“If the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good and kind and brave because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort”
J.K. Rowling penned this quote little under 17 years ago for her book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She was the woman responsible for introducing millions to a world of magic, mystic and wonder that had never been seen in such epic scale before. She was the woman that shaped my generation and taught us moral lessons that I know I and many others have held dear to our hearts. Bearing all this in mind, I was extremely disappointed when last week I read her statement regarding the casting of Johnny Depp as the title character in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ which stated that despite being “deeply concerned” about his previous actions, she was still “not only comfortable sticking with (her) original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies”.
For those who haven’t heard about the controversy, Johnny Depp has been in the press consistently over the past year or so in regard to his divorce from Amber Heard and the allegations of abuse he has received during their bitter divorce proceedings. This all began after Heard filed the papers in 2016, turning up to the courthouse with a black eye. Despite the press coverage following her allegations, Depp suffered almost no professional consequences as a result of his actions.
Sparked by the #MeToo movement in recent months, there has been a real surge recently of women speaking out on public platforms about unwanted advances, sexual attacks and other forms of violence they have suffered from high profile celebrities, including the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Russell Simmons, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor and many others who have suffered severe professional losses in direct regard to their actions. Even Netflix cancelled the final series of House of Cards as a result of the allegations against Kevin Spacey, a decision which angered fans all over the world, however was deemed necessary by bosses regardless of the financial knock it would cause.
So why has J.K. Rowling, a woman who suffered years of violence and abuse at the hand of a man herself, a known advocate for women’s rights who has never been afraid to speak her mind on a number of feminist issues, and a supposed role model and inspiration to young people all over the world, decided to just sit back and oppose everything she has ever stood up for in the past?
Perhaps her reasoning is financial; recasting a lead role this late in the process would no doubt cost money, and maybe her greed has got the better of her. Perhaps it is because of sheer laziness. Perhaps it is because of Depp’s already huge fan base that he has gathered after decades in the industry. Perhaps it is for publicity. Perhaps, even, it is because she genuinely doesn’t care about the issues she has been so vocal about for years. Whatever her reasoning, it doesn’t matter. Her actions have divided fans across the world.
So as I read her statement for what feels like the hundredth time, all I can think of is that iconic quote she penned which helped guide my moral compass for years:
It is such a shame that, when faced with an issue where she would finally be able to show beyond doubt that she would stick to her own word, she did not. J.K. Rowling chose simply, what was easy, and I have never been more disappointed.