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Monday, 24 April 2006
Dog in van

dog in van

Continuing the dog theme of yesterday, although there is no lost dog in this photograph.

I spotted this dog in a van in the road outside my workplace this evening. I stopped and took two photographs, and was lamenting the fact that I only had my mobile phone and couldn’t do the scene justice, when the owner of the white van returned. He was an ugly man with lank and greasy hair, and looked at me shiftily as he climbed in next to rover.  I was happy to get back in my car and drive home. As I accelerated away I glanced in my rearview mirror: he did not look like the kind of person I would like to follow me.

We tend to blame the media such as magazines, films and books, for cultivating prejudices based on looks. And yet if I know this is unfair, can I as an adult continue to blame my socialization?

This month, according to The Times the author JK Rowling wrote on her website

that she had become irritated while “reading a magazine that featured several glossy photographs of a very young woman who is either seriously ill or suffering from an eating disorder”. The writer added: “She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy and having the world�s fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off (hooray! Another couple of ounces gone!), but her concave stomach, protruding ribs and stick-like arms tell a different story.

“This girl needs help, but, the world being what it is, they�re sticking her on magazine covers instead.

“I don’t want [my daughters] to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I�d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny - a thousand things before ‘thin’.”

The Telegraph also had a detailed report on Rowling’s pronouncements.

Louisa O’Conner of Kent wrote in to the Telegraph that Rowling

does not help matters by the way in which characters are portrayed in her own books.

Unattractive characters in the Hogwarts series are almost always physically unattractive as well. Harry’s horrible cousin, Dudley, is routinely described as fat, and his eating habits are criticised.

Most of the members of Slytherin house are described as ugly, Pansy is said to have a face like a pug, and ugliness and evil are clearly linked together. It would be more interesting if Pansy was stunningly beautiful, to contrast with her nasty character.

If Ms Rowling is really concerned that children should value personality above looks, then perhaps it would be more helpful if she did not consistently make most of her bad characters physically repulsive, and if she didn’t dwell so much on Dudley’s fatness, as if that were the worst thing about him.

The next day another Telegraph reader, Madeleine Hurd, responded that this was unfair:

although Dudley Dursley of the Harry Potter books is portrayed as being both cruel and overweight, the two female Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy, are both thin, beautiful women, Harry Potter’s friend Neville Longbottom has been described as plump, the bigoted Draco Malfoy has a skinny face, and Lord Voldemort himself is first seen when he is completely bodiless and later remains no more than cadaverously thin.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. I discussed the matter with the biggest Rowling fan that I know, Miney. She put forward the same arguements to me as Madeleine. However I still tend to think it is a touch hypocritical of Rowling to make such a big issue of her character’s looks and link it to their personalities and then complain at the way other writers and journalists do something similar. At the same time I would like to be the last pot to call the kettle black.

Posted by bigblue on 24/04/2006 at 08:59 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (4) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

Hope the Dog and it’s passanger put their seat belts on before driving off…to coin a new phrase…white van dog, and man.
If they were stopped with the police….they should be prosecuted for “Drooling without care and attention”....6 points on his licence.

Posted by ian  on  25/04/2006  at  01:41 PM

I agree with you more than Miney. Rowling writes about how the Death Eater sisters, n?es Black, have “spoiled” their good looks with frowns or generally unpleasant expressions, but it doesn’t seem enough. Hermione makes herself beautiful by straightening her hair and shrinking her teeth in Book 4 (and I’ve now just realised what Miney was shouting at you about down the phone last night). Anyway, I basically think that Rowling should put down her fag and look outside the box.

Posted by bluemeanie  on  25/04/2006  at  03:26 PM

Your blog just censored the word f-a-g! (Which renowned smoker J.K. is hardly ever without)

Posted by bluemeanie  on  25/04/2006  at  03:27 PM

ian: I believe the dog licence was abolished in 1986. Perhaps that’s why the dog is driving (points can’t be deducted from a non-licence).

bluemeanie: I have fixed that. I found out how to remove a word from the “censored” list.  I think the word has different connotations in US English.

Posted by bigblue  on  26/04/2006  at  12:14 AM

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