Harry Potter fans around the world have been sharing their shock and disappointment at the statement J.K. Rowling released regarding the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, a main character in the Fantastic Beasts series. When the fans saw that Depp would be portraying him, they were angered because it had already been made known to the public that Depp had abused his ex-wife, Amber Heard, but they hoped that Rowling would rectify the situation.
When I saw Depp make his brief appearance as Grindelwald at the end of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, I looked at the movie theatre screen in disbelief. I was horrified that the Harry Potter franchise, which I have loved deeply throughout my life, now included a man that disgusted me. However, I was certain that Rowling could not have agreed to his casting. I spent the next year after the premiere of Fantastic Beasts feeling the same way because of how much I saw Rowling advocating for women’s rights, so it came as an especially hurtful blow when it began circulating that Rowling had blocked many fans that demanded an explanation for Depp’s casting as Grindelwald.
Some fans defended Rowling for blocking people asking her why Depp was being rewarded with a role in Fantastic Beasts because they were being rude to her in their comments. I think it is absurd to expect people to react calmly when they see a man accused of domestic violence not only be able to continue on with his career as if nothing happened, but also be able to enter the Harry Potter universe, which began with the abuse and neglect that Potter faced as a child. Many fans fell in love with the Harry Potter books and movies because they have also had some sort of experience with abuse and they were able to find comfort in Rowling's creation. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for those fans to see a known abuser be a part of that same world.
She finally broke her silence a week ago and released a statement where she came out in support of Depp. Rowling explained that she had been alarmed when the allegations came out against him, but then said,
“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.”
I could not believe that the woman I had always seen as a role model had come to the defense of an abuser, and I am saddened that now my opinion of her has changed forever.
In her statement, she also claimed to be frustrated and in pain over the fact that she could not speak as openly about her views on Depp’s casting as she would like, but her stance has been made clear by her joy in having him play Grindelwald. If she was the women's rights activist that she claims to be, she would have been appalled once Depp's abuse was brought to light and then done everything in her power to have his role recast. Instead, she chose to take the comfortable and easy route of ignoring Depp’s crimes and giving him a major role in one of the largest movie franchises in the world.
There is no point in Rowling coming onto Twitter every day and showing her support for women’s rights if when she has to confront those issues in real life she decides to stand against the victim. She has only confirmed to all abusers in the movie industry that they should not be worried about facing any sort of punishment if their actions are exposed because they will most likely be able to continue on with their careers.