There isn’t much to say on this subject that hasn’t already been said. However, as a lifelong fan of the Harry Potter series — and one of millions who take comfort in the titular character’s ability to find refuge away from his abusive family — I would be remiss not to say anything.
As probably the whole world knows, J.K. Rowling recently defended the casting of known abuser Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them films, and her statement is genuinely vomit-inducing.
For those who missed it, here’s the crux of what Rowling had to say: “Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.”.@jk_rowling's statement (on Johnny Depp) is genuinely vomit-inducing. #RecastGrindelwald Click To Tweet
“Genuinely happy.” Genuinely happy? In the full statement, Rowling blows some smoke about how the filmmakers discussed recasting Depp (which they should have done, and could still do), talks about how much the Potter fandom means, and says that “conscience isn’t governable by committee” and “we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing”.
Apparently, “the right thing” is ignoring claims of abuse when they’re inconvenient for Rowling. She’s been blocking fans who question the decision to keep Depp in the Grindelwald role. According to reports, when Depp’s casting was announced, Rowling spent the day favoriting tweets about how his ex-wife Amber Heard was lying about his abuse.
Casually reminding everyone mad at JK Rowling today that when Depp's casting was originally announced, she spent the day favoriting tweets calling Amber Heard a liar.
— rachel kiley (@rachelkiley) December 7, 2017
In her statement, Rowling takes a portion of Heard and Depp’s statement to the press completely out of context in order to defend herself, something that Heard called out on Twitter with the full text of the statement.
For the record, this was our FULL joint statement.To pick&choose certain lines & quote them out of context, is not right.Women, stay strong. pic.twitter.com/W7Tt6A3ROj
— Amber Heard (@realamberheard) December 8, 2017
This is a bad look for Rowling, who wrote a seven-book series about an abused boy no one believed whenever he tried to tell people what the hell was happening to him. Of course, Rowling changes her mind on things that happened in the Potter series with regularity. She went on record saying that Remus Lupin’s lycanthropy was a metaphor for the HIV/AIDS, then ignored the LGBTQ history of the virus by unequivocally stating that Lupin is heterosexual. She said she regretted pairing Hermione and Ron years after the final book was released.
Now, she apparently isn’t concerned about believing abuse survivors, despite telling fans for years that the Wizarding World would always be a safe haven.
Hey @jk_rowling, remember that letter you wrote me when I was 15, explicitly saying that the HP world would always be a safe haven from abuse, would always be there to protect & comfort me? Shove it up your arse.
— dani (@anthroqveer) December 7, 2017
Rowling’s statement supporting Depp isn’t just a slap in the face to Amber Heard. It’s a slap in the face to survivors everywhere, especially the ones who took solace in her books.
The next Fantastic Beasts film is titled The Crimes of Grindelwald, and reading it for the first time made my stomach drop. We already know Johnny Depp’s crimes. We don’t need to watch him on our screens anymore. Casting him — and keeping him cast — as a villain in a series about the horrors of abuse won’t help anyone.We already know Johnny Depp's crimes. We don't need to watch him on our screens anymore. #RecastGrindelwald Click To Tweet
J.K. Rowling loves to talk about how much Harry Potter changed her life, and it’s obvious that it did. It changed the lives of millions all over the world — a global phenomenon in the form of a children’s series, one that spawned over a dozen books, 9 films and counting, and theme parks. That’s not even to mention all the merch. And at the heart of it all is one boy who managed to escape from not one abuser, but several.
So tell me, J.K. Rowling: did we all just miss the point? Were we not meant to believe Harry, either? Should the villain have won instead?
By defending a known abuser’s casting in your film franchise, you’re lending significant credence to that idea.