5 Famous Writers With WTF Opinions Of Their Own Work
Most writers are reticent to explain the many themes, metaphors, and motivations in their esteemed works, probably to help cultivate that air of mystique to hide that it was all written while drunk and wearing nothing but underpants. We're going to go out on a limb and say that's probably for the best, because sometimes a genius will offer up their own interpretation of their work and ruin the whole thing. For example ...
J.K. Rowling Insists Lycanthropy Is Exactly Like AIDS
It's been almost 20 years since J.K. Rowling enchanted the world with her greatest creation: the magic glasses boy. But after a certain point, she decided gradually erode that magic through periodic over-explaining and retconning. Sometimes fans are simply grossed out, like when she revealed that wizards used to shit their pants and magic away the dookie before the invention of indoor plumbing. Other times they're more offended, like when she claimed Dumbledore was a queer hero, despite that element of his character never appearing in the books.
And then there was the time Rowling proudly declared that werewolves are a metaphor for AIDS. As she explained on Pottermore:
Lupin's condition of lycanthropy (being a werewolf) was a metaphor for those illnesses that carry a stigma, like HIV and AIDS. All kinds of superstitions seem to surround blood-borne conditions, probably due to taboos surrounding blood itself. The wizarding community is as prone to hysteria and prejudice as the Muggle one, and the character of Lupin gave me a chance to examine those attitudes.
If you've never dated a goth, werewolves are people who turn into violent beast-human monstrosities during the full moon, then stalk the lands attacking anything with a pulse. Sound like any AIDS victim you know? And the insulting comparisons don't stop there. One of the only two named werewolves in the Potter canon, Fenrir Greyback, is an evil creep who purposefully preys on children to "convert" them. Is that also part of the metaphor for an epidemic mostly blamed on gay men?
Or what about the fact that there's a treatment for lycanthropy, while in the '90s (the decade the Potter books are set in), AIDS was still mainly a slow and painful death sentence? Maybe stick to figuring out wizard poop. At least that's only harming the incontinent. And hygienic wizards.
Related: JK Rowling Still Sucks At Metaphors
Gene Roddenberry Wanted A Star Trek With No Drama Whatsoever
To facilitate the most positive future he could imagine, Gene Roddenberry ruled that in the future of Star Trek, people had evolved beyond conflict. Everyone had to always get along, and that was an order. It was a good recipe for a lovely society and a boring-ass television show. This embargo on interpersonal conflict annoyed the other Star Trek writers to no end. They had to bend over backward to create drama in a show in which characters weren't allowed to raise their voices to one another, even if a co-worker accidentally beamed your left arm to Omicron Vorp V.
This enforced politeness was so ingrained into Roddenberry's vision of the Federation that it even affected things like the technology of the setting. Because "heroes don't sneak around," he had them bound by a treaty forbidding the use of cloaking devices, which was just tough titties for all those unarmed colonist ships. Nor was the Federation government allowed to be anything less than utterly infallible. So when the writers created a story about corruption in the Federation, Roddenberry insisted that it be revealed the corrupt officials were actually being controlled by evil parasites that ripped them to shreds long before too much PR damage was done to his perfect civilization.
Writers were able to find loopholes, and after Roddenberry's departure, the "Be nice" rule was abandoned altogether. It's ironic that in his attempt to conjure a Utopian society, he had to act as a sort of despotic god who enforced civility at the cost of personal freedom. Sounds like a pretty good Star Trek episode, actually.
Phillip K. Dick Wrote Novels To Warn People Of The Secret Roman Empire Controlling Time
In 1974, while recovering from dental surgery, Philip K. Dick received what he described as a prophetic vision. After downing a bunch of trippy meds from an agent of Christianity, a blinding flash of pink light beamed tiny aliens into his room. Also, an amorphous god named Zebra was there, but they were just hanging out. The tiny aliens told Dick that Earth time had stopped in 70 CE, when the Romans destroyed the temple of Jerusalem. Every moment since then had been a Matrix-style illusion by a shadowy Roman government which was also somehow the Nixon administration. Obviously!
For the rest of his life, Dick tried to figure out the truth about this revelation. He wrote an 8,000-page manifesto about his experience and narrowed it down to aliens, ghosts, alternate dimension versions of himself, KGB telepaths, or the small, super remote possibility that he was on drugs. But he also had another task: to warn people of our veiled Roman overlords. After '74, every novel Dick wrote was a fictionalized account of his divine messages.
Radio Free Albemuth is about aliens organizing a resistance movement against a corrupt U.S. president using narrow-beam radio transmissions from satellites orbiting Earth. The Divine Invasion is about an exiled god trying to retake Earth, inspired by his best bud Zebra. VALIS is directly about a man named Horselover Fat who gets visions of the Roman Empire in the present day thanks to a beam of pink light. (It's pretty rad, actually.)
Of course, Dick didn't write those novels under the influence of a pink light, but a pinkish pill. For most of his career, the author was on amphetamines, gobbling speed like Pez. This made him terribly paranoid (not necessarily a bad thing for an author of dystopian sci-fi), and likely caused him to be an unreliable narrator about his own life. But it wasn't all bad. The vision made Dick feel less alone for the first time, easing his worries and freeing his mind. So we should be grateful that all he did with that was write a bunch of great fiction. Imagine how powerful Scientology could be if it had been founded by a competent writer.
Captain Planet Doesn't Exist, According To His Co-Creator
In Captain Planet And The Planeteers, the five teen protagonists join their magic rings together to summon an extra-dimensional janitor who cleans up humanity's messes. So far, so straightforward. But according to the show's co-creator, Barabara Pyle, that superhero weirdo they squeezed out "wasn't a physical being." In her interpretation, Captain Planet doesn't even exist inside the Captain Planet universe. Pyle never saw him as more than "a metaphor for teamwork" who "lives only in the imagination of those five kids," which at least explains why he looks like he was drawn by a five-year-old in a doctor's waiting room.
But if Captain Mullet is just an allegory for five determined teens working together, then what about all the straight-up superhero stuff? Did the power of teamwork stop bridges from collapsing? Did a metaphor for environmental responsibility throw a spaceship into a volcano? We get that Pyle wanted to teach kids that the power to improve the world comes from within, but in order to rip a giant robot in half, you still need an off-brand X-Man on your side.
And what about the countless times people were talking to this imaginary super friend? Was that also part of the Planeteers' shared hallucination? Did the villains just see five kids talking to a street sign while laughing and high-fiving? No wonder no one wanted to listen to those lunatics talk about recycling.
J.R.R. Tolkien, Noted Hater Of Allegory, Thought Dwarves Were Very Jewish
While his friend C.S. Lewis loved to point out that his fantasy epic was basically the Bible but with sexy goat dudes, J.R.R. Tolkien balked at that namby-pamby allegorical stuff. No pretending that the One Ring symbolized peer pressure, or that the Entmoot was a critique of bureaucracy. Tolkien refused to acknowledge any far-fetched metaphor for religion, politics, or history attributed to his fantastical characters.
Except for the dwarves. They were totally the Jewish diaspora.
On multiple occasions, Tolkien admitted that his race of diminutive beardy dudes was very much inspired by Jewish socio-ethnology. Like Jews, dwarves had been displaced from their homeland (by goblins and dragons instead of the Romans) and scattered all over Middle-earth. And lest we forget our Old Testament, dwarves also share the "tremendous love of the artefact, and of course the immense warlike capacity of the Jews," as Tolkien put it.
A linguist, Tolkien also based the dwarven language on the Jewish experience. In a letter to a fellow author, he noted that like Jews, dwarves were "at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue." And while three generations of fantasy nerds have interpreted them as speaking with a thick Scottish accent, it should actually be closer to Hebrew; Tolkien intentionally "constructed to be Semitic."
Miraculously, despite being a white Christian from the early 20th century (and one slightly iffy passage in The Hobbit describing dwarves as "calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money"), Tolkien wasn't an antisemite. If anything, he grew more and more fond of his "Semitic" dwarves as time went on. When the Nazis insisted that Tolkien prove he wasn't Jewish before he could be published in Germany, he replied, "I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people." But only after pointing out to them that "Aryan" actually meant "Indo-Iranian."
Abraham is a Mexican lawyer when he isn't doing law stuff he writes comedy! You can say hi to him on Twitter here.
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