A Russian comedy duo trick Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling into believing she’s speaking with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Once a respected pop culture figure responsible for creating one of the most beloved media franchises of all time, Rowling has fallen out of favor with many in recent years. She’s made statements widely interpreted as transphobic and has doubled down on these comments when questioned. As a result, several Harry Potter movie stars have come out against Rowling’s hurtful words, affirming their support for the transgender community.
Despite the backlash, Rowling remains a consistent presence in the Harry Potter universe. Warner Bros. recently released Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which Rowling co-wrote and produced. In May, it came out that WB’s new CEO, David Zaslav, reportedly has plans to meet with Rowling about making new Harry Potter content for HBO Max, though it’s unclear exactly what that will entail. All told, Rowling remains a prominent figure both online and amongst those continuing to follow Harry Potter.
Due to her celebrity, Rowling recently fell victim to a Zoom call hoax by Russian comedians Vovan and Lexus. As reported by THR, a video that made its way online earlier this week shows Rowling tricked into believing she’s speaking with Zelenskyy over audio, when it’s actually an impersonator. The comedians make several Harry Potter-related comments to Rowling in the video, including saying that Harry’s scar looks like the “Z,” the symbol the Russian military has placed on their vehicles during its invasion of Ukraine. Those responsible for the hoax also mention to Rowling they’re putting “Avada Kedavra” on missiles. Additionally, they question the author on if Dumbledore is actually gay. Commenting on the hoax, a spokesperson for Rowling called it “distasteful.” They went on to explain:
J.K. Rowling was approached to talk about her extensive charitable work in Ukraine, supporting children and families who have been affected by the current conflict in the region. The video, which has been edited, is a distorted representation of the conversation.
As the spokesperson references in their comment, Rowling is the founder of Lumos, a charity devoted to helping institutionalized children, such as those in orphanages and other facilities. During the ongoing invasion in Ukraine, Lumos has been working to assist those in need of help in the war-torn country.
Unfortunately, Rowling is far from the first to fall for such a scheme by Vovan and Lexus despite good intentions. In the past, the comedians have gone after high-profile figures like Elton John, George W. Bush, and Billie Eilish. It’s unclear exactly why J.K. Rowling was targeted in this way, but it may be simply because she’s a well-known celebrity similar to many other Vovan and Lexus victims. It’s hard to say at this point how the hoax will affect public perception of the author, though it seems likely it will impact it in some way.
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Author: Rebecca VanAcker