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The privileged ignorance of Daniel Radcliffe

What a shame that JK Rowling made a star out of such a privileged plonker.

Julie Burchill

Julie Burchill
Columnist

Topics Culture Identity Politics UK

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It was King Lear who said, ‘How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child’. I always think of it whenever I see the latest nasty little jibe at JK Rowling from one of the mediocre actors whom her novels shot to stardom. Now Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe has opined – more in sorrow than in anger, no doubt, with a caring, sharing smile on those sensitive lips – that adults concerned about children changing gender are ‘condescending’. More specifically, he ‘affirmed’ the beliefs of six trans and nonbinary children at a discussion organised by LGBTQ charity The Trevor Project this week, saying: ‘There are people who also have a slightly condescending, but well-meaning attitude of “People are young… and it is a huge decision”.’ According to Radcliffe, ‘We can trust kids to tell us who they are’.

Commenting on the difference between his childhood and the childhoods of da kidz he was gettin’ down wiv, Radcliffe said: ‘I always knew I was a boy because that was a thing I grew up knowing.’ Or perhaps this was because you were part of the last generation to grow up in an age when girly boys and boyish girls weren’t carted off to have any potential gayness transed away? What a loss to The Brains Trust this man is.

It sounds lovely to say ‘listen to kids’. And no one wants to say that ‘children should be seen and not heard’. (Of course not – it’s gender-critical women, the people who want single-sex spaces and single-sex sports, who should be seen and not heard, silly!) But there’s a reason that children don’t have the same rights as adults – why they can’t get a tattoo, have sex, get married, buy alcohol, fight / die for their country or drive a car. It’s because they don’t know who they are or what they’re doing yet.

As a teenager, I often thought I must be Jewish. As a child, I sometimes pretended I had a tail. Straight teenagers often have a ‘gay phase’ and gay teenagers sometimes have a ‘straight phase’ – see the proof in Paul O’Grady’s adult daughter. I would wager a fine purse that most of the types who believe in listening to ‘trans kids’ on matters of gender also believe that Shamima Begum shouldn’t be held responsible for running away to join a gang of bloodthirsty fascists at age 15. Yet somehow it’s fine for 15-year-olds to become guinea pigs for medical transitioning. Half of the 5,000 children referred to the NHS’ Tavistock clinic from 2020 to 2022 were under 15 – and over a dozen were under four years old. This is despite the fact that teenagers’ brains are still growing. Unless they swallow gender ideology, of course – then the brain growth stops and they stay stupid.

If that offends you, tough – go and get yourself an adult colouring book. There’s a reason that we writers are more likely to be witch-hunted than other professions. We love words. We know that being forced to repeat lies is how every evil regime in the world flexes its power. There’s a reason the torture of Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-Four is followed quickly by O’Brien finally forcing him to lie about how many fingers the torturer holds up. Today, the lie about four fingers being five has been replaced by those who hold up a penis and force onlookers to say that it’s female.

Trans-rights activists hate our side because they’ve failed to force us to lie. The words they expect us to use are designed to spread untruths. ‘Genderfluid’ sounds lovely, for instance. It’s what my teenage idol David Bowie was being when he shagged around like a sailor on shore leave one day, and wore a dress the next. When I used to dance to my favourite song of his – ‘Rebel Rebel’ – I was always full of glee at the line that never got old: ‘Got your mother in a whirl / She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl.’ We old people don’t look down on today’s trans antics because we’re uptight fuddy-duddies – we do so because we’re still reprobates. We find the idea of needing external validation for one’s identity pathetic. We didn’t need it from our parents; we certainly wouldn’t have wanted it from building societies to beer brands, as the softies do today. And as for the poor old whirling mum (trying her best!), today she’d be marched off to the Pronoun Police for not immediately identifying which one of the 72 BBC-approved genders her indecisive offspring was on that particular day. Boy or girl? How dare you limit my potential – today I’m otherkin!

If you go and get sterilised before you can vote, you’re not going to be genderfluid, which sounds like being a mermaid cavorting atop a unicorn. If you’re a young woman having your primary- and secondary-sex characteristics eviscerated, you’re not going to have much in the way of fluids at all – you will be scarred and desiccated instead. If you’re going the other way, you will most likely keep hold of your precious male genitalia (less than five per cent of transwomen actually have the chop). Perhaps you’ll become a big bully in too much blusher yelling at lesbians to suck your lady-dick. The first option is sad and the second is bad, but they both often have roots in mental ill-health. That’s what Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t understand, sitting up there on his money mountain, in the rarefied air of ignorant bliss, with his net worth of $100million.

But why should we expect him to understand? He (son of a literary agent and a casting agent) – like his equally irritating sidekick, Emma Watson (daughter of two lawyers) – has only ever known privilege. And, it must be said, immense luck. You can see that some child stars, from Judy Garland to Lindsay Lohan, were natural stand-outs from the start. But look at the young Radcliffe and Watson and tell me with a straight face that they had star quality stamped all over them. I’ve seen pairs of twice-used teabags with more charisma. How handy that he was already in his thirties – and therefore unlikely to be called upon to play the schoolboy wizard again – before he first bit the hand that fed him such a sumptuous smorgasbord of opportunities. But if it wasn’t for Rowling, it’s highly likely that the most creative job he’d be doing would be drawing hearts on coffee foam.

One of the handy effects of wokeism is that it conveniently ignores class as a form of privilege. So if you went to a fee-paying school, but then identify as ‘queer’ or an ‘ally’, you can then behave as if you had a tougher start than, say, JK Rowling. As a child, Rowling was told that, due to her social class, the nearest she could ever get to her dream of being a writer was being a teacher. During the years she spent struggling to become a writer, she was a single parent, on benefits, escaping a violent husband. She has gone from being a billionaire to a multimillionaire through the sheer amount of money she has given away. So she doesn’t need to ponce about #BeingKind to prove she’s one of the good guys.

Meritocracy itself is now ‘racist’ and ‘the antithesis of fair’, according to one Alison Collins, a former commissioner of education in San Francisco. And in the acting racket, it certainly seems almost impossible for bright working-class kids to take work away from the privately educated pricks and princesses currently ruling the roost. Still, I do feel hopeful on reading that a new Harry Potter television series has been commissioned by streaming service Max. Let’s hope that the next lot of kids JK Rowling makes stars of aren’t such a bunch of prissy, privileged little tossers as the last lot.

Julie Burchill is a spiked columnist. Her book, Welcome To The Woke Trials: How #Identity Killed Progressive Politics, is published by Academica Press.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Culture Identity Politics UK

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