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Top 5 Most Controversial Harry Potter Decisions

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
The Wizarding World is not without its divisive issues. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 5 Controversial HarryPotter Decisions. For this list, we’ll be looking at revelations and creative choices from the Harry Potter books, films and extended content as published through Pottermore. For the record, we won’t be covering controversial decisions made by characters in the novels or movies, but rather real world choices made by J.K. Rowling.
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Top 5 Controversial Harry Potter Decisions

The Wizarding World is not without its divisive issues. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 5 Controversial Harry Potter Decisions.
For this list, we’ll be looking at revelations and creative choices from the Harry Potter books, films and extended content as published through Pottermore. For the record, we won’t be covering controversial decisions made by characters in the novels or movies, but rather real world choices made by J.K. Rowling.

#5: Incorporating Native American Culture Into the Wizarding World

In 2016, J.K. Rowling came under fire when, in the lead up to “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”, she published a series of essays entitled “History of Magic in North America”. J.K. Rowling began by acknowledging Native American magical communities; it was sound in concept, but went sadly askew in practice. Very real native culture and traditions, including “skin walkers,” something specific to Navajo legend, and “medicine men,” were reinterpreted with a broad brush in order to fit into the existing - and fictional - wizarding world. Rowling was widely accused of being reductive and offensive, contributing to a history of marginalization and colonization.

#4: Dumbledore’s Sexual Orientation

Shortly after the book series ended, J.K. Rowling told a New York City audience at Carnegie Hall that she’d always thought of Albus Dumbledore as gay. At that particular venue, she was met with applause. For many, having an iconic literary figure and mentor identified as gay was a huge step forward in terms of representation and diversity. Elsewhere however, the reception was colder, particularly amongst Christian groups. Even some fans were disappointed that Rowling hadn’t made his sexuality overt in-text. With the expanded universe, controversy continued when director David Yates said Dumbledore’s sexuality wouldn’t be “explicitly explored” in the second “Fantastic Beasts” instalment. However, given that there are several other films to come, perhaps the creators will take a cue from fan response.

#3: Making “The Cursed Child” Canon

The “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play was met with critical acclaim when it premiered in 2016. But fans have major misgivings about the place it’s been given in the franchise. The published script was billed as the eighth Harry Potter book, but it wasn’t written by J.K Rowling; it was simply based on a story co-written by her… and it shows. Many fans described the writing as reminiscent of fan fiction, with the depictions of characters being way off. Various rules of Rowling’s universe are ignored. The trolley witch has spike hands and exploding Pumpkin Pasties. Plotwise, this isn’t the continuation any fan had been dreaming of. As such, many HP devotees simply deny its status as canon.

#2: Double Trouble with Nagini

When a trailer for “The Crimes of Grindelwald” was released in September 2018, fans were shocked to learn that Nagini, a snake and Horcrux from the original series, was once a woman. Intentionally or not, that adds a lot of retroactive baggage to the character. Rowling clarified that Nagini is actually a “Maledictus,” a new concept. Unfortunately, critics questioned this choice for a few race-related reasons: firstly, the way they see it, one of the film’s few women of color plays a character that literally becomes a white man’s pet. What’s more, some see the casting South-Korean actress Claudia Kim as a character rooted in Indian mythology as another problem.

#1: Casting Johnny Depp

J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world might not always be a safe place for its characters, but for millions upon millions of readers, it’s a comforting one in which to escape from the trauma and troubles of the real world. That’s why, for some loyal Potterheads, the casting of Johnny Depp - even in a villainous role - was seen as an unfortunate choice. Depp had been accused of emotionally and physically abusing his ex-wife Amber Heard, and while he adamantly denied the claims, some critics of the casting choice saw his inclusion in the cast as controversial. For her part, J. K. Rowling has defended the casting choice, while also acknowledging fan concerns.


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