The new trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has left many viewers confused and upset over the casting of Korean actress Claudia Kim for the role of Nagini, reports HuffPost.
The Harry Potter spinoff series gave fans their first look at the human version of the character Nagini, who is cursed to transform into a snake-like creature and who later becomes Voldemort’s servant. Some Asian Americans aren’t thrilled with the casting due to the problematic history of Asian women often being portrayed in Hollywood as two-dimensional, sexualized, subservient beings or exotic dragon ladies.
Many took to Twitter to express their fears of Nagini falling into a racist trope, including author Ellen Oh.
I feel like this is the problem when white people want to diversify and don’t actually ask POC how to do so. They don’t make the connection between making Nagini an Asian woman who later on is the pet of a white man. So I’m going to say it right now. That shit is racist.
— Ellen “Call Me General” Oh (@ElloEllenOh) September 25, 2018
So what’s the greater issue with Nagini? It’s that (1) Asians are peripheral in a white-centric world, (2) Asian women exist to mainly serve white men’s interests, and (3) Asian men don’t exist at all. All three could be seen in HP books as well, so there’s more suspicion. /4
— Oxford Kondō (@oxford_kondo) September 26, 2018
i don’t care if nagini herself is evil or not, just that they’re doing this rare asian character within shitty asian-character tropes: exotic circus freak, racist guy’s pet, ultimately serves a plot run by white characters who are actually complex
— ryen ? (@RyeriLim) September 26, 2018
J.K. Rowling responded to the backlash on Twitter, defending the casting. However, she mentions nowhere in the Tweet that Kim is Korean.
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 ?
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 26, 2018
Author Amish Tripathi responded, challenging Rowling’s explanation.
Actually @jk_rowling the Naga mythology emerged from India. It travelled to Indonesia with the Indic/Hindu empires that emerged there in the early Common Era, with the influence of Indian traders and Rishis/Rishikas who travelled there. Nagin is a Sanskrit language word. https://t.co/cXHSlDD7Kc
— Amish Tripathi (@authoramish) September 26, 2018
There has already been controversy surrounding Fantastic Beasts in casting Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, after he was accused of domestic abuse, which he denied, according to BBC.
Kim hasn’t discussed the controversy on her Twitter page.
“It will be so interesting to see another side of Nagini,” Kim told EW. “You’ve only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.”
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