The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequel has come under fire before for its featuring of Johnny Depp, but now there’s another reason fans are unhappy after a new trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald came out earlier this week and while it features some new details and new footage, not everyone is happy about it.
One of the biggest reveals is that Nagini, Lord Voldemort’s murderous snake and Horcrux from the original Harry Potter series, is actually what’s called a Maledictus (a human woman cursed to transform into a serpent).
However, it’s not the character that’s causing the backlash—it’s the casting choice that’s rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. Many fans feel that casting South Korean actress Claudia Kim as Nagini is offensive for several reasons.
I like Claudia Kim. I'm glad she's getting work and it seems like she has a cool take on the role. I'm sure she will bring humanity, dignity and vulnerability to Nagini. But also... Did it have to be Nagini?— Lee Shorten (@lcshorten) September 25, 2018
Ok, this is gonna be the last thing I say on this.— The Headless HorseVinh ?? (@Supervinh47) September 26, 2018
I just want to say that I'm impressed with J.K. Rowling, it takes a LOT of confidence to go 2/2 on racist Asian stereotypes.
Cho Chang being the demure "gentle flower" and #Nagini being the sexually attractive "dragon lady".
From what I’ve seen, some are upset b/c the Asian representation in the entire HP series has been pretty piss poor - Cho Chang and the Patil twins being the only rep with very little proper development. Nagini also being a Hindu word yet she’s an East Asian woman.— ?? IRL Druid ?? (@SolivagaSerpent) September 26, 2018
Does this mean I now hate Harry Potter? No. I still love it. But let's make it clear. Harry Potter is problematic AF. So let's discuss it now so that our future generation of writers who create the next blockbuster books and movies can do better.— Ellen "Call Me General" Oh (@ElloEllenOh) September 25, 2018
Claudia is just one of two actors of colour in the entire movie (the other is Zoë Kravitz), so many believe this was a lazy attempt at diversifying the sequel. Others feel that casting an Asian actress for the role of a cursed woman who eventually becomes Voldemort’s slave is incredibly problematic. And more still think that casting Claudia as a snake perpetuates offensive stereotypes in Asian culture.
J.K. Rowling insisted that the casting was entirely appropriate as the fictional character does, in fact, have Asian origins.
The Naga are snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology, hence the name ‘Nagini.’ They are sometimes depicted as winged, sometimes as half-human, half-snake. Indonesia comprises a few hundred ethnic groups, including Javanese, Chinese and Betawi. Have a lovely day ??— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 26, 2018
Claudia doesn't seem to have any problems with the role or character and told Entertainment Weekly, “It will be so interesting to see another side of Nagini. You’ve only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.”
But we still haven’t seen the movie yet, so we can’t be sure of how Nagini will be portrayed, but this is problematic AF.
I myself am a major Harry Potter fan. As I sit here writing this I have a quote from the books and a Funko Pop of Ron wearing his dress robes on my desk and the Deathly Hallows symbol around my neck. I listen to the audiobooks on repeat and even have Hogwarts robes and know what house I would be in (Hufflepuff).
So it’s safe to say that I love this fandom very much, but I am always disappointed by the lack of diversity in the actual books and the movies and it does often feel like JK Rowling is trying to tack on diversity to a series we already know is not the most diverse, but has still brought joy to millions of people.
I love Jo more than I love some members of my family, but she needs to do better. She needs to realise that while her books were and are some of the best stories ever told, they cannot be all things to all people.
It’s still great that we can have Black Hermione in the Cursed Child and we know that Dumbledore was gay (even though it’s not actually explicit in the books), but she needs to stop trying to pretend the original series was anything more than a story about a white teenage boy and his white friends with a few brown people in the background and that she’s trying and failing to now diversify another series about another white man.
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