Ethical consumption and Hogwarts Legacy

Preface: don’t buy the wizard game; don’t play the wizard game; don’t stream the wizard game. JK Rowling is a transphobic bigot and as long as she owns the Harry Potter IP, consuming it is a tacit endorsement of her worldview. Source.

Choosing not to consume the game is a basic statement of solidarity with our trans comrades.

One argument I’ve seen to justify playing Hogwarts Legacy is that consumption of any commodity is inherently problematic. Whether it’s an iPhone, a sandwich, or a video game, “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism”. Everything is tainted, and you can’t not consume, so you gotta pick your poison; one person’s McDonald’s cheeseburger might be another person’s iPhone, or someone else’s TERF lady wizard game.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept.

Another way of saying “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism” is “capitalist production is inherently exploitative”. The difference between workers’ wages and a product’s market value is pocketed by the boss. Capitalism invites us to ignore this and instead be passive, uncritical consumers, separating the products we use from how they are made.

The fact that this happens isn’t a blanket excuse to consume indiscriminately. Instead, it offers an opportunity to critique the system and and identify exploitation by degree and kind. As consumers our choices have meaning, even when they can’t be completely divorced from the system.

The individual choices we make don’t have as much impact as changing the system itself (and aren’t a replacement for it), but these choices do have some value, and the stupid wizard game that came out today is an opportunity to actively make a choice based on criteria that are important to us.

Some to consider:

  • Our consumer choices exist in a broader context.
  • Our choices can materially impact people and the environment.
  • We often have other alternatives.
  • From among those we can choose to do less harm, or to do more care.

This is a case where we have a chance to care.