Monday, October 22, 2007

Sex, Power and Albus Dumbledore II

There was no reason to make Dumbledore gay and doing so seriously harms the character. Why did Rowling feel that she had to give Dumbledore a sexual side? The fact that she felt that Dumbledore must have a sexual side, to me, shows a fundamental misunderstanding, on the part of Rowling, as to nature of fantasy.
In fantasy characters are faced with temptations beyond mere sex. In the Twilight series, Bella asks Edward if vampires were capable of having sex as humans do. Edward responds: “… most of those human desires are there, just hidden behind more powerful desires.” (Twilight pg. 310) Normal vampires focus on their thirst for blood. The Cullens, who one can argue are meant to stand in for the Ex-Gay movement, are focused on being able to transcend their nature and avoiding causing harm to anyone. I would see this confrontation with power, as encapsulating what happens to almost all characters in fantasy. Fantasy, more than any other genre, is about characters dealing with extreme powers and extreme responsibilities. It is normal in fantasy to have characters, who possess supernatural powers and or find themselves in situations where they quite literally find themselves carrying the fate of the world. Such characters have far greater temptations and far greater concerns than mere sex. As such it makes perfect sense for characters in fantasy to not be particular concerned with sex. Not only that, but to have them become interested in sex “just like any normal person” would in most cases be a letdown.
Take Lord of the Rings for example. I never seriously wondered about the sex lives of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins. If the hobbits had been living in any other genre of fiction the fact that both of these characters live by themselves as bachelors for decades in Bag End would raise questions. What precisely was the nature of Bilbo’s adoption of Frodo? What precisely is Frodo’s relationship with Sam? The reason why I never wondered about such things is because both Bilbo and Frodo have to deal with the Ring of Power. I do not imagine Bilbo and later Frodo, during all the decades that they spend alone in Bag End, scoring on young hobbit girls or boys, jerking off or reading porno. I imagine them obsessing about the Ring. Either sitting around and looking at it or thinking about it. Once the story gets going and Frodo finds the fate of the entire Middle Earth resting on his shoulders and the Ring literally eating his soul out, Frodo is not in a position to consider wither he has sexual feelings for Sam or anyone else in the Fellowship. Sam can still dream about going home and marrying Rosie, destroying the Ring is not his responsibility and the Ring is not destroying his soul. Now imagine if J.R.R. Tolkien would have gotten up in front of a crowd of his adoring hippie fans and told them: You all thought I was some stuffed up professor of Anglo-Saxon but guess what. Frodo was gay and he really had a crush on Sam. So you see I am really a hip person, bravely fighting against the Man. Besides for thinking that Tolkien must have been smoking too much of the hobbit’s pipe-weed, I would feel let down because now the whole character of Frodo makes so much less sense. The whole point of Frodo was that he is finds himself utterly consumed by the quest and his struggle with the Ring. If Frodo is able to take a time out and indulge in having a sexual nature then we have no all consuming struggle and I have no reason to be interested in him.

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