Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ended with a chapter ‘19 years later’ after the Battle of Hogwarts, introducing the next generation of children who would attend the great school of wizardry and witchcraft.
Harry Potter fans were very excited after JK Rowling announced plans to release another book in the magical series nine years after the last novel earlier in February this year based on a play staged in London.
But a major controversy arose when the cast for the play was revealed.
Jamie Parker, Noma Dumezweni, and Paul Thornley were cast respectively as adult Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley for the show. However, one look at the trio brought to light an aspect of this casting was not according to expectations. The actress who will play Hermione was black.
Last week, we got our first look at Numa Dumezweni’s Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the image of a black woman playing Hermione came as a surprise. It was a far cry from the girl with the ‘bushy brown hair’ and the ‘rather large front teeth’ they’d grown up with. Many of them were left angry, and started immature comments in retaliation.
JK Rowling, unsurprisingly, had a rather harsh opinion of a controversy that just refused to settle down.
Here’s what Rowling said -
“With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to be idiot,” she said in an interview with the Observer. “But what can you say? That’s the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.”
While the vast majority of people responded positively to the casting decision, Rowling said: “I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white’ – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with. But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm.”
Rowling said she had a "great deal of difficulty" dealing with those that insisted Hermione played by Emma Watson in the film franchise "must be a white woman."
Twitterati were of the opinion:
Of course Hermione could be a black woman. But that’s beside the point. Had writer Jack Thorne been feeling more adventurous, Hermione could have very easily been a man in this new version, the homosexual partner to a gay Ron. Would it be homophobic or sexist to voice disapproval of such a drastic change?
You see, JK Rowling, and many others, are missing the point. The problem isn’t the colour of Hermione’s skin. If skin colour was a problem and if people were racist then they’d never have accepted Kingsley Shacklebolt as the de-facto leader of the aurors. The problem, simply, is that changing Hermione’s skin colour seems like a deliberately desperate knee-jerk attempt to please millenials and uber-liberal hipsters of the post-social media age. The fear of seeming behind these volatile times prompted them to take this ill-advised decision.
The writers’ heart is in the right place. The Harry Potter universe is uncomfortably white. It always has been. But since racial diversity wasn’t such a touchy subject 20 years ago, Rowling managed to get away with only 4, maybe 5 side characters of colour (Lee Jordan, Dean Thomas, Angelina Johnson, Blaise Zabini and the aforementioned Kingsley). For a universe as magical, as rich as the Harry Potter-verse, all the main characters were white. But it’s 2016: Stuff like this just doesn’t fly anymore.
Source: the guardian
And it’s not only about Hermione. It’s safe to assume that fans would’ve had a similarly outraged reaction had other beloved characters been put through odd physical transformations. Are they expected to accept, with an indifferent shrug, a scar-less Harry? Are they supposed to not question a dark haired Ron?
Once again, the colour of the skin is not the problem. The problem is that a rather drastic change has been made to a character for no real reason.
Of the two warring parties which side are you on?
Title image source: digitalspy