Trapped in the Magic Closet

Posted on October 22, 2007

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Watching the morning cable news–MSNBC–as I have been wont to do these past weeks. Thus, I have discovered one of the most urgent breaking news stories. Indeed, it is on par with the fact that Turkey plans to invade our Kurdish enclave in Iraq; that is, if the time alloted to analyzing why we created a nation whose leadership are widely known as terrorists throughout the region, is any measure.

It outweighs in urgency the fact that wildfires are consuming large swaths of Southern California, since MSNBC missed all but the last few seconds of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders’ (“…and that’s it from San Diego”) address to his community.

Oh, how urgent this story! Of far more note than the fact that our opposition candidate agrees to start a war with Iran if she is elected. Of much greater import than the fact that China has bought one of our largest financial companies after it was bloodied by our catastrophic housing market mess. More important even than the fact that Kid Rock got arrested or that Brittany got her kids back!

The story, of course; J.K. Rowling revealed today that the headmaster of the Hogwarts school is gay. And has always been gay.

Just what does this mean for America? MSNBC had a radio talkshow person on to go into the details. The danger here, of course, is exactly the point of the conservative commentator’s main complaint. There is no reason for the character to be gay. It has absolutely no impact on the narrative arc of the book. It is not the secret of the chamber, it is not the magic in the ring, it has nothing to do with what powers the wands. The fact that Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, the head educator and most enduring character of the series is gay, has absolutely no impact on Harry Potter, his family, his friends, the mundies or the trolls who clean up the locker room at night. Just like real life.

And that, MSNBC, is how you report on a breaking story of almost no relevance.