Saturday 16 December 2017

Johnny Depp - Toxic To Harry Potter?

Before I go any further, I just want to say that this post, for some people, might have triggers so if you feel uncomfortable about reading this post, please don't read. I want you to stay safe physically, mentally and emotionally. 

That's why am going to insert a page-break here so, if you do want to read about Johnny Depp, his involvement in Fantastic Beasts, the allegations and me trying to figure out how I feel about this, carry on reading. If not, please don't read. 

I have been very uncertain on myself over if I wanted to write this and how I wanted to write this. I think most of us within the Harry Potter fandom know and have very strong opinions on Johnny Depp's involvement with Fantastic Beasts and the upcoming movies within this series. But, while I still feel uncomfortable writing this, I think we need have an open discussion about this and to be respectful to one another's opinions.

So, for the record, this is me trying to understand and figure out where I stand.

For those who aren't aware, two year ago, Amber Heard (Johnny Depp's wife at the time) came forward and accused Johnny had abused her physically and emotionally, with her filing for restraining order against him. People came forward (including several of his exes) and publicly defended him, while his former management company and other people came forward and made claims, supporting Heard. Depp released a statement calling the allegations "alacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies", even though photos and video came to light. The couple divorced and the two reached a joint settlement (though the documents in this trial have been sealed).

At the time this was happening, he had filmed his Fantastic Beasts cameo and, when a leak that happened a week prior to the movie's release saying he was in the movie, playing Grindelwald, Harry Potter fans reacted. Fans questioned whether Warner Bros were behind the "leak" to see fans' reactions while other asked/demanded for his character to be recasted.

From then until very recently, Warner Bros has only released a statement saying they were happy with Johnny Depp's casting. But fans hoped that, as Grindelwald was only in the first Fantastic Beasts movie for a very short period of time (five minutes?), that he might be recasted. But when Pottermore revealed the title of the second Fantastic Beasts movie (The Crimes of Grindelwald) and revealed cast photos and he was playing title character, fans reacted in a negative way, calling on other fans to boycott the movie.

This time, several statements were made, instead of one general. David Yates, director, and David Heyman, producer, made a statement with Entertainment Weekly, only for some fans to question some of the things David Yates said within the statement which were read as victim-blaming and very 'because this happened to one person and because he's so nice on set and people have come forward to say nice things, that means he can't possibly be an abuser' (sorry for paraphrasing - click here and here for better articles which show his statement). JK Rowling made a statement on her own website, talking about Johnny's casting and how they did consider recasting his role. But some fans questioned JK Rowling's statement, saying it added nothing to calm fans worries and that the statement gave hints that she and people high up in the franchise knew information that fans didn't, which again, caused some fans some concerns. For someone who is as outspoken on social issues such as JK Rowling, her keeping quiet on this issue with information that could help calm the fandom she and her stories have worked so hard to gain is troubling.

Plus, fans have questions over Johnny Depp's causing with Warner Bros's actions in the past. In 2009, the actor who played Crabbe in the movies (Jamie Waylett) was arrested for growing cannabis and charged for possession. Because of this, his character was written out completely from the last two Harry Potter movies. Also, Warner Bros distanced themselves to Jamie Waylett in 2011 when he was arrested during the London 2011 Riots, where he was armed with a petrol bomb.

Plus, when allegations of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein came to light, David Heyman (producer) actively worked to get his upcoming movie, Paddington 2, out of the deal with Weinstein Company, who had distribution rights in North America at the time. When the movie was released, Warner Bros had bought the rights.

And, for around a year prior to her making her statement, JK Rowling made no statement whatsoever. She remained silent, which fans found troubling as she is very outspoken on issues close to her heart. When some fans on Twitter question JK Rowling over Depp's casting (some raising concerns, others acting very troll-like), they discovered that JK Rowling had blocked them.

I question what Warner Bros would have done if this came out now. I believe they would have removed Johnny Depp from the series. I mean, look at what's happened to Harvey Weinstein and  Kevin Spacey at the moment. Their private lives and careers are ruined. But look at Chris Brown who, in 2009, was arrested for domestic assault over his partner at the time, Rihanna. At the time, his music was pulled from radio stations and public appearances were cancelled. And yet now, his career is thriving, even though another former girlfriend of his, Karrueche Tran, was granted a five year restraining order against Brown. Is this double standard, different situations or genuine remorse at play here?

So, where do fans go from here? Should they still watch the movies? Should they boycott? Wait till after opening weekend to see it? Watch the movie and donate the same amount of money to a local/national domestic abuse charity?

I've been writing this so I can figure out what I will be doing. And sadly, I still have no idea. I believe that this is a personal decision and we, as a fandom, must respect and support each person's decision and try not to make that person feel like a bad fan or a traitor because of their decision. We have to stand in our own truth and go "This is where I stand". Whether that be a fan going to see the movie or  another refusing to watch it, we should be kind and support each other. Like JK Rowling said in her statement, "we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing."

Although, I do hope that the makers of this series are taking on board what fans concerns as the Harry Potter (and, because of this, the Fantastic Beasts series) are people's safe space and with Johnny Depp's involvement, some fans don't feel that this safe place exist for them anymore.

1 comment:

  1. I hadn't thought of what the reaction would be if the assaults came to light now.

    All this has shown me how hard it is not to judge on incomplete information. I'm just glad it's not me making the decisions. And I was disappointed with the casting but that's because Johnny Depp made stupid career decisions with all the Pirates movies. He used to have standards.