Sarah Grace Goolden
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, is back at it again. On her latest take to Twitter, she informed us of a secret she’s been sitting on for “around twenty years.” Lord Voldemort’s snake Nagini is actually a woman cursed to the confines of a serpent. In the upcoming sequel to “Fantastic Beasts,” she is going to be played by Korean actress Claudia Kim.
Rowling informed us that Nagini is based on “the Naga,” which are “snake-like mythical creatures of Indonesian mythology.”
Why is this sparking controversy? Nagini comes from Indian mythology. The human-serpent was later depicted in Indonesia. In this respect, Rowling is kind of half-right.
Horrifically, she seems to think Korean and Indonesian are interchangeable. Another point is that they are recycling the tired trope of submissive Asian woman, and relating them to reptiles. Nagini is reduced to a pet in her final form. This is not the first time Rowling has been in hot water for her last-minute Twitter tweaks.
The Harry Potter franchise has a cult-following. The fandom itself is massive and includes readers and moviegoers of every age, race and gender. The whole world seemed to go crazy over the series, which began as a children’s book.
It’s not hard to see why. It’s whimsical as well as relatable. Protagonist Harry Potter deals with loss, struggles with friendships and relationships- all while saving the world and going to school. It’s a good book series and, in my unpopular opinion, a way better movie series.
With the release of the seventh novel “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the well-loved series concluded. At least, it should have. For those who are still in denial over its conclusion, Rowling offers constant adaptations, updates and shares previously unknown information.
I’m not trying to say Rowling is wrong for this. After all, she created the vast, magical world that Harry Potter lives in. She’s the only one allowed to make changes. I respect that. However, at some point, when are you just continuing to appease fans who can’t get over a fictional universe?
Rowling is praised as an ally for LGBTQ+ rights. She announced that one of her characters, Albus Dumbledore, is gay despite actually including it in the book. Her response was that “gay people just look like… people.”
This is a fine and dandy thought, but it doesn’t make Rowling “woke,” it makes her lazy. Using this rationality, anyone can be gay. We have to stop praising Rowling for including a non-straight character because, if we’re being honest, she didn’t. It seems Dumbledore’s sexuality was an afterthought to feed a ravenous frenzy of fans.
Rowling had a chance to right this wrong in the new movie series, “Fantastic Beasts,” that takes place in the Harry Potter universe. The sequel even revolves around a young Dumbledore! Don’t hold your breath waiting for his relationship with other character Gellert Grindelwald, though.
Rowling says, “This is a different level of involvement. I feel very very close to this project.” Despite her influence, director David Yates admitted that Dumbledore will not be “explicitly gay.” But don’t worry, he is gay! Just not in the books, the original series or this new one.
Where is Dumbledore gay? The truth is, even in a made-up world with talking hats and fire-breathing dragons, we still cannot have an outed character. I get it. Making him homosexual would scare off all the homophobes and Rowling and Yates are not willing to chance that.
I’ll glaze over the recent success of “Love, Simon” and “Moonlight” for a moment. If the franchise thinks they can’t afford a gay headmaster, that’s up to them. But J.K. Rowling needs to stop using queer people as a way for her to seem more likeable. Give us representation or give us nothing.
I don’t want a non-canon LGBTQ+ character. That is so unhelpful and meaningless. I’m tired of Rowling being praised without lifting a finger. I’m tired of these little additions she makes in retrospect. One Twitter user says, “representation as an afterthought for more woke points is not good representation.”
I don’t want Cho Chang. Not only is her name just the combination of two Korean or Chinese surnames, she seems to be added as just a half-baked love interest.
I don’t want “white skin was never specified” in regards to Noma Dumezweni’s role as Hermione. Was she black or not? Rowling certainly gave no inclination of it. I’d much rather she say she appreciates the adaption rather than piggyback off someone else’s actual diversity.
Representation requires acknowledgement. There is nothing wrong with stating a character’s race or sexuality. Rowling’s watered-down inclusivity reminds me of those who claim “they can’t see color.” It’s doesn’t help anyone.
J.K. Rowling, please let the first series die and focus on “Fantastic Beasts.” Use your influence to create new characters that satisfy your need to be praised. We don’t need anymore background information that you have the full autonomy to create. We need diversity on-screen now.