Almost everybody knows the story of The Boy Who Lived: he narrowly escaped Voldemort as a baby, found out he was a wizard on his 11th birthday, then soon after found himself in series of near-death experiences before ultimately defeating the Dark Lord. It’s a much-loved tale of adventure, bravery, friendship and fantasy.
You could say that JK Rowling, the woman behind it all, is the millennial’s answer to Enid Blyton. Although the last book was published a decade ago and the last film premiered in 2011, Harry Potter fans are still as passionate about the wizarding world today as they were upon the initial release. In fact, the world of Harry Potter has expanded in recent years and now the franchise boasts a variety of platforms, including a prequel movie, a play, a studio tour, and a website that still allows fans to be sorted into houses. All of these additions to JK Rowling’s Wizarding World have been happily accepted by fans, but there is one platform that most people are not happy with.
In recent years, #JKRowling has expanded the Harry Potter universe via Twitter. Initially this does not sound like a bad thing. So, what could be wrong with it, you ask? Well, quite a few things.
First, there is the general issue of her choice of social media to share her expansions. Twitter is great for quick, undetailed reveals. Lots of celebrities use Twitter to announce new projects and that is great — Twitter is an excellent way to share news quickly. But is it a good platform to reveal revelations about a much-loved series? No, it's not. Facebook could probably be an acceptable platform for when JK Rowling felt the need to expand upon the world she created. At least Facebook allows users to write more than 140 characters.
That brings us to the next problem: 140 characters is not enough to expand upon a world that spanned seven books and eight films, especially not when Harry Potter has such an incredibly vast fanbase. While answering fans' tweets is somewhat acceptable, revealing huge aspects of a character’s backstory (that nobody requested) is not okay.
Don’t get me wrong, JK Rowling has complete artistic liberty over the entire world of Harry Potter — she did create the characters and the stories that we all love so much. But revealing aspects of characters in such an abrupt form is alienating to the Harry Potter fanbase. For instance, revealing that the name ‘Voldemort’ has a silent T seemed random and a result of boredom: in every film, Voldemort was clearly pronounced as it was spelt, even though Rowling was heavily involved in the making of the films. Surely, if she intended for Voldemort’s name to sound different to the spelling, she would have corrected the actors’ pronunciation at some point?
In theory, giving the fans more information on her characters is a great idea — many fans would probably appreciate learning more about the characters they grew up with. But she should do this via new book, or even via the Pottermore website, not through Twitter. For many fans, Harry, Ron and Hermione became friends, Hagrid became a funny uncle, Dumbledore became a wise grandfather. In messing with these characters, Rowling turns them into strangers and her unnecessary revelations cause many fans to become infuriated. For instance, nobody needed to know that she killed Lupin so Arthur could live, and this revelation caused a surprising amount of anger through the fanbase.
Rowling’s desire to tweet new facts about Harry Potter is, in some ways, a good thing. She seems to enjoy responding to fan theories, which is often useful, as it puts an end to many weird — and often questionable — theories. At least she is engaging with her fans and appreciating their comments, thoughts and feelings. Additionally, some of her tweets are heartfelt and don’t affect the story in any way:
But overall, JK Rowling’s random tidbits of information shared through Twitter have done nothing but irritate and alienate her vast fanbase. The general consensus seems to be that she should either write another book, where she can give as much detail to the backstories of her characters as she desires, or to simply stop tweeting.