Lakhiani: Stop idolizing toxic characters

Karuna Lakhiani, Staff Columnist

“Harry Potter” has been reappearing as an enormous trend recently. I’ve seen TikToks, tweets and Instagram posts about the houses, the characters and even headcanons and fan fictions. While I understand the hype around “Harry Potter,” we shouldn’t forget that J.K. Rowling is extremely problematic, and that there are a lot of problematic characters and plot points in the books. 

One of the most toxic characters in the series is Draco Malfoy, and as Harry Potter grows on TikTok, so has “Dracotok.” I have viewed plenty of videos and tweets about “simping” over canon Draco (as in, the official and authoritative version of the character as portrayed in the books and movies), mostly because he’s deemed as good-looking in the movies and has a tragic backstory. However, simping for or obsessing over characters like Draco is problematic because it lets their good looks overshadow their toxic personality. Behaviors from characters like Edward Cullen, Nate Jacobs, Hardin Scott, etc. are excused because they are attractive and “misunderstood,” and this promotes the justification of manipulative and awful traits. 

There is a difference between canon Draco and fanfic Draco. Canon Draco is not a character who would make a good boyfriend. Draco came from a family that believed “pure-bloods” were superior, and non-magical Muggles should be treated like dirt; he even called Hermoine Granger a slur. Draco is a literal racist in the world of “Harry Potter” and by obsessing over this canonical version of the character, you’re approving his toxicity, or at least excusing it. 

However, fanfic Draco is a completely different concept. Fanfic is something that is entirely made up by fans and can be anything you want it to be, like Draco being caring and not racist. By not differentiating the two versions of Draco, whether we realize it or not, social media apps like TikTok condone his actions.

Draco isn’t the only character with harmful traits. There’s Edward Cullen from “Twilight” and, more recently, Nate Jacobs from “Euphoria.”

Edward is another character my generation grew up with—it was always the question of Team Edward or Team Jacob? However, “Twilight” romanticizes Edward’s abusive behaviors and red flags. This over 100-year-old man stalks a teenager in high school, gaslights her to make her think she’s crazy, isolates her from her friends and so much more––but this was all forgiven because he’s a mysterious and attractive vampire. 

Nate Jacobs, the main character of the television show “Euphoria,” is a rich, white man with sociopathic tendencies, but yet, I still hear about how he’s “sexy” and “hot” and how people wish they had him as a boyfriend. Nate would ruin someone’s life in a heartbeat, and his behavior isn’t something to be idolized. There’s a difference between thinking an actor is attractive and admiring them as an actor, and admiring a character despite their actions simply because they’re attractive. 

Whether it’s my generation’s Draco and Edward, or the next generation’s Nate, we grew up romanticizing toxic traits. By not telling us from the start that these characters aren’t people you’d want in your life, let alone someone with whom you’d want to be in a relationship, it was implied that a tragic past and their looks could excuse their toxicity. 

Instead of continuing this trend of absolving bad actions because of good looks, we should be more vocal about not idolizing characters like Nate Jacobs or Draco Malfoy so we don’t worship people like them in our actual lives. Of course, it’s completely okay to think a character is attractive. However, it is not okay to use this as a reason to excuse the negative traits and immoral actions of a character. Let’s remember who exactly we’re simping for, and stop rationalizing the behavior of toxic characters because it sends a message that it’s okay to condone those types of behaviors and traits in our own lives.