JK Rowling has responded to accusations of racism levelled at Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, after the latest trailer confirmed a long-held fan theory.
As the trailer debuted yesterday, it was revealed that Claudia Kim is playing Nagini in human form – years before she eventually became Lord Voldemort’s snake and an all-important Horcrux.
But after the trailer showed footage of the forthcoming film, fans are suggesting that it’s problematic to cast an Asian actress in the role of a cursed woman who eventually becomes Voldemort’s slave.
Posting on Twitter, teen author Ellen Oh wrote: “It’s okay to love problematic things.
“I’ll be the first to say that the Harry Potter series made me want to write children’s books. But let’s also talk about the problems. This feels like a problem.
“I feel like this is the problem when white people want to diversify and don’t actually ask POC how to do so. They don’t make the connection between making Nagini an Asian woman who later on is the pet of a white man. So I’m going to say it right now. That shit is racist.”
Another said: “Throughout the HP books, Nagini’s role is a pet and an object (horcrux) to white man Voldemort. She died as an object, just like how the other horcruxes were destroyed. What makes you think it’s okay to cast an asian woman in that role?”
Now, the Harry Potter author has responded to some of the online criticism. Jen Moulton – a linguist and author – tweeted Rowling directly to accuse her of her of not including “enough representation” when writing the books.
“But suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage,” she added. “Representation as an afterthought for more woke points is not good representation.”
Rowling then responded with: “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.”
Moulton wasn’t convinced by Rowling’s explanation, replying: “She is not humanised, she eats people and Voldemort milks her for food. To say suddenly that she was a real human person the whole time is really gross. To add that she is one of the very few POC in the HP series, I think, is despicable. Wbu?”
Another user said that the writer had not addressed Moulton’s point:
The latest controversy to hit the film comes after extensive backlash over the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, after the actor faced domestic abuse allegations.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is released on November 16.