by Peter Franklin
Friday, 18
February 2022
Video
15:40

The New York Times erases JK Rowling

The Grey Lady wants readers to 'imagine Harry Potter without its Creator'
by Peter Franklin

JK Rowling is getting cancelled again. On this occasion it is in the New York Times — or rather in a subway advertisement promoting the publication. 

You can view a longer version of the ad here. It features a person named “Lianna” who tells us all the things that Lianna is (the idea being that these can also be found in the pages of the NYT). For instance, “Lianna is a Harmony of Flavors… a Week in Crossword Land…  the Joy of Getting Lost.”

Good to know. There’s some identity stuff in there too, for instance Lianna is “Breaking the Binary… Queer Love in Color… Heritage in Rich Hues.” It would appear that the Grey Lady is seeking a younger, more diverse, subscriber base. 

Lianna delivers her list in a relaxed, almost wistful, tone of voice, but there’s a shift to a sterner cadence when we’re informed that Lianna is also “Imagining Harry Potter without its Creator.” This item of information is considered so important that it also features in the much shorter subway advertisement. 

The tag line to the ad is “Independent journalism for an independent life.” Strange then, that the only writer referred to is subjected to a deliberate act of erasure. JK Rowling has become ‘she who must not be named’, indeed ‘she who must be expunged in the reader’s imagination from the world that she created’. What’s more, she’s been singled out for the crime of thinking in defiance of a censorious cultural establishment. This is how the NYT chooses to promote its “independent journalism”.

Perhaps even worse than its treatment of Rowling, is what appears to be the implicit message of the advertisement — which is that a reader is the content they consume and vice versa. If that’s true, then no wonder some individuals feel entitled to imagine Harry Potter without its creator. 

But it isn’t true. Reading may be one of the least passive ways of consuming media content, but the fact is that the “Wizarding World” doesn’t need a single reader to (fictionally) exist. It is however entirely dependent on its creator, JK Rowling. Without her, there’d be no Harry Potter for anyone else to imagine. It’s why she gets the royalties and her readers pay them.

The New York Times is going down a dangerous road: an excessive identification with the subjective feelings of its readers — indeed their very sense of who they are. That’s dodgy enough when it comes to fiction, but for independent, objective journalism it is potentially ruinous. 

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
20 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
George Glashan
George Glashan
3 months ago

I’m Imagining the world without the NYT
Luckily for me that’s closer to reality than what the NYT proposes. the one reason I hope Trump doesn’t run this next election , is that he was a crutch to a zombie business model and probably gave them another 5 years of life, please stay at home Mr Trump and let the irrelevant NYT die (dignity optional)

Last edited 3 months ago by George Glashan
George Glashan
George Glashan
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

as a tangent, does any one know if the obese person in the video is a man or a woman? Why does gender ideology even matter when obesity makes these people into androgynous blobs anyway?

James Joyce
James Joyce
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

What a terrible, terrible comment, in that it embraces the binary. Did you not see the cute little thoughts in the ad–Breaking the binary–comes to mind?
Wow! Why was this comment, which by it’s terms seems to embrace only two genders or sexes or whatever the in vogue term is, not immediately flagged?
At the very least, you should have included a trigger warning in bold at the top of your comment. Have you no decency, sir?

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

It is not just overeating that make people obese. I so hope you never have an illness where your medication makes you become grossly overweight and should you find yourself in such a position, I do hope others are more sympathetic to your position that you are to others. Hateful little man!

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

And what percentage of people are obese from overeating as opposed to other reasons? 99.9%?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

MAGA President Trump. The NYT and its minions out to ‘Make America Broken’ need to be fought. Your idea of just ignore them and they will go away is not reasonable as they are a barbarian hoard at the very gates of civilization.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
3 months ago

This is just beyond parody. Even Kafka couldn’t have thought this up.
’Progressives’, ‘Liberals’, or whatever label they adopt to lay claim to enlightenment, have become so viciously puritanical about the primacy of their beliefs that we now have their flagship newspaper, the NYT, not only cancelling the most successful woman author in the world but decoupling the writer from what they have written.
A newspaper that pays people to write about their views, denies the rights, the existence even of writers.
And their advert boasts this is independent thinking, following a cancel mob to burn the witch. Incredible.

Julia H
Julia H
3 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

It’s entirely consistent with decoupling the xx chromosome, the uterus, ovaries and vagina from the definition of ‘woman’. They think you can have the desired thing (womanhood, Harry Potter) without any of the essential component parts. They are fantasists, but dangerous ones.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
3 months ago

It’s a terrible ad for what is meant to be the paper of record. As in, “do you prefer an imagined world to the real one? Then the New York Times sure is for you.” All the news that fits our views, etc.

James Joyce
James Joyce
3 months ago

Once again, a huge disconnect between the headline and the content of the article–all 9 short ¶¶. It’s not really about JK Rowling.
I see it as a “Stations of the Cross” for the woke religion, and yes, it’s ironic that another of today’s articles, The problem with ant-woke liberals, had a discussion that primarily focused on whether wokeness is a religion.
Most of this is woke tosh, devoid of meaning, platitudes for Gen X or Z or Millenials, whatever they are now: What does horror taste like? The joy of getting lost. Are people her age so shallow, so superficial? Apparently so.
It’s the tag line that I object to (“Independent journalism for an independent life.” What The Times produces is not independent and not journalism at all–it is advocacy, advocacy of the most extreme woke doctrines.
I’ve suggested a better tag line. Surely UnHerd readers can come up with their own, but mine is:
All the woke propaganda we can shove down your throat!
Perhaps it would be better to include something that goes against the “independence” theme. UnHerd readers, give it a go!
I used to work at the Grey Lady. Though this was long before social media, the idea that “journalists” could have public opinions that they would share on radio or TV was unthinkable–literally unthinkable. It wasn’t done and couldn’t be imagined.
It took me a long time to realise that this actually the case. I remember being actually shocked at hearing Times reporters such as Helene Cooper on NPR (US equivalent of BBC, and yes, I used to listen, even contribute [both $ and commentary] many years ago), expressing her opinions about her beat–NOT her “expertise,” her opinions. I was stunned.
The New York Times is going down a dangerous road: an excessive identification with the subjective feelings of its readers — indeed their very sense of who they are.
The Times is not going down this road, it is far along and speeding up.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

You Will Be Assimilated
Oldthinkers Unbellyfeel Ingsoc
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
In Space Nobody Can Hear You Scream

James Joyce
James Joyce
3 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Excellent suggestions, especially the last one!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Tag Line? Surely it would be:

‘All the Trump Voters are to the first up against the wall once we take over the Government.’

I mean – aren’t they the the mouth of a army out to destroy America? May as well use a militant tag line which says what it means to do.

Julia H
Julia H
3 months ago

‘Lianna is wondering what it must be like to be the creator of Harry Potter and to be respected by millions of people around the world, and is feeling very jealous indeed.’

Last edited 3 months ago by Julia H
MJ Reid
MJ Reid
3 months ago

It is pathetic that younger adults cannot accept people have a wealth of opinions and that they are all valid. JK Rowling’s books are only here because she wrote them. I have tried hard to read them but find the experience like walking through treacle. But that doesn’t stop me from admiring the woman who wrote them and who stands for other women on a daily basis. “Lianna” and other people like “Lianna” need to go experience life as it really is for the majority of people, then just maybe they will realise that pontificating as they do just makes them look petty, mean minded and somewhat stupid.

Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
3 months ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

as an adult, Lianna needs to stop hoping for a systematic and unanimous validation of Lianna’s entire existence just for the simple act of existing.
And even if Lianna really needs this validation, it needs to stop being at the expense of others.
Funny how an “open” person can be so closed to other views and ideas.

Storm B
Storm B
3 months ago

Ha! This sort of approach has been in the LIT departments at the academies for decades … See Roland Barthes The Death of the Author essay from mid last century. The reader is the creator now. God died in 19th century. The Author died 20th century. Who’s next?

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago

If the NYT is advertising on the tube then you know it’s doomed.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 months ago

Most under40s don’t read books anymore. You disagree? You mean you and your circle read. Men don’t read fiction and a vanishingly small number read literary fiction. Again you disagree? Means your Uncle Robert sometimes reads fiction. You can google some stats if you want. As for Potterdom- aimed at 12-16 yr olds. Adult women arguing and angsting over this tells you something about them doesn’t it?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
3 months ago

Yes, but this is philosophically very interesting. I mean, on the surface it strikes us as just another bat-shoot crazy example of Woke-ism, juiced up to its risible extreme.
But consider the implication: Imagining Harry Potter without its creator is like imagining what it means to be human without God.
First Woke-ism promised to unshackle us from the strictures of biological gender. Now the quasi-religion dares to attempt the ultimate leap – the promise of unshackling the human psyche from the strictures of mortality, thereby allowing it to become a Nietzschean kind of ÜberThey/Them.