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.
But enough about Nagini. There was another character I had high hopes for, yet the end result, as usual, was disappointing. It was Grindelwald. In the original Harry Potter films, Grindelwald is referred to as a terrifying villain, even more terrifying than Voldemort himself. But Johnny Depp’s performance of Grindelwald fell short of the massive hype and backing Rowling gave in regards to Depp’s casting. With the brief cameo Grindelwald had in the first Fantastic Beasts, I hoped Depp would perfectly convey the depth power and fear Grindelwald possessed. Oh, how wrong I was. His distractingly mismatched eyes and his bold dialogue yet weak delivery created a contradictory version of what many fans had in mind versus what we saw on screen. In Rowling’s description of Grindlewald, he was said to have a silver tongue. But based off of Depp’s lukewarm performance, I’d say Grindelwald would have trouble ordering a cup of coffee. I really had hoped that after all the cliffhangers in the first Fantastic Beasts movie, "The Crimes of Grindelwald" would provide more answers. Instead, many fans (including myself) are incredibly confused about how the events of the film fit into the Harry Potter timeline. I mean, according to the timeline, it’s impossible for Credence to be a Dumbledore, and what happened to those who joined Grindelwald, like Queenie? Written by JK Rowling and directed by David Yates, I had hoped the quality of "The Crimes of Grindelwald" would match the standard set by the Harry Potter movies. Clearly, it didn’t. So if you’re planning to watch "The Crimes of Grindelwald" in theaters, save your money and watch it at home.
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 🐍— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 26, 2018
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