Harry Potter and Streamer Hypocrisy

Don't let the controversy get in the way of making a buck

Harry Potter and Streamer Hypocrisy
Photo by Brian McGowan / Unsplash.
Hi there. Before you begin reading this story, I'd like to outline SUPERJUMP's policy on Hogwarts Legacy coverage.

Our team explicitly rejects J.K. Rowling's misinformed views on the trans community. Many of these views further harmful stereotypes and tropes that contribute - directly and indirectly - to attempts to curtail trans rights across the world.

We have decided not to review Hogwarts Legacy, nor accept a code for the game from the publisher. SUPERJUMP marked the game's release by making a donation to The Trevor Project, an organisation committed to supporting trans youth.

Going forward, we will not ban authors from writing about the game (outside of a review), as it's the authors themselves who decide what games we cover here at SUPERJUMP. Any Hogwarts Legacy stories must adhere to our usual standards of quality and thoughtfulness. We acknowledge that the decision on whether or not to play the game is a personal one, and we respect the fact that there are a range of equally valid perspectives around this.

Regardless whether or not you choose to play Hogwarts Legacy, please consider donating to The Trevor Project or an LGBTQ charity of your choice.

Thank you for your time.

James Burns
Editor in Chief

These past two weeks have been a very ugly time to examine pop and streamer culture. It's been even worse for the trans and Jewish communities with regard to the Hogwarts Legacy release. While I wasn't surprised that the game is doing very well in terms of sales, I've been disappointed by the number of content creators who stepped on a landmine of their own creation. In doing so, they have really revealed a truth about streaming and content creation culture that nobody can really look away from anymore.

Before I continue, I want to make it clear that I'm not going to be playing Hogwarts Legacy, and I'm not interested in the arguments that either justify playing it or convince me to do so.

Is it wrong to play the game?

Anyone who knows me understands that, at the end of the day, I'm a realist. I knew that, no matter what, Hogwarts Legacy would be a commercial success. The idea that any news surrounding Rowling herself - or the idea of a boycott - would actually change this fact is naïve at best. The vast, vast majority of consumers who bought the game likely don't know about Rowling's views in any detail, nor the accusations around the game's designer, nor the concerns around the game's harmful tropes. Harry Potter, much like any major IP, has really transcended both the original work and its creator.

There are three groups of people who bought this game. The first group are those mainstream fans who were simply never going to be reached by the online petitioning and information. I don't see a problem with these people playing a game from an IP they love.

The second group are those who genuinely support Rowling and her views. These people are clearly not going to be swayed by counter arguments, and so, it's understandable that they'd play the game given that they're all-in and don't see a problem.

Then there's the third group. This is the group with the biggest opportunity to inform their audience, they're online enough to know what's going on, and they have the opportunity to show solidarity with the trans community. Ironically, many of these streamers and YouTubers have built entire brands and empires based on being wholesome or combating toxicity online. Of course, there are plenty of streamers who fall into the second group as well (who were going to play the game no matter what). Where I'm disappointed, and where I empathize with the frustration and anger from the trans community, is with the speed that some content creators burned bridges (and their own reputations) in the pursuit of online fame and money.

Photo by Liam Truong / Unsplash.

Wholesome backfire

I'm not a Harry Potter fan personally, but as someone who has done both YouTube and streaming for more than five years now, I'm somewhat well-versed in examining content creator and streamer culture. One of the most popular ways for a creator to grow is to present themselves as an "ally to everyone" (a person who respects people of all backgrounds and genders, and whose goal it is to build a community where everyone can get along, often labeling themselves as "positive" or "wholesome"). Many content creators push this idea to an unhealthy extreme: outright banning and condemning anyone who says anything they view as "negative". They are the ones most concerned about their image online, and will do everything possible not to ruin that. This is the group that is often discovered to be far less wholesome than they initially led you to believe. It's also worth noting that many of these streamers view criticism about their approach as "hate", no matter how small or legitimate these critiques are.

Many of the top streamers and content creators were all too eager to develop content around this game. Some, after an outcry from their fans, didn't do it but still complained about it, while others just did it anyway. What's so disappointing is the obvious hypocrisy; rather than living up to their stated ideals, they succumbed to the desire for income that coverage would inevitably bring.

This is part of the parasocial relationship that I'm sure psychiatrists are going to be spending years unraveling (including to what extent following a celebrity has an impact on one's psyche). Clearly, you should not be treating anyone as your moral compass or father/mother figure just because you really like their content. In many of these cases, when push comes to shove, a desire for money came before the interests of a community. The number of YouTubers who promoted themselves as allies - yet who happily make money from this game - prove the point.

macro spectacles in da nang
Photo by Larm Rmah / Unsplash.

Money ≠ morality points

I recently posted a story about the philosophy of morality sliders in games; this was, in part, influenced by watching the Hogwarts Legacy coverage spectacle unfold. One thing I said was that morality sliders reduce the concept of morality to nothing more than a variable that can be manipulated. If I do one bad thing and two good things, then I'm still up one and considered a good person, right?

One of the arguments that a lot of people made - the ones who wanted to cover the game - was that they were going to donate money to The Trevor Project. Quite a few people suggested this would make everything square. Or, in other cases, they would outright attack people with some version of "Oh, you don't want my money then?" Of course, individual moral actions can be judged on their own merits; donating to an LGBTQ charity doesn't absolve your responsibility when it comes to other actions. The fact of the matter is that there are more than enough games from LGBTQ+ designers who are more than deserving of some time in the sun; I can immediately think of at least four that I've played in the last few years, but there are a lot more out there. But, again, the hypocrisy is rife - the "good guy" streamers didn't opt to play these games because they aren't the "big name" releases that will drive revenue.

There is another argument worth addressing: the idea that playing the game and deliberately using it as a platform to donate to LGBTQ+ charities is actually a way of sticking it to J.K. and those who agree with her. There may be some legitimacy to this idea, but I'd argue it's still fundamentally about creating a "good news story" where the streamer is stepping on impacted communities for views.

Running a charity stream or donating money is easy - and don't get me wrong, contributing to good causes is valuable in itself - but it's harder to forego easy money, even if that means trashing your reputation. Having said that, running a charity stream specifically covering LGBTQ+ games could have been a genuinely great story, and something that would have been more practically useful than arguing about Hogwarts Legacy.

A not so magical start to 2023

This is quite a different story from me. It's been strange looking at the situation from the outside. As I said throughout this story, I'm not at all surprised by both the success of the game or the way in which some popular content creators have revealed their hypocrisy. My suggestion is to look closer at the games you play and the people you follow, as Hogwarts Legacy is certainly not the first (or last) game that creators will rush to cover despite (or because of) the controversies.


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