the possibility that homosexuality isn't the plague it is sometimes made out to be. Those millions of kids would pass the book onto their children, as I will, and they would be given the opportunity to explore this subject.

It's to bad really. She's takes on classism, racism, death, murder, adolescence, adolescent sexuality, betrayal, the afterlife, school, the power of love and a few other worthy topics. Giving her young readers alot to mull over in their heads and chew on. It's unfortunate that she avoids this subject till it's to late to benefit them.

She may have sold less books, or gotten more crap from the extremists, but she also might have made an even bigger, more positive, difference by being brave enough to bring it up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Parental Philosophy

Most parents I know walk around most of the time with an extreme inner conflict. A question they keep repeating, silently, to themselves, 'Am I doing the right thing?' In almost all criticism, deep down inside of the critic, this question persists. In most parents criticism of other parents this question is loudest.

I recently received two compliments that indicate we might be doing some things right.

As I was walking home after dropping Philip off at kindergarten, one of the mother's who has a son in his class noticed that I didn't have Patrick with me. The Wife is still on maternity leave, I had left him and Mary Kate home with her, I told her. She said we seemed like a good team. That was nice to hear. You can only put so much stock in the perception of others when it comes to your marriage and the raising of your children, but it still made me mildly proud. We are a good team. We work at it and I'm glad it shows.

The second compliment came from another mother, later that week, with a girl in Philip's class. She had worked the class as a volunteer assistant. At the end of the day, she told me, Philip had come up to her and thanked her for coming and helping in class. I guess he was the only student to thank her. She wanted to let me know that I had a very polite son. This made me very proud. It's important to us that our children respect others and behave in a proper way around them. In my opinion, there is far to much inconsiderate behavior in all walks of life.

Like I said, ultimately, you keep you own counsel when it comes to raising your kids. Still though, I'm glad my son is picking up what we are laying down.

And now some pics of the baby.

Mary Katherine smiling in her sleep.

So, Mary Kate is doing well. She had had a horrifying diaper rash for a few weeks. It looks like someone had dragged her behind a car. Everything is better now. She's sleeping well, waking once, maybe twice, a night.

Kisses from big brother, Patrick.

The Boys continue to be attentive and gentle with Mary Kate. They can't wait to play with her. We caught Philip the other day holding her properly, just like we showed him. The problem was, he had picked her up out of her basket, carried her to the couch himself. Without supervision. Without asking us. She was fine, but she's still alittle fragile to be picked up by Philip. Still, no harm. No foul.