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The Mary Sue

Johnny Depp Should Not Be in the Harry Potter Franchise

Also, David Yates: STFU

Fantastic Beasts 2

I have loved Harry Potter with a terrifying passion for most of my life. It was my first real fandom and every time I re-read the books, I discover that my opinions about a character have changed. The series, regardless of how it has grown into a giant corporate monster, will always encompass the most earnest part of my childhood. Which is why I don’t think it is too much to ask for a domestic violence abuser to not be apart of the franchise.

When the first Fantastic Beasts came out, I was excited about it. I know that this is a cash grab, but I enjoy the Harry Potter universe in any form; while in many ways fandom has created a much more interesting expanded universe for the HPU, I was excited to see what an American magical society looked like. Until I was told about that Johnny Depp. Which I was honestly glad to know, because if I had paid my hard earned money to see the film and had to watch Colin Farrell melt away into Johnny Depp, I would have screamed.

Johnny Depp has suffered no repercussions for his violence against Amber Heard. Despite the fact that he beat her and shamed her, it didn’t matter, and people left comments attempting to make her seem like some sex-crazed-gold digging-bisexual. Amber Heard has had to deal with a heavy stigma from coming forward with her abuse; meanwhile, Depp has been allowed to star in film after film.

I want to see Fantastic Beasts 2: I mean Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange, a black Slytherin pure-blood character, is something the Harry Potter fan in me has wanted since forever. However, that fangirl thirst in me cannot bring myself to do it. I only watched the first one because my good friend has it DVD and I figured why not, I didn’t pay for it.

But I know I’m in the minority. Despite the outrage on sites like ours,  and others with a female focus—plus social media where fans cluster like Tumblr—the reality is that Depp has two things in his favor: (a) people love Harry Potter and (b) people have continued to work with him.

Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon that has grown past author J.K. Rowling to become an entity unto itself. It is why even when Rowling releases statements on Pottermore, people can take it or leave it. Her input is fine, but the series is done and the fans have already carved out their own meta. People who want to see this Beasts film will see it regardless of the moral and political issues; for them, they are not supporting Depp, they are supporting a series they have loved for years. Most people will not see what a difference it makes since Depp has already been paid for the role. Which is the next problem.

David Yates, director of two of the worst films in the Harry Potter film franchise—and the director of the first Fantastic Beasts—made this comment about the backlash that came from Depp being cast as Grindelwald:

“Honestly, there’s an issue at the moment where there’s a lot of people being accused of things, they’re being accused by multiple victims, and it’s compelling and frightening,” Yates said. “With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”

“By testament, some of the women in [Depp’s] life have said the same thing — ‘that’s not the human being we know,’” Yates said. “It’s very different [than cases] where there are multiple accusers over many years that need to be examined and we need to reflect on our industry that allows that to roll on year in and year out. Johnny isn’t in that category in any shape or form. So to me, it doesn’t bear any more analysis. It’s a dead issue.” (via Death & Taxes)

Um, what the fuck are you talking about? The person who took a “pop at him” was his wife. There are pictures and video evidence of it. Secondly, he was the one initiating those “pops.” So don’t try and act as though because you hired this piece of shit to stain this franchise, that you have to pretend as though you have no idea why people are upset. He kicked his wife. Fuck you.

Yet, it is not just Yates—what about everyone else involved? Rowling gave the casting her blessing, which ugh, Joanne why do you hurt me like this? However, none of the cast or crew had anything to say? When it is brought up in press tours, will everyone else give the same tone-deaf statements? There is a reason the word of the year is complicit.

The thing that makes this all the more unbearable to me is that Harry Potter is a series in which three of the biggest characters featured, Harry, Snape, and Voldemort, are shaped and haunted by the emotional abuse they received in their family lives. Harry was emotionally abused and mistreated by his aunt and uncle. Snape is implied to have witnessed his father harm his mother and a child. Voldemort’s mother grew up in an abusive family environment, which is why she ended up using a love potion (and raping) Tom Riddle Sr., leading to the birth of Voldemort and his inability to feel human emotions.

How are we going to have a new film series that praises Newt Scamander for how he is not a typical “toxic masculinity” driven male protagonist, while at the same having it co-star a man who, I repeat, kicked his wife and threw things in her face.  Even if he is playing wizard-Hitler.

While it is unfair to put the burden on fans and the public to protest this film, and let’s be real that just isn’t going to happen on a wide scale, I cannot in good conscience see a film who cast someone so antithetical to the premise of the series. It would be one thing if  Depp showed even the smallest bit of remorse, but he hasn’t. He has no motivation to change or be held accountable because no one will do so. Hell, the same studio behind this FB2 is also behind Justice League and Aquaman, which Amber Heard will be staring in.

To quote a musical that was turned into another movie that I can no longer enjoy: “There’s a hole in the world/Like a great black pit/And it’s filled with people/Who are filled with shit.”

(via Death and Taxes, image: Warner Bros.)

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