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[Opinion] An Open Letter: Dear Miriam Margolyes...

An open letter to Miriam Margolyes' addressing her recent comments on adult Harry Potter fans.

By Meg IlsleyPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
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Miriam Margolyes. PHOTO: WARNER BROS.

"I worry about Harry Potter fans because they should be over that by now..."

If you're not the kind of person who keeps one eye on news from the world of Harry Potter as I do, you might not have heard these words come out of the mouth of Ms. Miriam Margolyes who played Professor Pomona Sprout, head of Hufflepuff House, in the Harry Potter series. Fans are understandably upset by these words, which are yet another set of words from people behind the Harry Potter series that only serve to alienate the people for whom these stories are an important and integral part of life. I am one of those people, one of those who found a home in the pages of a story about a boy wizard and his snowy owl. I am one of those people who Ms. Margolyes has criticised and hurt with her words, inasmuch as someone can be hurt by the words of someone they don't know.

So to Miriam Margolyes, I want to say a few words of my own...

Dear Miriam Margolyes,

What right do you have to tell fans of Harry Potter, of any book or movie for that matter, that they should be 'over' it by now? Who are you to say it is a story 'for children'? What business is it of yours what people - who you've likely never met - are fans of? Portraying one of the characters in the series, one who appeared a lot less in the movies than in the books I might add, does not make you an authority on Harry Potter. Hell, based on your portrayal of Professor Sprout, I would argue it does not even make you an authority on her character. Did you read the stories yourself or was Harry Potter just another role to you? Do you understand why the story of Harry and his friends resonates with so many people across generations?

No celebrity, least of all you, has the right to criticise fans for liking something that brought them happiness, comfort, and a sense of belonging when they were lost. No celebrity has the right to tell a fan something is 'for children' or they should be 'over it' by now. Especially not when those fans are part of the reason you had a pay cheque for that period of your life (and we know, from your turning down of a role in 'Agatha' based on the pay cheque, that money is clearly a motivator for you). But let me address your concerns for a moment, Ms. Margolyes. Let me tell you - as an adult fan of Harry Potter - what I think of your unfair criticisms and why I think you're wrong and need to check your privilege.

First, let me tell you why I - as an adult fan of the Harry Potter series - will never 'get over' the stories. It is not a complicated answer; it is as simple as "Harry Potter made me feel like I belonged in a world where I was treated like - and felt like - a freak". It gave me comfort, happiness, and a sense of belonging during a time in my life where I had none of those in the real world. Harry Potter is like coming home after a long day to a hug from someone who cares about you. It is a place where I can go when things are tough and relive the magic I felt at eleven years old when I watched the first movie, or at seventeen when I stood in line for the final book. I can go on that journey time and time again, I can believe in something for a short time, and for the briefest of moments, I can feel like I belong and I am wanted. Have you ever felt lost like that, Ms. Margolyes? From all of your ignorant comments, I'd be willing to bet the answer is 'no'.

Second, let me tell you why I - as an adult fan of the Harry Potter series - don't believe Harry Potter is a story 'for children'. Don't get me wrong, in the beginning, the story of the boy wizard who is locked in a cupboard under the stairs, who is forgotten and abused by those who are supposed to care for them, and who is whisked away to a magical world that he had no idea existed, is a children's story. It is a tale similar to Cinderella or other fairy stories that have persisted through time. However, like fans of the series, Harry Potter and his friends, and the story being told about them, grew up. It got darker, it got more dangerous, it started tackling subject matter that was very much not for children. Harry, his friends, his peers, they are thrust into a war that is not of their making, a war that began long before their time.

They are children forced to clean up the mess of generations before them.

Much like my generation has to clean up the mess yours left behind for us.

I would sincerely like to know, Ms. Margolyes, what makes you think a story about war, genocide, murder, terrorism, segregation and discrimination, and more is a story for children. Harry Potter is not a story for children, it is a story for people of all ages. It is a lesson to all of us what happens when one person - who possesses too much charisma and who is unchecked - gains power. And I am not only talking of Lord Voldemort either, but also Albus Dumbledore, for even those with good intentions can cause harm. Harry Potter is a story of what happens when our own government puts its head in the sand and ignores oppression and violence against a group of people. I don't know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like what has been happening in the real world today - what has happened in the real world in the past.

Finally, I ask you a question, and I want you to really think about this for a moment: what harm does it do to you if people like Harry Potter into their twenties and thirties and forties? The answer is, you are not being harmed or oppressed by fans - no more than any other celebrity must face for their choice in profession when their movie or television series was a hit - so you have no right to tell fans what they can like, what they can feel, what they can connect with. Criticising fans in the way you have done (even under the guise of it being "a joke") and making them feel horrible for what they like is the mark of a bully. Miriam Margolyes, you are a bully, and you sully the name and legacy of Professor Pomona Sprout and the house of Hufflepuff with your attitude towards fans and your recent criticisms.

Hufflepuff is a house of acceptance, of loyalty, of friendship, of kindness - they are not pushovers by any standards, but they are not mean in the way you are, not without reason. You, Ms. Margolyes, have made a mockery of all Professor Sprout stood for and you should be ashamed for that, because she was one of the most accepting and welcoming characters in the series. She was a character who showed the world that we should encourage individuals' passions - like she did for Neville Longbottom. She was a character who showed that Hufflepuff House not only stood up for what they believed in, but did it in a kind manner.

You may wish to leave that part of your life behind, that is your choice, but it is not for you to decide (or to use your public forum to comment on) whether other people should or should not 'get over' something that brought them joy and happiness, something that saw them through dark times and made them feel welcome, something that gave them a home. Harry Potter means more to me than you, more to me than J.K. Rowling, more to me than the bullies who try to tear me down for loving something. I should not be ashamed of what I like, nor should other fans, and you should not unfairly criticise us for that. I know you've had to speak out about things in the past, you've had to fight for what you have and to be accepted for who you are, but stop fighting against those of us who have supported you through that.

And stop making us fight you to be who we are and be accepted.

Sincerely,

An adult Harry Potter fan.

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About the Creator

Meg Ilsley

Born in Australia, I moved to Canada in 2013 where I live with my four cats and two snakes. I have a Certificate in Creative Writing, am pursuing a Diploma of Graphic Design, and am an amateur author. Find me on Goodreads or Instagram.

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