This casting is anathema.
September 27, 2018 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Why Casting Nagini as an Asian Woman in 'Fantastic Beasts' Is So Offensive [Vice] “There is no way to anticipate the plot of a movie that has been kept so tightly under wraps, but the trailer itself already perpetuates a number of harmful stereotypes about Asian women. Nagini, played by Claudia Kim, is in a cage while an audience watches her transform into a snake, echoing historical strains of the sexy, dangerous "dragon lady.” She also quite literally houses a piece of Voldemort’s soul, acting as a guarantor of his immortality, thus reifying the trope of Asian women as submissive. It is doubly hurtful because Nagini will be the second character of significance in the Harry Potter universe to be of East Asian heritage, following Cho Chang as Harry’s early love interest.” [YouTube][Trailer]

• The 'Fantastic Beasts 2' Controversy Shows We Won’t Accept Tired Stereotypes Anymore [Bustle]
“To understand why people are offended by Nagini's characterization, some context on the Potterverse is needed. In the wizarding world of Harry Potter, creatures ranging from house-elves to merpeople run rampant. Yet in both the book series and movie versions, this expansive world features very few characters of color, let alone characters of Asian descent. Cho Chang, one of Harry Potter’s classmates and an early love interest, is the only significant Asian character in the entire series. In 2015, actor and activist Dylan Marron, who compiled a video of all the lines spoken by characters of color in the original Harry Potter film series, wrote in a Facebook post that people of color spoke for five minutes and 40 seconds out of the series' combined 1,207 minutes — that's 0.47 percent of the entire series' runtime. The issue cited by fans is not just that Nagini is a character of Asian descent; it’s that in a fictional world where so few characters of color are represented, one of the few visible Asian characters plays into the stereotype of Asian women being cunning, mysterious, and villainous.”
• JK Rowling defends decision to cast South Korean actor as Nagini in Fantastic Beasts [The Guardian]
“The Fantastic Beasts series has previously attracted criticism for its largely white cast, and while some are excited by Kim’s role in the film, others have raised concerns about a South Korean actor playing the role of Nagini. In the Harry Potter books, the snake is a submissive character that is the property of villain Voldemort, who drinks her “milk” for strength before he is restored fully to his body. One critic wrote to Rowling on Twitter, saying “Listen Joanne, we get it, you didn’t include enough representation when you wrote the books. But suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage.” Rowling responded,
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 🐍 ~ 7:11 AM - 26 Sep 2018, @jk_rowling
• J.K. Rowling retconning Harry Potter on Twitter has consequences [Polygon]
“This is the issue that Harry Potter fans find themselves confronting in real time on Twitter. It may seem fun to Rowling, but it comes off as performative on Twitter when those pronouncements don’t end up in canonical work. Twitter makes it easy to send a quick reply to someone looking for an answer to a long-winded theory (like whether Nagini is the same boa constrictor Harry meets in Philosopher’s Stone) or announce a character’s sexuality or backstory. There’s rarely harm in announcing a more diverse, inclusive and representative Wizarding World, but the more announcements made without any canonical backing, the more performative each announcement seems. It almost never seems like these characters were originally written with these backstories in place. It’s one thing to say something is real, and another for it to actually be real.”
posted by Fizz (119 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
What the fuck, why even turn the fucking snake into a person. It worked great as a goddamn snake. Seems entirely unnecessary and would be dumb even without the race issues.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:04 PM on September 27, 2018 [36 favorites]


*sighs*

I'm so tired of this shit. Two years ago I made a post about something very similar. JK really needs to just shut the fuck up and stop trying to retcon her universe. It's so very exhausting to see this happen time and time again. Fuck.
posted by Fizz at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


"Pet of Nazi-Stand-In for Children's Book Actually Asian Woman"
-Onion (I wish)
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:14 PM on September 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


Jo......stop............i know u mean well but.....it’s not helping..
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Are all prequels bad? This reminds me of Star Wars. Some things don't need a back story.
posted by Mavri at 1:16 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I see a lot of attempted defenses of JK Rowling, along the lines of "It's not a retcon! This has always been Nagini's story, since the beginning! She's always been a former human that could become a snake, but is now entirely 100% giant snake with a snake brain!" That just means she's had 20 years to reconsider maybe she don't need to give this giant snake who becomes the literal vessel of an evil soul and then gets its head chopped off a backstory at all. No one was wondering "Hey, where did Voldemort, one of the most powerful magicians of all time, get this giant snake from?"
posted by muddgirl at 1:21 PM on September 27, 2018 [12 favorites]


On top of everything else, this means that perfect cinnamon roll Nevill Longbottom is now a murderer.

So, fuck this. The Torah is not in heaven.
posted by nonasuch at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2018 [27 favorites]


Rowling has many gifts, breaking entrenched literary racial stereotypes is not one of them.
posted by GuyZero at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2018 [12 favorites]


@muddgirl Even if someone does ask that, the answer could easily be "a jungle."
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


And, as someone pointed out on twitter, she's also a *cannibal* Asian woman since it's canon that she was fed the bodies of Voldemort's victims.
posted by tavella at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


No but see she was a snake when she ate those corpses, 100% large snake, so it's not weird or anything. Like all of Rowling's "interesting and vital" backstories, they don't matter at all and have no bearing on the plot or how we view the characters.
posted by muddgirl at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Scroll for a bit to see J.K. get schooled by people actually from Asia who are familiar with the mythology.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:30 PM on September 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


The only valid HP timeline for me is books 1-7. Anything before or after that exists outside of the reasonable scope of the series. Rowling is nuts for thinking this stuff in the first place.
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:32 PM on September 27, 2018 [15 favorites]


I watched Star Wars: Rogue One this morning for the first time and was happy to see that there was a Jedi portrayed by an Asian actor. I was less happy when he broke out the martial arts.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:36 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Jo......stop............i know u mean well but.....it’s not helping..

Agreed.
She's been lauded for being Clever On Twitter in the past, and she's evidently reading her own press clippings when it comes to social media.
The big conceit here is that she believes that folks are hanging on her every word there, when, in actuality we hung on her every word in Books 1-7; everything else just muddies the waters and detracts from what a great little series it was.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:37 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't understand the need for this. Nagini was a big giant snake that worked with Voldemort. Awesome. I don't need to know anything else; there comes a point where a story gets too much embroidery around the edges and it detracts from the central thing that the story was doing. Step away from it, and let it go. Pile the racial stuff on top of it, and it just gets...really gross on top of being unnecessary.

But maybe this is another problem with the rabid fandoms; the creators can't walk away easily and they also start to think that every idea is golden.
posted by nubs at 1:40 PM on September 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


"JK Rowling, crying desperately: the sorting hat was trans" — @chaeronaea
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 1:50 PM on September 27, 2018 [53 favorites]


Yeah JK, continued fame and fortune is a helluva drug. Makes you hard of hearing, or worse, tone deaf.

One can hope that Nagiri starts as a good character who is later enslaved and her soul evicted from the snake in favor of the horcrux.

And maybe Alison 'A Fine Frenzy' Sudol (Queenie) will become as good an actress as she is as a singer / songwriter. Boy am I living in a made-up world.

Also Hermione Grainger posting in this thread: eponysterical
posted by zaixfeep at 1:54 PM on September 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


"JK Rowling, crying desperately: the sorting hat was trans" — @chaeronaea

she does have a habit of being "middle aged" and liking terfy shit
posted by anem0ne at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


Are all prequels bad? This reminds me of Star Wars. Some things don't need a back story.

Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad. Black Sails started badly but by the end of the series was a good companion piece to Treasure Island. The Godfather Part II is only half-prequel so I can't say for sure if it counts, but it is at least as good as The Godfather.

Prequels aren't inherently bad, but they present challenges that other stories don't and not every writer is capable of meeting those challenges. Rowling's popularity has always baffled me a little so I'm probably not the best person to judge her deftness with prequels.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Scroll for a bit to see J.K. get schooled by people actually from Asia who are familiar with the mythology.

Her tweeted reply (quoted above) made me see red - it's painfully obvious that she couldn't be bothered to do more than even the most cursory Google in reply, and then throwing in that last line, as if the people who knew enough about nagas/naginis to school her needed to be lectured on Indonesia's demographics? Fucking gross and condescending.
posted by Anita Bath at 2:03 PM on September 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


"Nāgiṇi" isn't (originally) Indonesian, it's Sanskrit— it's the female form of nāga, a cobra but also a snake deity. (And a D&D monster.) Nagas are part of Indonesian culture due to the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism from India.

Fun etymological fact: nāga is cognate to 'snake'.
posted by zompist at 2:10 PM on September 27, 2018 [30 favorites]


I am so repulsed by everything that's happened since Fantastic Breasts came out I can't even comfortably use this username anymore
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:15 PM on September 27, 2018 [28 favorites]


Fantastic Beasts

not breasts jfc
posted by Hermione Granger at 2:21 PM on September 27, 2018 [136 favorites]


I watched Star Wars: Rogue One this morning for the first time and was happy to see that there was a Jedi portrayed by an Asian actor.

This is a minor derail, I guess, but there are no Jedi in Rogue One. Chirrut, despite his belief in the Force, is not a Jedi.
posted by hanov3r at 2:31 PM on September 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


The only good thing about this is how I can use it to torment my friends who are Harry Potter fans. It's not as fun as the "vanishing the evidence" tweet though.

I literally don't know a single Harry Potter fan who welcomes Rowling's pronouncements about her story, who is interested in them beyond being morbidly curious, etc....

And apart from the obvious racism, it's just so ... each of these pronouncements takes away some of the original magic of the series. The desire to explain everything isn't a good one, even if your explanations aren't batshit or offensive.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


"JK Rowling, crying desperately: the sorting hat was trans" — @chaeronaea

There was a good Twitter bot generating these things and they didn't come up with anything worse than "actually, Nagini was an Asian woman"
posted by BungaDunga at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hermione Granger, in my opinion your username is as excellent as ever.
posted by Songdog at 2:48 PM on September 27, 2018 [13 favorites]


I think I saw Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them on Cinemax late one night.
posted by dr_dank at 3:07 PM on September 27, 2018 [15 favorites]


The trouble is Rowling has previous form for using beligerant ignorance to excuse her racisim in relation to he extended Potterverse.

Remember when people said her presentation of Native peoples use of Magic in the founding of the Americas was (ahem) problematic?

Plus she still champions J. Depp being cast as Grindelwald so has zero credibility on many fronts.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:13 PM on September 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


There were no solid markers to confirm a lived experience of homosexuality, no representation that might suggest to young, gay readers that they too could grow up to be the world’s most powerful wizard.

Sadly, none of us grows up to be the world most powerful wizard.
posted by vorpal bunny at 3:14 PM on September 27, 2018 [8 favorites]



Why Casting Nagini as an Asian Woman in 'Fantastic Beasts' Is So Offensive


My god that it even has to be asked as a question it’s so blatantly obvious as a bad idea on many, many levels.
posted by Artw at 3:19 PM on September 27, 2018


There's a thing, in the last ten years or so, where hip white pop-culture magnates, especially those who work in comedy and SF, where they're more attuned to issues of representation and inclusion, just keep screwing it up when it comes to Asian (and Latinx) characters. JKR (who I think did a fine job of making Cho Chang "incidentally" Asian, though she occupied a weird place as the only Asian in that universe) is the latest, after Tina Fey blew it and then kept digging in Ubreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The Whedonverse famously has an entire Sino-American empire with no Chinese people in it (though the white and black cast regularly curses in Chinese) and other Whedon shows aren't much for representation either (even if he kind of addressed this, in a meta-way.)Community did okay with making Chang's ethnicity like, the third or fourth foremost thing about him at least, but it was still troublesome. In SF, it might actually be Lost that handled this best, giving its two Korean main cast members deep inner lives and backstories that transcended stereotypes.

Basically, get Asian women and Asian men into writers rooms. Until you do, you won't be writing them properly and likely won't be thinking to include them most of the time either.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:24 PM on September 27, 2018 [38 favorites]


Via The Mary Sue: “Not explicitly,” Yates replied when asked if the film makes it clear that Dumbledore is gay. “But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald when they were young men. They fell in love with each other’s ideas, and ideology and each other.”

I called it last week, publicity event "word of god," and fandom material used to rationalize keeping LGBTQ people as subtext. Rowling would probably get a bit less criticism if she didn't keep giving herself mulligans on blind spots in her stories.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:28 PM on September 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


A bit that has always stuck in my head from the Harry Potter films is the moment in Order of the Phoenix when the students return to Hogwarts after the Christmas holidays and Cho Chang is waiting for Harry at the entrance to the school. But Harry and Hermione and Ron dash off to see Hagrid, leaving Cho standing there alone on the steps. No magical adventures for her!
posted by cyanistes at 3:28 PM on September 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


In SF, it might actually be Lost that handled this best, giving its two Korean main cast members deep inner lives and backstories that transcended stereotypes.

There is no trophy for this, but if there were I'd lobby for it going to The Expanse.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:33 PM on September 27, 2018 [16 favorites]


Fantasy author Tasha Suri has some questions about "representation," world-building, and the Patil twins.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


(And as for UKS, I appreciate Fey making the original male romantic lead a hot Asian dude, and his characterization wasn't entirely one-note, but he still hit a ton of stereotypical boxes, and when people complained, she made a whole episode in Season 2 about dismissing those complaints, which is sickening for a writer I otherwise really love.)
posted by Navelgazer at 3:38 PM on September 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


JK Rowling's Harry Potter books are kinda racist.
posted by JamesBay at 3:39 PM on September 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


part of me, as someone from MENA, is thinking: at least y'all's villain characters get names and backstories!! at least you're occasionally getting non-villain characters!!

that is how fucking low the floor is, where having a named villain represents an improvement over the status quo, where having a minor character with a grand total of one line who isn't a villain represents an improvement over that improvement, where having a major character whose characterization is comprised of a bundle of stereotypes represents a further improvement, where having a nuanced major character played by a white person somehow also represents an improvement, where having a nuanced major character played by the right ethnicity in an otherwise all-white cast is fucking applauded.
posted by perplexion at 3:45 PM on September 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


I've always felt that Rowling's bumbling attempts at being an ally are very much a part of the lazy, obvious world-building that litters the HP universe. So many things from spell names to magical objects and creatures are just really flat and one-dimensional. It's... okay in a children's book, but I never really understood the popularity when a host of kids/YA authors before, during and after, were throwing out incredibly complex, diverse magical worlds.

I get that she obvs has regrets her books represent a very white, male, straight, dominant worldview - so make the next ones better, stop pretending they are retrospectively woke.
posted by smoke at 4:05 PM on September 27, 2018 [23 favorites]


Paying attention to Rowling and her add-ins is certainly undermining anything they were actually good at at this point, which is a shame as I’d say that was quite a lot of things.

so make the next ones better

And yes, this.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Rowling references and makes use of a standard children's literary genre of the Colonial and post-Colonial era -- the boarding school novel -- without ever examining or subverting any of its tropes.

I find the books are still enjoyable, but JKR's writing and worldview has a definite "Little England" or British sensibility that I remember from the expats and immigrants I grew up with here in Canada in the 70s and 80s.
posted by JamesBay at 4:10 PM on September 27, 2018 [20 favorites]


She also quite literally houses a piece of Voldemort’s soul, acting as a guarantor of his immortality, thus reifying the trope of Asian women as submissive.

I did not RTFA or the books, but from what I gather isn't Harry also a storage bin for Voldy's soul?
posted by runcibleshaw at 4:14 PM on September 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


What if... harry potter was always trash?
posted by ethansr at 4:17 PM on September 27, 2018 [35 favorites]


And yeah, if you're looking for a some books that are heavy on pun names, British cultural references, and amazingly drawn characters, might I recommend the Discworld novels instead? (and magic and dragons and witches and boarding schools and more than a few problematic things)
posted by runcibleshaw at 4:21 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


If that trailer is predominately interpretable as offensive to any one culture, it has to be the British.
posted by sfenders at 4:40 PM on September 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


As an Asian parent of a young Harry Potter fan, this depresses me. I'll pass on the 'Fantastic Beasts' series and will try to deflect it from the HP fan who still enjoys HP.
posted by gen at 4:44 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I never read the Harry Potter series, although I've absorbed them by osmosis and also read a lot of fanfic and seen the movies. The reason I never read them was that I was offered an early edition of the first one (and don't I wish I had bought it!) and loftily rejected it as being “Billy Bunter on a broomstick”.

And you know, that's basically true: the series relies heavily on stereotypes from the British boarding school stories that used to be so massively popular in the UK, and this is nowhere clearer than in Rowling's treatment of race and class. Boarding school stories initially appeared in the (many!) weekly magazines aimed primarily at English schoolchildren, and the fantasy world they offered was primarily one in which protagonists like themselves were clean, well fed, and secure; ensconced in a spacious and grounded boarding school in which the arbitrary terrors of all-powerful parents was replaced by the very-circumscribed powers of schoolmasters and mistresses. The ongoing protagonists were white, Christian (but not explicitly devout), and about as exotic as a ham sandwich.

Despite this normalisation of English uniformity the authors occasionally introduced characters with different racial/religious backgrounds. It was typically just for the use of a particular story, though: they would appear, display their differences, and depart. I don't criticise those authors. I think they were actually a progressive force for their time. The golden age of these stories was around 1900-1940, with a lot less multiculturalism and a lot more social exclusion. The stories let British kids imagine going to school with someone from India, even if their presence was explained by them being the son of a Rajah; it modeled acceptance of other faiths, even if we would now find the description of the Jewish character patronisingly one-dimensional.

The trouble is: that was then; this is now. Rowling's non-Anglo characters are essentially defined by their difference. She hasn't moved beyond a model that is literally a century old. The Patils and other non-Anglo characters aren't there because they're interesting in their own right; they're there to add depth to other people's stories. To the extent that any of them are featured their difference is merely a handle that lets you identify who's speaking, not something that reflects a personal history that extends to their time before Hogwarts. It's a shame, because (IMO like many things about this series) it could have been so much better.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:46 PM on September 27, 2018 [38 favorites]


Print SFF and YA is globalizing and diversifying in interesting ways, so I agree with Joe in Australia that Rowling is looking pretty quaint in comparison.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:50 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am so repulsed by everything that's happened since Fantastic Breasts came out I can't even comfortably use this username anymore
posted by Hermione Granger
Greatest eponysterical typo ever. I am now imagining Hermione hosting a cooking show, showing how to make the perfect chicken parmigiana.
posted by daybeforetheday at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


I get that she obvs has regrets her books represent a very white, male, straight, dominant worldview - so make the next ones better, stop pretending they are retrospectively woke.

I think she knows that nothing she does in the future will have the impact of Harry Potter. I can't prove it or anything, but my secret personal suspicion is she keeps doing this shitty retconning stuff because she wants to keep inventing and creating, and knows that if she did it as part of a new project it wouldn't reach as many people.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:53 PM on September 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Wish she'd been left to do that detective thing people didn't really care about in peace, really. Or that Lumos took up more of her time.
posted by Artw at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


On a more serious note, I'm really tired of J K Rowling's continual bumbling missteps.
posted by daybeforetheday at 5:57 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


In SF, it might actually be Lost that handled this best, giving its two Korean main cast members deep inner lives and backstories that transcended stereotypes.

There is no trophy for this, but if there were I'd lobby for it going to The Expanse.


Uh... what about Hikaru Sulu? Pretty remarkable for the sixties. (The rest of Trek is a mixed bag; an Asian crew member isn't part of the main cast again until Harry Kim in Voyager, with Enterprise having Hoshi Sato. I'd say that their portrayals were kind of a mixed bag overall.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:40 PM on September 27, 2018


Thought this previous Metafilter post on Cho Chang is also a good re-read/re-watch. She knew about the Asian community's unhappiness with Cho Chang, and this Nagini re-write/casting just feels like she's adamantly refusing to listen and doubling down on the ugly racial stereotypes.
posted by aielen at 7:01 PM on September 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


I've always felt that Rowling's bumbling attempts at being an ally are very much a part of the lazy, obvious world-building that litters the HP universe. So many things from spell names to magical objects and creatures are just really flat and one-dimensional. It's... okay in a children's book, but I never really understood the popularity when a host of kids/YA authors before, during and after, were throwing out incredibly complex, diverse magical worlds.

The redheaded Weasleys are weasels
White (Moon) haired space cadet Luna Lovegood
Draco Malfoy, the antagonist boy named "evil dragon"
Fleur Delacour, "flower of the heart"
Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf named "wolf wolf"
Gilderoy Lockhart, vain wizard named after his flowing golden hair
Remus Lupin, another werewolf named "wolf wolf"
Olympe Maxime, half giantess
Newt Scamander the animal collector, doubly named "lizard lizard"
Rita Skeeter the insect animagus
Salazar Slytherin, master of snakes
Pomona Sprout, herbology professor

Sure they're evocative but not exactly subtle.
posted by scalefree at 11:41 PM on September 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


The Patil twins are also Asian - India is part of Asia.

Also my hot take is that if they're going to make Nagini an Asian complicit in Wizard Nazis, it would make some sense to make her South Asian.

I'm basing this on having an uncle named Hitler. When I asked my mum why, she said that around the time of Partition, what people of her generation in the Subcontinent knew about Hitler is that he was anti-British, and thus some kind of anti-colonial hero.

She claims that they didn't know about the Holocaust, but I suspect that if they did know they didn't care. Many Muslim countries (like Malaysia or Bangladesh) are hugely anti-Semitic. The Jews are the reason for all bad things. Activists, artists, LGBTQ people, anyone vaguely deviant, are "foreign Zionist agents". Malay Muslim Nazis exist. They're still very anti-White - and Jews are the worst Whites of them all.

Also sure the Nazis stole "Aryan" and the swastika from the Subcontinent, but again I doubt they would have minded. Caucasia is Central Asia and North India. During anti-Asian Immigration in the US an Indian man tried to sue the Government claiming that since Indians are technically Caucasian they should count as White for Immigration purposes. He lost the case - but it could have still worked.

This is much more sophisticated than I'd trust JK Rowling to understand. It's not discussed enough. It's poorly understood. But it makes a sick sort of sense. As it is, we still have zero idea about the Shafiq family, who are in the Sacred 28 Pureblood Families - Nagini could have been a Shafiq.

(Also, knowing she was a circus performer, they could have cast me!! I've done circus! My actual last name is Shafiq! I'd absorb all the discourse!!)
posted by divabat at 12:19 AM on September 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


That Rowling keeps getting racial and gender identity issues so terribly wrong is especially disappointing for how fantastically she has been reimagining masculinity, particularly in the last Fantastic Beasts in a way that looks like it will shine through in this sequel from the trailer.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:01 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


She gonna do a controversial retcon every film now? It's all great publicity, gets everyone talking. Next up... Vincent Crabbe used to be an actual crab!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:08 AM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


She's like the reverse GRRM. He can't buckle down and finish up his world; she, having finished, won't leave it be.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:18 AM on September 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


The 13 year old me, just post-Azkaban, was absolutely desperate to hear every single pronouncement made by JK Rowling, so be careful what you wish for, i guess.

I wonder if HP became quite so big initially because it coincided with the rise of internet being accessible to your average teenager. My Chamber of Secrets account is old enough to drink now.
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:43 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


And of course we would be remiss to not mention Severus Snape, the hook-nosed, greasy-haired, duplicitous shot-for-shot Shylock remake perpetrated in The Year of Our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-Seven. At least he turned into a character four books later. I devoured the books as they came out but man, even at the time I remember chafing at the lazy af stereotyping.
posted by range at 5:09 AM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


That typo reminds me of this great Button Poetry video (NSFW)
posted by cozenedindigo at 5:25 AM on September 28, 2018


The success of Crazy Rich Asians, which is not surprising at all to anyone with a thinking brain, would I hope open up a few more eyes and diversifies what stories are being told/adapted. I'm not holding my breath, but the amount of money that CRA generated might open up a few eyes in Hollywood, even if they aren't going to diversify for all of the right reasons, they might for self-interested financial ones.

I'd love for something like N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy or Saladin Ahmed's Throne of a Crescent Moon to be adapted for the big screen or even the smaller one, looked at you Netflix.
posted by Fizz at 5:29 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I was already on the fence about Fantastic Beasts 2 with the whole Johnny Depp thing and now this so that's an easy pass for me. I'm fine with that, there's so many movies on my to watch list that are way less problematic and I'll express my opinion through my money.
posted by like_neon at 5:54 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


You can always tell when a certain kind of writer creates characters to project their issues onto and punish, or are in some bizarre sexual competition with their own fictional creations: the GOT showrunners are guilty of one of the more blatant male nerd versions, literally not having the male characters in competition with their author inserts bathe; you can tell who’s supposed to be sympathetic by the amount (a little but not too much) of grime the makeup department put on them. There was always a disturbing sadism and vindictiveness at work in HP— like Rowling really enjoyed being able to act out hateful fantasies on her characters, like “Slaves just want to make me a sandwich” or “I wish that annoying secretary would go get gang raped.” Cho Chang always existed as a foil for Ginny, JKR’s self-insert character— a strawman Asian character whose only purpose was to make the red-haired plucky heroine look good. Engineering another evil East Asian— specifically Korean— seductress is too much for coincidence tbh— I would put money on JKR having issues with East Asian women in some personal, inappropriate way, like if internet sleuths wanted to dig they would find out that her high school crush or her baby daddy left her for a Korean girl whose proxies she’s been punishing via fiction for 20 years. There’s a certain spider sense of “this racist/misogynist rage has its basis in something IRL and ugly” that’s hard to ignore.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:00 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yeah, at this point there's so much of a glut of nerd stuff coming out right now, I kind of appreciate when they make it easy for me to decide to pass on it.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:00 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


As a Korean I call bullshit on the Nagini being an East Asian thing. Apart from the Twitter response from people who are more academically knowledgeable about the subject than I am, I can tell you from personal experience that I have not heard of snakes having a significant role in East Asian mythology and even the word "nagini" does not code particuarly East Asian to me. Dragons, bears, tigers, fish, yes. Snakes? Not really. I mean, heck, snakes are more associated with western mythology (you know, the baddy from the Garden of Eden) to me than east asian mythology.

But even if I were were to take this (false) foundation in good faith it's not delivered in good faith. The way it has been depicted is not to enlighten the audience about its origins in any sort of respectful or educational way. Instead, the character is being depicted in a shallow, lazy, disrespectful, and stereotypical way. And I'm really offended that JK is being so patronising with her response.
posted by like_neon at 6:04 AM on September 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


And yeah, condescending to her critics with that smug copy+paste wikipedia entry about Indonesia with a snake emoji is disgusting, a microaggression in itself.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 6:07 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


The thing is, this franchise has always been problematic. Even when the books were still being released during their hey-day, people of colour, minorities, lgbtq, etc, we noticed then and we're still noticing now. It's just that the hype machine was so much stronger back then. Twitter and 2018 being a bit more aware or "woke" makes it that much harder to ignore. People's voices will no longer be silenced. We call out bullshit and we call it out loudly. If it needs to be screamed from the tops of a mountain for people to notice, then so be it.
posted by Fizz at 6:07 AM on September 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


"nagini" does not code particuarly East Asian to me. Dragons, bears, tigers, fish, yes. Snakes? Not really.

I always coded it as from Indian mythology/lingual roots. That's just my take on it.
posted by Fizz at 6:11 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Rowling references and makes use of a standard children's literary genre of the Colonial and post-Colonial era -- the boarding school novel -- without ever examining or subverting any of its tropes.


Yes- read George Orwell's "Boys' Weeklies" and you will see exactly what Rowling modeled her world on.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:17 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I always coded it as from Indian mythology/lingual roots. That's just my take on it.

Oh yes, same, for example the visual of Indian snake charmers. But I don't associate snakes with the group of Asians depicted in the movie which is more China/Korea/Japan (and with the actress being Korean). By using Claudia Kim, the overriding association is instead the negative stereotypes pointed out in the FPP, not whatever "Well actually snakes = Indonesia" bullshit JK is trying to peddle to me.
posted by like_neon at 6:27 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Well actually snakes = Indonesia" bullshit JK is trying to peddle to me.

Her response to that one tweet seems like the most lazy wikipedia google search ever. And it stinks of “Well, actually...” ugh. JK has all of this influence and could easily elevate the conversation.

I mentioned this in a previous thread when she appropriated first nations/native american culture. I'd be fine with JK wanting to expand her magical world and universe, but you know what, maybe invite people from these communities/spaces/cultures to guest-write on your blog or your site or whatever. Raise up those people and use your power to magnify their talent and their insight.

But no, instead of using her platform to amplify and inspire, she doubles-down on tired ass bullshit.
posted by Fizz at 6:35 AM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


She can definitely afford to hire sensitivity readers, at least.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:39 AM on September 28, 2018


“nagini" does not code particuarly East Asian to me. Dragons, bears, tigers, fish, yes. Snakes? Not really.

I always coded it as from Indian mythology/lingual roots. That's just my take on it.


Sanskrit.
My guess is she got it directly from Nagaina, the evil king cobra mother from Rudyard Kipling’s “Rikki Tikki Tavi”— either the short story or the 1975 Chuck Jones animated adaptation— and then did the most very basic research on Nagas to not just copy+paste the name, rather than having any kind of legit knowledge or interest in the actual mythology.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 7:19 AM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


If anyone is looking for good jazz-age SFF, I really liked Broken-Time Blues.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:26 AM on September 28, 2018


"People's voices will no longer be silenced. We call out bullshit and we call it out loudly." My hope is that it will become a lot harder for white/male/privileged authors and creators to get away with these things. This will prove intimidating and many white/male/privileged identity creators might back off a little and increase their expectations of themselves if only to avoid facing the backlash (because we know without the backlash few were challenging themselves to do this on their own). Hopefully authors from minority and disenfranchised groups will find there works more sought and given the credit due for their works ability to embrace, understand, and educate the world on the inner experiences of groups of people who have been disenfranchised and the visions of how to create a world that embraces diversity and empathy and awareness.


White and male authors and creators will still produce works and as the landscape changes and people are growing up seeing what the standards for works of art that truly uplift humanity and enhance the understanding of the human experience even white, male, and privileged writers and creators will be more capable of participating without feeling blind-sided by a whole realm of experiences of people who have been silenced and are now being granted voice.


Any authors and creators overwhelmed by the voices pointing out how they have failed to understand the diversity of human experiences and misrepresented groups of people to great harm, should feel totally comfortable taking a break from writing or creating and practicing the art of listening, learning, and growing.

As an animist/polytheist/magical practitioner I get a sense that Jk really believes she is trying to tap into a worldwide love of magic. The problem is that she does not understand the world and has never had to understand the world. She barely touched the surface of creating a fantasy magical world that taps into real brittish magical traditions, let alone those of people she has no understanding of and has not TRIED to have an understanding of. In this era if you want to write characters from a particular culture as major international author you need to read extensively from that culture and to speak with people from that culture about their desires for representation. She would have learned very quickly that the world is not united in one magical tradition that mirrors Brittish traditions.

The term magic actually comes from Persia, and a great deal of ancient hermeticism and magical traditions were imported to Greece and Rome. Brittish magic is influenced by early Celtic and Anglo Saxon traditions combined with Roman polytheism and finally a layer of Christianity over most of what we have written today. There are plenty of traditions around the world she could have found a real link to, however many forms of spirit working in the world are NOT considered "magic" in the way magic is used in Harry Potter. Many of us who practice witchcraft also do not practice magic in the way described in Harry Potter (if I could do that shit we would have a much better world by now.)

The errors in Harry Potter reflect a shared mindset of a lot of whites in the 90's and 2010's, an ignorance of all but white culture and an ignorance of people WITHIN white dominant culture that was never questioned. She is a product of a culture that fed and tolerated these attitudes at the expense of the suffering of minority voices whose experiences threatened white fragility and white's preservation of their chosen ignorance to their own comfort and gain. As much as I can empathize with all that, it's painful to watch the trainwreck of JK demonstrating how harmfully and seemingly willfully ignorant she is. She rekindled a love for magic and for that, I am glad for her work. Harry Potter will and should be held up to the light of better understanding. That work is part of the same work I believe that was at the heart of Harry Potter, even though JK remains limited to the point of hampering her own core message in bringing these changes to life in the world. I think she can feel the energetic power of this era and that it is larger than just brittish magic and she wants to participate and tap into that movement. A lot of the same people who are standing up to JK Rowling now, were her in the 1990's and early 2000's. I think plenty of us would have been happy to see her simply own up to the limitations of Harry Potter and admit she is still growing. I am sad for JK but delighted for the world that this is just not acceptable anymore.


JK- you did your bit- the people of the new era got this. You can back off, and enjoy the birth of great things in the world. It is done, the magic is unleashed and it is beyond you now. If you want to come back to engagement you need to reflect, listen, make apologies, admit you are learning, and truly change. Stop trying to write for other cultures because you're bad at it, instead use your power to highlight their own works or seek collaborations in which you truly hear the voices of the community you're trying to write the perspective of. You might even enjoy getting in touch with the real magical community in Britain instead of just writing about us to sell books because of the power in the human heart of the love of magic. I don't say this because I don't love you, but because I do. I believe you still can have a place in this movement, if you choose reflection, understanding and, change; but you're making it harder and harder for that to happen. People are telling you how to make this better. Listen. The people are strong, they can, will, and should chew up your harmful works and actions and discard them. I say this for you- please listen and choose change.
posted by xarnop at 7:28 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


There's a lot that JK does wrong, but a what I find gets skipped over in conversations about her is that she really hates fat people. Trying to re-read the books as an adult was impossible.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:36 AM on September 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


If anyone is looking for good jazz-age SFF, I really liked Broken-Time Blues.

Oh is this where we can recommend some really good Asian SF or Fantasy. Because, I'll throw a recommendation for Jade City by Fonda Lee.
“Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for -- and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone -- even foreigners -- wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones -- from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets -- and of Kekon itself.”
posted by Fizz at 9:00 AM on September 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I don't know why I'm sharing this with you all, maybe because misery love company, maybe because I want everyone to know that this whole snake business was absolutely terrible from the get-go, maybe because of Hermione Granger's typo. Before I share, let's revisit this passage:
“Where is Nagini?” said the cold voice.
“I I don’t know, my Lord,” said the first voice nervously. “She set out to explore the house, I think. . . .”
“You will milk her before we retire, Wormtail,” said the second voice. “I will need feeding in the night. The journey has tired me greatly.”
And now I'd like to share with you some unused, original concept art for the books. (NSFW)
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:18 AM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


THAT IS NOT HOW THAT WORKS.

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

OH GOD.
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think that's concept art for the movies, not for the books, based on the reference provided. Still hella creepy.
posted by muddgirl at 9:31 AM on September 28, 2018


ugh, this squeamishness is silly, how else do you think snake venom gets milked

hold on I'm being handed a note
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2018 [23 favorites]


"nagini" does not code particuarly East Asian to me. Dragons, bears, tigers, fish, yes. Snakes? Not really.

esp. if someone were even remotely familiar with korean mythology, they'd probably reach for foxes (well, gumiho) instead.

esp. if someone wanted something malicious.

even league of legends got that right.
posted by anem0ne at 9:46 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've been raving about JY Yang and Yoon Ha Lee (both award nominees). Yoon Ha Lee is an author where I'd recommend sampling his short fiction before diving into Ninefox Gambit, since he's pretty deep into the realm of magic-like technology described through figurative(?) language. If you like your SF with explanation about why things work, you'll probably be dissatisfied. And of course, Ted Chiang. On a lighter note, Sarah Kuhn's Heroine Complex was a nice light read. I also picked up Aliette de Bodard's The Tea Master and the Detective via a review by Liz Bourke. I've also heard some good things about C. B. Lee.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:46 AM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I read all the HP books to my kids over the course of a few months last year; it was a nice way to keep encouraging them to read, a story they enjoyed, plus the bonus of a promise to watch each movie after we finished each book.

One thing really stood out to my wife and I on the re-read:

What a mean, abusive, weird society it was. Snape in particular was vicious and cruel to students in a way that is just deeply uncomfortable (and I wonder how Harry ever got potty trained in that house. The Dursleys are just vile). And somehow the idea that Snape gets redeemed because what he did, he did to try to protect Harry just falls flat, and what makes me uncomfortable is the idea that this man who was horribly abusive to students is defended by Dumbledore - who is otherwise the authority figure who comes in (often late) to solve most other problems - which leaves me wondering what it says to kids about authority protecting abusers and that the abusers might have some hidden, good ulterior motive.
posted by nubs at 10:01 AM on September 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


Quoting what is clearly a wikipedia-level understanding of mythologies back to folks who actually know/grew up knowing those mythologies is indeed particularly bad on Rowling's part. As bad as her TERF tendencies or wading into an anti-semitism row when she spent 7 books writing about greedy hook-nosed gold-obsessed bankers, no, but just bare-faced and self-satisfied in the traditional well-heeled UK liberal sort of way.

But hey, if we're recommending jazz-age fantasy, I'd love to push Lara Elena Donnelly's Amberlough, which I also found through a review by Liz Bourke. Great secondary world Weimar Germany-inspired spy thriller with well-written characters whose queerness wasn't added in later as an afterthought. A good exploration of cowardice and collaboration with rising fascists too.
posted by ocular shenanigans at 10:05 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


the idea that this man who was horribly abusive to students is defended

Makes the books seem all the more realistic.

It is somewhat historical and history, meaning right now and everytime and place is pretty awful. Should all our stories be set in an equally pretend Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communistic society where everyone is good people? Help people be aware of the problems but it's a story about the zeitgeist of a repressive society.
posted by sammyo at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2018


I agree, sammyo, that it is a representation of a repressive society, and in fact my wife and I frequently discussed the parallels between the books and what seems the current political nightmare. I think it does a pretty good job on that front. And I don't expect all fiction for kids to be nice or provide easy answers, either. But not only does the system, via Dumbledore, protect Snape from consequence, in the end Dumbledore convinces Harry that Snape is a hero, too, instead of a more nuanced view of Snape being a man who did a lot of vile things, was not a great person, but also did some good. How it gets played is maybe realistic, but I think there's room for more nuance there that I wish the story had taken - because one of the things the books tried to do at various points was to demonstrate that people were complex, and capable of both good and bad things.
posted by nubs at 10:49 AM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's entirely possible that adherence to terrible tropes is actually what makes the HP books as immensely popular as they are. The wish-fulfilment orphan story, the English boarding school story, the tertiary cardboard-cutout ethnic characters to add flavour, the moral nobility of poor lower-class characters versus the decadent wealthy upper-class, "greedy hook-nosed gold-obsessed bankers" - these tropes are exactly why so many people are able to mainline these novels, because they tap into a deep literary shared unconscious in a satisfying way.

It's just not possible for Rowling to break away from these tropes because they're the foundation of the books. They'll always be problematic and every time she digs herself deeper into the hole it's because holes only go one way.
posted by GuyZero at 10:51 AM on September 28, 2018 [16 favorites]


because one of the things the books tried to do at various points was to demonstrate that people were complex, and capable of both good and bad things.

And this is what upset me most about the ending of the book/films. After all was said and done, all the death, the war, the suffering of so many, she had this perfect chance to write that Hogwarts was moving to a one school, one house where everyone learns and works together. But instead, there's this return to 4 houses and how some houses are better than others.

You have this Twenty Years later crap where Harry's son is worried about being sorted into the "wrong" house, that he might be "evil" because of this association. Maybe this is just a very specific thing in my brain, but I really wanted her to do away with the houses and show that everyone worked together to defeat evil.
posted by Fizz at 11:01 AM on September 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I really wanted her to do away with the houses and show that everyone worked together to defeat evil.

I had felt the books were building to that, myself, but it never paid off in any meaningful way, which is maybe where my frustration with Snape's arc boils over as it has.
posted by nubs at 11:06 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think the fact that Rowling wrote the very last chapter of book 7 near the beginning of the process and then never rethought it at all is a shining example of how she is such a good writer but she shoots herself in the foot.
posted by muddgirl at 11:06 AM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


You have this Twenty Years later crap where Harry's son is worried about being sorted into the "wrong" house, that he might be "evil" because of this association.

The epilogue is terrible and I hate it. Aside from the everything is the sameness of the houses still existing, they all marry their high school sweethearts and have kids. It's so . . . traditional. Maybe it's because I come from a small town in a red state, but it really bugs me that the life trajectory of the most conservative people I grew up with is held out as a happy ending.
posted by Mavri at 11:45 AM on September 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


I really wanted her to do away with the houses and show that everyone worked together to defeat evil.

A while back I saw a tweet/something on tumblr/whatever that suggested the series would have been so much better if Harry had been sorted into Slytherin, Hermione into Ravenclaw and Ron into Hufflepuff and they had to overcome the house structure / prejudices to work together. It kinda blew my mind at the time.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:03 PM on September 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


I can buy that they're all looking for like post-war domestic bliss and they all moved to the wizarding suburbs and had 2.5 children, but there would also be a a lot of divorces just like we saw in the US in the 60s.

I always liked the idea of Hermione being sorted into Ravenclaw and being absolutely miserable because it's a constant pun party and it drives her mad.
posted by muddgirl at 12:13 PM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


but there would also be a a lot of divorces just like we saw in the US in the 60s.

Hermoine should/would absolutely divorce Ron. Because she's too fucking good for him. And Harry seems like someone who would struggle with severe depression and PTSD and this would likely impact his marriage with Ginny. What I'm saying is that I kind of want a Jonathan Franzen style Harry Potter book, that explores all of the "adult problems" these people would face years later, just for shits and giggles.
posted by Fizz at 12:20 PM on September 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Harry Potter and the Unresolved Trauma
Harry Potter and the Therapists Couch
Harry Potter and the Midlife Crisis
Harry Potter and the Little Blue Pills
posted by nubs at 12:53 PM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, don't get me started on how obviously bad the Ron/Hermione matchup is. Maybe if Ron went away for a few years and learned to stop being a resentful, uncommunicative shit - but I doubt it. Talk about expecting emotional labor...
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:55 PM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Harry Potter and that time Draco's son said a racial slur.
posted by Fizz at 12:55 PM on September 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


What I'm saying is that I kind of want a Jonathan Franzen style Harry Potter book, that explores all of the "adult problems" these people would face years later, just for shits and giggles.

Yeah, so what you want is Lev Grossman's The Magicians series.

Also, it seems fairly clear to me that the wizarding war is meant to parallel the English WW 2 experience complete with the stiff-upper-lip return to normalcy at the end. The books are not about change, they're about a society that resists change and that overcomes evil by... continuing to resist change. The return to the houses and having kids repeat their parents experience, minus the homicidal manic, is the complete objective. The wizarding world values societal stasis above all else, just like the strata of society the Rowling lives in in England.
posted by GuyZero at 12:57 PM on September 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


the series would have been so much better if Harry had been sorted into Slytherin, Hermione into Ravenclaw and Ron into Hufflepuff and they had to overcome the house structure / prejudices to work together

A telepathic, prescient magic hat is more believable than getting three English people to overcome class differences.
posted by GuyZero at 12:59 PM on September 28, 2018 [22 favorites]


Yeah, so what you want is Lev Grossman's The Magicians series.

You'd think that but I bounced hard off of that series and mostly because I found the main character Quentin to be an absolute asshole. I loved that universe but I hated the characters.

What I want is the third book in Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles to be finished. That is my jam.
posted by Fizz at 1:03 PM on September 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also much love to Ravenclaw but they are probably not very Muggle-friendly. Like not in an openly racist Slytherin way but in a regular upper-middle-class way. They don't come out and say muggles are gross, they just play games of Botticelli around the hearth and gosh, who *doesn't* know the name of the runner-up candidate for head of the magical ministry in 1986? I did a quick wiki crawl and the only explicitly Muggle Ravenclaw I could find was Moaning Myrtle, and that worked out great for her.
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on September 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I loved that universe but I hated the characters.

they're edgy

alto there's a certain amount of a redemption arc in that they learn to be slightly less shit as the series goes on.
posted by GuyZero at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, it seems fairly clear to me that the wizarding war is meant to parallel the English WW 2 experience complete with the stiff-upper-lip return to normalcy at the end.

This just makes me think of Sir Patrick Stewart talking about his WW2 veteran father's domestic violence. A whole generation suffering from untreated PTSD, what could go wrong?
posted by threetwentytwo at 2:37 PM on September 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


You guys. A "Nagin" (pronounced NAA-gin, hard g like in gun) in Indian popular mythology is a woman who can turn into a snake, or rather a snake who can turn into a woman. Usually she is sexy. Usually she is trying to avenge the death of someone she has loved by pretending to love the murderer and then poisoning him at an opportune moment. Her only weakness is that she can be controlled by a snake charmer's music.

Seriously. There are multiple, extremely successful Bollywood movies and soap operas based on this type of "magical creature." Considering that indian mythological tales were spread to and adopted by many south east asian cultures, it doesn't seem far fetched to have a woman who looks east asian be a Nagin.

I had no idea that JKR did not know what she was writing about! I ALWAYS assumed she was referencing the Indian Nagin when she wrote Nagini (whose name should be pronounced NA-gini, not na-GI-ni). Instead it seems like she just borrowed the root word "Nag" for snake from Sanskrit and feminized it into Nagini.

Whatever.

But believe it or not, JKR has managed to be the opposite of offensive here by staying true to the mythological creature she accidentally referenced. Stupendously serendipitous. NOT OFFENSIVE. This is what the story of a Nagin IS.
posted by MiraK at 10:48 PM on September 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


You guys. A "Nagin" (pronounced NAA-gin, hard g like in gun) in Indian popular mythology is a woman who can turn into a snake, or rather a snake who can turn into a woman.

I have to admit that when I heard there was controversy over this casting I automatically assumed it was because they had not selected a South Asian actor for the role.
posted by tavegyl at 12:14 AM on September 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also, it seems fairly clear to me that the wizarding war is meant to parallel the English WW 2 experience complete with the stiff-upper-lip return to normalcy at the end.

The thing was that after WW2 in the UK the country changed a lot... to the shock and surprise of the ruling classes the population as a whole said 'thanks Churchill, but we ain't going back to how things were' and elected in the most radical left-wing government the country had ever seen that brought us a full welfare state including the NHS, nationalisation, mass council house building etc etc and created a new consensus that lasted for thirty odd years until the rise of Thatchermort (but that's another story)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:39 AM on September 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Rowling is very small c conservative (she possibly stops being a large C Conservative / Tory due to her experiences from being a poor single mother).. but she was anti-Scottish Independence, anti-Corbyn, anti-Brexit (because not everyone is wrong all the time) and a TERF. I think this lack of radicalism shows in her writing - it's all 'lets keep things as they are'... or as someone once said 'don't expect many multi-millionaires to want big changes in society'

Also I remember a documentary about her years ago showing that she is obsessed with expanding her world - she knows what happens to all the HP characters, including the minor ones, post the books and could draw huge family trees from memory showing who they married and what all their kids were called. I've no doubt that she's had the idea for the re snake-thing for a long time. But every creative needs to realise that not all ideas are good (or have someone to tell them that).
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:49 AM on September 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


I admit, I loled at this headline from Clickhole.
posted by smoke at 12:41 AM on October 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Everything after the TE in terf is horseshit so it doesn’t really matter.

Is she particularly TERFy though? I hadn’t heard. She does definitely fit into the at-risk group group for the UK Terfocracy except the cord of the group tends to be upper-middle class Guardian columnists.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on October 1, 2018




Is she particularly TERFy though?

She's not GLinner levels... but the evidence is there for not being exactly being pro trans. She faved a couple of anti-trans tweets (when called on it she said it was an accident and blamed tiredness and old age) and there's a bit in one of detective books that sounds well dodgy
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:20 PM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah think I’m just going to full on start pretending a meteorite fell on her the second after she completed Deathly Hallows.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on October 1, 2018


@andrew_durso
HARRY POTTER FANS: all wizards are poly. hogwarts is the dsa.

JK ROWLING: hey y’all just releasing the patch notes for version 1.7 dumbledore hates unions now and i’ve updated the goblins to look more racist

posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hermoine should/would absolutely divorce Ron.

This is part of Holly Wood's Modern Day Harry Potter (Part 2 + continuing occasional tweets)

posted by jdherg at 6:36 PM on October 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


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