You might know by now that Nagini will appear in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald. But she won’t just be appearing as a snake – she’ll also be human.
Author J.K. Rowling explained that Nagini is a Maledictus – a female human with a blood curse that will eventually turn her into a beast. In Nagini’s case, she became a snake.
In human form, Nagini will be played by South Korean actress Claudia Kim, whom you might remember as Helen Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But J.K. Rowling’s “Asian representation” has irked many because people see it as a last-minute attempt at diversity. And many are wondering why she had to cast an Asian actress to play the role of a woman who is a white man’s loyal servant. And one who met her end by being beheaded by Neville Longbottom at that.
When asked on Twitter, she responded, “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.”
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
Cool story, but if you go to Wikipedia, you’d realise that Naga has Hindu origins, which people are quick to point out.
In Indonesia, nagas are snake-like creatures but not depicted as human, save in 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple Borobudur.
And even if her explanation makes sense, we don’t know which ethnic category Claudia falls under: Javanese, Chinese or Betawi. Maybe J.K. Rowling can tell us because we sure are confused.
This wasn’t the only controversy the Fantastic Beasts franchise has attracted. Earlier this year, many voiced their displeasure over Johnny Depp reprising his role as Gillert Grindelwald after his former wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic violence. In an interview, the author said retaining him was “the right thing”, although she admitted she had reconsidered recasting another actor for the role.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald opens in cinemas on November 15, 2018 in Singapore. Watch the trailer below.