Russian president Vladimir Putin signaled allyship with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, saying that the criticism she’s received for her increasingly vicious attacks on trans people is evidence of the same “cancel culture” that is now trying to “cancel” Russia.
Putin claimed that Rowling, who is still enjoying the production of Harry Potter content and has more money now than most of us could imagine, as well as a massive platform and influence, was canceled “just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights.”
Will this wake Rowling up to the fact that she’s on the wrong side of history and should just leave trans people alone? Unlikely, as she did not demonstrate a hint of self-awareness in her response.
“Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics,” she tweeted after Putin made his statement.
She’s not wrong in that working against a despot who ordered a brutal invasion of a neighboring country involving war crimes like bombing hospitals and attacking refugee routes is not “canceling” the country the guy is in charge of. In fact, many people in nations considered to be part of the global “West” have condemned attacks on Russia as a whole and speaking out against prejudice against regular Russian people, many of whom oppose the war.
“They’re now trying to cancel our country,” Putin said. “I’m talking about the progressive discrimination of everything to do with Russia — this trend that is unfolding in a number of Western states.”
What didn’t seem to click with Rowling is that if Vladimir Putin is coming to your defense and saying that you and him are the same, you took a wrong turn somewhere in your life and should reevaluate your moral standing. Especially considering the fact that Putin himself launched a massive homophobic and transphobic campaign in his country, leading to serious physical violence against anyone daring to be out in public.
Putin’s remarks also further show the absurdity behind the entire concept of “cancel culture,” which doesn’t seem to have any meaning anymore, merely being a weapon that extremely rich and privileged people can throw out as a blanket defense to any harm they do. Referring to massive sanctions upon a nation engaging in a widely condemned war declared illegal by every international authority as “canceling” a whole country is just a new peak in the overall weirdness of this phenomenon.
At the same time, it’s another case of powerful people claiming their fellow powerful people, who are still raking in money and social media followers like they grow on trees, have been “canceled” when the consequences of their bigotry have been negligible.
Rowling is doing just fine, and in fact recently enjoyed the launch of a new Harry Potter video game, Hogwarts Legacy. She has not lost a substantial amount of money nor has she been imprisoned even though it was found that a lead designer for the game used to run an “alt-right” anti-social justice YouTube account. Oh, and the game is about putting down a rebellion of the very banker goblins that got Rowling accused of antisemitism due to the fact that the big-nosed money-controlling goblins appear to rely heavily on rank antisemitic stereotypes.
But she still gets to enjoy positive press for dunking on Putin. She’s about as “canceled” as Dave Chappelle or Joe Rogan.