The Daily Telegraph

Way of theworld Michael Deacon


If ever proof were needed that Twitter is not the real world, here it is. For months, legions of militant online activists furiously campaigned for a boycott of Hogwarts Legacy, the new Harry Potter video game, in protest against JK Rowling’s alleged transphobi­a. News of this boycott was widely covered in the media both here and in the US. So how well did it go?

Put it like this. The game was finally released two weeks ago. And so far, it has sold an astonishin­g 12 million copies, making it by far the biggest game of the year to date.

So, in short: no, the boycott did not work out entirely as planned. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how it could have backfired more spectacula­rly. For all their shrill, self-pitying demands, the antirowlin­g activists have been trounced. Ordinary people, out in the real world, simply didn’t care what they thought. A salutary lesson, you might hope, for all those businesses that quake in fear of displeasin­g the social media mob. Come to think of it, I wonder whether I can persuade these same activists to announce that they’re boycotting Way of the World. That should send Telegraph subscripti­ons through the roof.

At any rate, the stupendous failure of the anti-rowling boycott makes the hysteria around the game’s release look all the more bizarre. A voice actor who worked on the game felt compelled to make a statement saying he’d agreed to do it “before I was aware of JK Rowling’s views”. The video games editor of The Guardian complained that covering Hogwarts Legacy had been “horrible”. On Radio 4, a gamer accused Rowling of promoting “a campaign against trans people”; the BBC later apologised for the failure of presenter Evan Davis to challenge this absurd claim. Invariably, the people who accuse Rowling of transphobi­a prove mysterious­ly unable to quote anything transphobi­c she’s actually said. But in any case, it’s hard to understand why they should care quite so deeply about the personal opinions of an author they last read when they were children. Imagine if previous generation­s had burst into tears because they’d discovered that Enid Blyton didn’t share their views on the Suez crisis, or that Rev W Awdry disagreed with them about decimalisa­tion. (“Thomas the Tank Engine used to mean everything to me, but now I can’t even bear to think about it. I’m really starting to regret having my back covered with this tattoo of the Fat Controller.”)

The very idea would have been unthinkabl­e. In the past, no one knew or cared what their favourite childhood authors thought about current affairs. These former Harry Potter obsessives, however, act as if Rowling has personally wronged them, just because she has the temerity not to share their opinion on radical gender theory.

Perhaps this is the real “Hogwarts legacy”: a generation of spoiled babies who seem incapable of growing up.

Still can’t find tomatoes in the shops? Don’t panic. It turns out that you can easily get hold of them somewhere else – and free of charge, at that. According to a report in the Daily Mail, large numbers of tomato plants can be found growing wild around our beaches.

Apparently, the reason they’ve sprung up there is simple. They’ve been fertilised by all the sewage.

What a delightful story. All I can say is, it’s certainly one in the eye for Labour. For months they’ve been attacking the Government for allowing water companies to pump enormous quantities of raw sewage into the sea, thus causing our beaches to become hideously polluted. Yet now we can see that, far from an infuriatin­g example of ministeria­l incompeten­ce, this was in fact a wise and far-sighted policy, which will ensure that the British public need never run short of mouth-watering fresh tomatoes.

No doubt this is exactly how the Government planned it. What ingenious creative thinking. Somehow, ministers must have anticipate­d that, at some point in the future, Britain would abruptly suffer from an inadequate supply of imported tomatoes. And so, to counter this alarming eventualit­y, they hit on the brilliant idea of coating the nation’s beaches with thousands of tons of plant-nourishing human waste. That must be what happened. I can just picture the scene in Whitehall, as civil servants diligently set about calculatin­g the exact volume of effluent required to sustain an emergency seaside tomato crop.

Now, happily, this sensible piece of forward planning will pay off, as thousands of British families rush to the beach and crawl eagerly through the sewage, hunting for delicious tomatoes. I just hope they’ll give the Government the credit it deserves.

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