Why JK Rowling Needs To Stop

Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindlewald was marked to induce disappointment more and more with each nugget of knowledge that was revealed to us in the lead up. Johnny Depp’s controversial presence was maintained, Nagini is now inexplicably an Asian woman, Grindlewald and Dumbledore’s relationship is never explicated satisfactorily. Of course, it’s more than possible to watch the film and be swept up in the well-known magic of the wizarding world, but if you don’t want the illusion shattered then don’t think about anything twice.

The optimist in me wants to believe that JK Rowling is trying her best to be inclusive, and that’s why she’s writing a woman of colour into her narrative and why she made Dumbledore queer in an interview answer so many years ago. The pessimist, and one may say the realist, in me has a different view all together, however. There’s no doubt that social media has been flooded with a mix of outrage and confusion with every reveal, keeping discussions going and the film in people’s minds and on their feeds.

Even if we do look at the cauldron as half full, there’s still a clear sign of ignorance in the decisions made. Making Nagini an Asian woman is a move I won’t fully pretend to understand, but considering she has barely any lines, no story arc of her own, starts the film in slavery in a cage, and, as we all know, has a final destination of being at Voldermort’s side. Not the best character development for one of the few people of colour in Rowling’s world. And then there’s Dumbledore and Grindlewald. Let’s pretend that the relationship between them was clear and explained and explicit (but let’s also be clear that it isn’t) – it’s still the only queer relationship in the entirety of the Potter universe and it’s between two white men who barely touch in the entire film. Oh, and one of them is a murderer. Not the greatest of starts.

I don’t want to believe the worst in someone, but I can’t help but only see two reasons behind the decisions Rowling made – either to inspire free publicity through social media channels, or to try and buy into markets that are suddenly looking lucrative. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong and the next film with give Nagini a role that makes her sudden identity change seem worth the problematic choices we’ve seen so far, and will start with the queer kiss that Harry Potter and its off shoots have thus far denied us. We’ll have to wait and see.