The furious woke boycott of the new Harry Potter video game Hogwarts Legacy has backfired spectacularly. Will this mark a change in how corporations respond to the woke social media campaigns of the twitchfork mob, asks Michael Deacon in the Telegraph.
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 J.K. Rowling’s alleged transphobia. News of this boycott was widely covered in the media both here and in the U.S. 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 anti-Rowling 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 my columns. 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 JK Rowling of promoting “a campaign against trans people”; the BBC later apologised for the failure of presenter Evan Davis to challenge this absurd claim.