Actor Ralph Fiennes, who played the villain Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter movie series, defended author J.K. Rowling against accusations of transphobia and slammed cancel culture in the arts on Tuesday.
Fiennes stood up for Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, in an interview with The Telegraph while ripping into the “disturbing” level of hate some have against others with different views and opinions. Rowling is a common target of progressive ire for her insistence that a person’s sex is determined by biology.
“I can’t understand the vitriol directed at her,” Fiennes said. “I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational. I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing.”
Fiennes has made a successful career in film and on a theater stage. He went on to describe the “troubling” trend of canceling classical plays because they do not cover certain topics, or cover them in a way offensive to some people today.
“I get worried if it’s decided that certain classical plays are irrelevant,” Fiennes said. “I think often there’s a superficial reading – Restoration drama is ‘colonialist, hierarchical, quasi racist’. But they’re just plays. You can turn them on their head. The danger is of labelling stuff. These texts are there – so pull the humanity out of them, pull out the stuff that’s relevant. If you’re going ‘it doesn’t tick these boxes’, you’re lowering the portcullis of judgement before you’ve even got into the room with it. I think that’s troubling.”
Rowling has been “canceled” a number of times by activists critical of her stance on transgenderism. She has refused to back down from her views, however, and has explained herself at length on several occasions. In December, Rowling explained herself again in an interview with Good Housekeeping magazine.
“Many women are concerned about the challenges to their fundamental rights posed by certain aspects of gender identity ideology,” the author said. “I’ve had a huge postbag since speaking up on this issue and more than 90 per cent of the letters and emails have been supportive. My correspondents have included medical staff, social workers, prison workers, workers in women’s refuges and members of the LGBT community, including trans people.”
“Many are afraid to speak up because they fear for their jobs and even for their personal safety,” she continued. “This climate of fear serves nobody well, least of all trans people. I believe everybody should be free to live a life that is authentic to them, and that they should be safe to do so. I also believe that we need a more nuanced conversation around women’s rights and around the huge increase in numbers of girls and young women who are seeking to transition. Some of the most heartbreaking letters I’ve received have been from young women who regret the irreversible surgeries they’ve undertaken. These stories need to be told.”
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