New York times campaign accused of promoting ‘intellectual dispossession’

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At the end of 2021, the American daily had more than 8 million subscribers. SHANNON STAPLETON / REUTERS

By suggesting that the saga Harry Potter could be “imagined without its author”, the American daily aroused strong reactions, in particular from opponents of the “cancel culture».

«Independent journalism for an independent life“. The new communication campaign New York Times launched at the beginning of February is not unanimous. Its strategy is to highlight the diversity of personalities and areas of interest of the newspaper’s readers to more than 8 million subscribers. For each center of interest mentioned, an article from the media is associated.

On social networks or in the metro, the New York Times proposes, for example, to discover the profile of Vera, a reader from the Bronx, passionate about Bach and Apfelstrudel who enjoys having dinner in front of the television. Another character: Jordan, a trumpeter who wants torepenser Thanksgivingplans to move to Canada and becomes interested in the mysteries of a Basquiat painting. Until then, nothing that can cause controversy. Until Lianna’s portrait was shared. Lianna, a young African-American who is interested inqueer people of color love» et «imagine Harry Potter without its creator».

An implied criticism of JK Rowling, the writer behind the saga, accused of transphobia in 2020. At the time, the best-selling author reacted to the opinion site article Devex entitled “Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate». «I’m sure we had a word for these people before. Someone help me. Women? Do we? Fims?”, she quipped on Twitter. A remark, accompanied by other tweets on the genre, which had not been to everyone’s taste and even earned him death threats.

Lianna’s postulate, put forward by the New York Times is shared by several fans of the saga Harry Potter. He plans to be able to appreciate the work without being encumbered by its author. A way to continue enjoying the fantastic universe ofHarry Potter without having to identify with a person accused by some of transphobia. Others see this position as a “intellectual dispossession“. This campaign did not fail to make various authors react.

«Lianna does not possess a fraction of the designer’s imagination. What a bad advertisement to attract the readers of the newspaper“, laments the American writer and photographer Laura Dodsworth. The same indignation for the poet and novelist Joyce Carol Oates: “Shocking condescension. We try to imagine the NY Times without its marketing department, without its editors, without its owners, without its opinion columnists and without its loyal subscriber base».

«Lianna can go learn intellectual property lawcontinues writer and journalist Ruper Myers. “So I canceled my subscription to New York Times because he tried to cancel JK Rowling. Even the offer of a one-year subscription for $0.25 a week failed to convince me to stay with a journal that despises women so much that it celebrates the cancellation of a female author in its advertising“, deplores in turn the author and journalist Susan Dalgety.

These reactions are symptomatic of the criticisms addressed over the past few years to the New York Times about some of his editorial choices. The most prestigious of the American media is often considered to be at the forefront of the ideology “woke» («awake“) and in favor of the “cancel culture».

Various resignations testify to a turning point which is not unanimous within the editorial staff. Among the notable examples, theBari Weiss story, former journalist in the Opinions pages. The young woman had been forced to resign in July 2020 after the publication of a column by a Republican senator. The latter demanded the intervention of the army to stem the violence of the demonstrations after the assassination of George Floyd. “Intellectual curiosity has become a defect in Times”, warned the journalist in her resignation letter.

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