Not so long ago, my family and I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, in Southern California. In a word, it was amazing. Despite my being too broad-shouldered (and totally crushed) that I couldn’t fit into the seat for “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” (my wife and daughter said it was the single best ride of their lives), the trip was worth the drive to get there. So was waiting in the horrendous lines. What rendered moot any complaints of inconvenience was the near-constant look of awe and wonder on my daughter’s face.
The script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth and probably final story about Harry Potter, was finally released yesterday. Written exclusively for the stage by Jack Thorne, JK Rowling, and John Tiffany, the London play is nearly all sold out through December 2017, and Potterheads everywhere celebrated the midnight release with costume parties. Fanfare aside, the big question is, is it worth the read? Here’s ten things to consider (without plot spoilers!):
Remember back in June when it was announced that the new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts had an American Wizarding school? Remember how I was concerned? If you don’t, here’s a link to that post.
Hermione Granger means so much to so many girls, myself included. She’s smart and brave — the smartest witch of her age — and saved the world. She’s someone who prefers books to people (except a select few) and can be brass and bold at times when girls are usually told not to be. She’s a role model and a mirror. And because her race is never specified in the Harry Potter series, many girls around the world can picture someone who looks like them as her character. She was of course, cast as white in the Hollywood adaptations of the books — because Hollywood gonna Hollywood — but that doesn’t mean that she has to be white in all adaptations of the series. Buzzfeed already showed us the mounds of Hermione-as-black fanart that exists in the world. And now that dream that so many of us had is coming true.
[Ed. note: Since EW.com just revealed an exclusive first look at next year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we’re reposting this piece that originally appeared on The Mary Sue in September.]
All Potterheads were excited when it was announced that a new movie was coming out (even if we were sad it wasn’t a Marauders prequel). And some fans were excited because with a new cast, it meant an opportunity for people of color to become main characters in a series whose fans span the globe.
J.K. Rowling herself spurred many of the theories that Fantastic Beasts could feature a more diverse cast than the Harry Potter franchise. (The film series as a whole only features 0.47% of lines spoken by people of color, according to the Every Single Word video series.) Over on Pottermore, she described Newt Scamander’s (author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) grandson Rolf as “swarthy,” a word which means “dark-skinned.” Many fans figured this could mean that Newt himself could be black.
Dear J.K. Rowling,
I am unabashedly a huge Harry Potter fan. I first encountered Harry when I was in Junior High, volunteering at the public library (nerd status, I know). The children’s librarian handed me book one, and I was hooked. I even used to frequent Harry Potter message boards back in the day with my friend Kathleen (we were “Parvati” and “Lavender” cause we also shared an interest in divination, ha). Anyway, all this is to say, Harry holds a sacred spot in my heart. But I’m not one of those fans who can recite things verbatim, or remember every tiny detail, so if I’m missing something, I hope one of those fans will help me out.
I’ve been interestedly following the news that there is a new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts in the works, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, following “magizoologist” Newt Scamander. I hadn’t been following it closely, but a few days ago, I saw your exchanges on Twitter about the name/location of the American Wizarding School — and I started to get a bit concerned.
The flip side of the discussion of opening up the speculative fiction genres to more writers of color telling stories about characters of color is the phenomenon of white writers employing characters of color. Such works are not automatically or inherently problematic when done sensitively and skillfully; indeed, the diversification of the worlds of white creators to reflect the real diversity of our own is necessary. Speculative fiction abounds with examples both bad, like the racial allegories of Tolkien‘s Middle Earth, and good, like Le Guin’s Earthsea series, Stephenson’s Snow Crash, or Gaiman’s Anansi Boys.