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Grindelwald's crimes against the 'Harry Potter' fandom

by Shwetha Sundarrajan The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte's editorial board. In the Wizarding World where everything is magical (especially the Butterbeer), there was one thing that upset me, a hardcore Harry Potter fan. It was the second installment of the Fantastic Beasts movie. Don’t get me wrong, the first one was fantastic. "The Crimes of Grindelwald," however, not so much. With the script written by J.K. Rowling herself, I truly expected every character to have a developed profile, including the minor characters, like how it was in the original Harry Potter films. But I truly lost faith in the movie when news of Nagini came out. The final trailer showed that Nagini is a creature called a Maledictus, which according to the official website Pottermore, is "a carrier of a blood curse which will ultimately destine them to transform permanently into a beast." But it was the casting of Nagini that enraged a lot of fans like myself. Played by Korean-American actress Claudia Kim, it seemed as if Rowling’s casting choice was to simply include POC’s. Even if that was her intention, her reasoning behind the casting was absurd. According to her statement on Twitter defending her decision, Rowling stated, “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.” For all the extensive research Rowling does for her books, she definitely missed the mark with Nagini. To clarify, the Nagas descended from Hindu mythology, not Indonesian mythology. According to Wikipedia, “The term Naga in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism denotes divine, semi-divine deities, or a semi-divine race of half-human half-serpent beings that reside in the heavenly Patala (netherworld) and can occasionally take human form.” So why cast Nagini as an East Asian woman when the Nagas themselves should be played by a South Asian actor? Besides, the very concept of making Nagini an Asian woman plays right into the fetishization of Asian peoples and the subservience of women. In the Harry Potter books, Nagini is Voldemort's loyal servant. Furthermore, by making Nagini an Asian woman, Rowling plays right into the disgusting stereotype of the exotic Asian woman  fetishized by the white man. And by being the only Asian character, the lack of representation sticks out like a sore thumb.

Image from USA Today

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