Here I got talking about Dumbledore again. He seems to be a character I tend to talk about a lot and once wrote a piece on why I had beef with the former Headmaster of Hogwarts.
This piece isn’t really about him I guess but the news that Dumbledore’s sexuality/relationships will not be explored in the new Fantastic Beasts movies.
As we all know after the book series was done JK Rowling came out and told the world that Dumbledore was gay. His relationship with Grindlewald was never really explored but his feelings for his friend made much more sense with the additional information that he was in love with him.
This part of Dumbledore’s life does not look like it will be explored at all. In a way I agree that it doesn’t have to be.
As a teacher, and not even just a teacher the actual Headmaster, at Hogwarts during Harry’s time at school there was no appropriate time for JK Rowling to go into his life. There were some characters who had their family life developed but you look at how much Dumbledore is in the books and what he actually does and where he is at that point of his life, as well as age and the fact that we now know his greatest love turned into one of the most evil wizards of all time and he nearly joined them but instead took him down, then it makes sense that Dumbledore’s relationships not only were a bit of a mystery to the world at large but just weren’t relevant to the story.
It now becomes relevant in so many different ways and it would be wrong for the concept of his love for Grindlewald not to be explored.
After all one of the reasons he didn’t join the fight right off the bat was because of his feelings for Grindlewald. Its a simple enough story element to add to the movie without having to go in depth into the relationship they once had as young adults. That period in Dumbledore’s life is extremely difficult for him and as he didn’t seem to have told many people about it it would also make sense that he doesn’t bang on about his relationship with Grindlewald at length to anyone standing close to him. After all Rita Skeeter can’t write her shocking book about Dumbledore’s life if the whole world knows about his deepest, darkest secrets anyway.
David Yates has come out to say that it isn’t being explored IN THIS MOVIE explicitly which I guess means there won’t be a scene where Dumbledore jumps up and down screaming that he’s gay and in love with Grindlewald. Without seeing the movie and how it is directed and what it involves I’m not getting my pitchforks out quite yet over them “shoving Dumbledore back in the closet” because in reality the subject is a very difficult one, one that I’m guessing Rowling might never have thought she’d be writing into a movie, and one that might slowly develop for the next FOUR, yes count them FOUR, movies.
Whist Yates also says that the two fell in love with each other JK Rowling has never herself led fandom to believe that it was a grand romance. Describing Grindlewalds part of the relationship more as a fascination about finding someone as brilliant as he is then a emotional connection. Grindlewald comes across as being slightly more human then Voldemort but not by much whilst Dumbledore wasn’t always the “hero” who valued love and humanity above all.
So in retaliation to fandom JK Rowling made the point I myself just made. In this movie we’ll meet Dumbledore in a tough part of his life and she had four movies including this one to unpack a very difficult story of a man who turns into the man we all know. He’s been through tragedy and is seeing the man he loves do atrocious things, he was a private man who turned his life towards teaching and helping others and there was never a hint in what Rowling said that he ever loved anyone again after Grindlewald.
Personally for me I want to wait and see what happens.
Yates said it isn’t explicitly pointed to meaning that Dumbledore isn’t going to join a human gay rights parade or tell loads of people that he was romantically involved with Grindlewald. That doesn’t mean Dumbledore is going to be played as a straight man with no love for Grindlewald it means that in this one movie, one of a five part story with three more parts to come afterwards, we won’t get a scene where Dumbledore stands up and says “I’m Gay.”
Which…. Actually fits in with the story so far.
No one in the book knew anything about Dumbledore, even writing her book Rita Skeeter could only speculate on the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindlewald, she couldn’t make claims that this gay wizard was in love because nothing is really known of Dumbledore. So there will never BE that moment he tells a whole bunch of people.
We don’t know how the young Dumbledore acts either. Maybe he doesn’t want to open up? He did once before and we know what happened to him. Maybe the story of the three movies afterwards is him opening up to someone like Newt who would take what he knew about Dumbledore to the grave and we slowly learn the story of the two of them?
Until writing this I didn’t actually see what the quote was that had upset so many but after reading it I feel its making a mountain out of a piece of dust.
Allow me a moment of silliness but were people expecting him to come out acting camp and snogging any man in sight? Did they want great long soliloquy’s about his lost love for a man?
More seriously without knowing what actually happens in this movie or indeed for three future movies what subtle way within the characterisation of Dumbledore as we know him would explicitly tell us he was gay without forcing a character who DID NOT want to face Grindlewald and whose relationship with the wizard was never known to be romantic to basically spurt out a lot of information unnaturally for the sake of it?
I get that representation matters and Yates did not in any way say that his sexuality would never be explored just in this movie it isn’t explicitly explored. There is a huge difference. It could mean a lot of things. This is still part one of their story that will now go on for the last four movies of this franchise. Not everything has to be thrown into one pot right away, flashbacks, moving tales and heartbreaking scenes can be placed throughout.
Lets not forget Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them is still a story about Newt Scamander with the war with Grindlewald playing its part. Dumbledore is just one of many characters in the series and one, in a way, newly introduced into part 2 of this film franchise. Whilst we all know the man he becomes I do feel that the man he is in the second film will be vastly different from who he becomes. People will want to see plenty of story involving the characters we fell in love with in part 1 and Dumbledore and his life will have to join a variety of other stories in the series.
To damn the film and claim JK Rowling cares nothing for representation based on a silly quote from Yates based on one film that has another three to follow is stupid.
BUT I understand it. Like I understood the outcry for what Karen Gillian was wearing in the Jumanji photos, before we see what actually happens it is hard to put into context just how good/bad something will be. Its easy to get upset because until you’ve seen it in context it’ll just make you feel like someone is abandoning you and your cause.
It comes down to whether or not you trust Rowling’s writing.
Personally, and I know this is a long one, but I am going to wait till the series is over to decide whether or not she retconned Dumbledore as gay for these movies or not. I don’t know if I trust her or not (and I will not be discussing the Johnny Depp abuse stuff ever so don’t ask me about that or even bring it up) but I feel getting upset and boycotting the film like some have talked about over it might be the wrong thing to do.
Unraveling the many layers of a man who fell in love, lost everything and now has to fight the man he loves and the ideal that he helped create seems like a interesting story to me.