No Magic In Abuse
Empowering fans to speak out against domestic abuse
TW: descriptions of domestic abuse. If you need help for yourself or others, we recommend the National Domestic Abuse hotline which offers a 24/7 hotline and a chat service in English and Spanish.
The upcoming release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and the continuation of stories in the Harry Potter universe has been darkened by the casting of Johnny Depp as a major character (Grindelwald) despite domestic abuse allegations. #MeToo has woken our culture up to the reality many survivors face every day. The next step is holding fandoms, networks, and media companies responsible for cutting ties with abusers.
While the courts are tasked with determining the legal outcome of abuse allegations, our fandom should demand more from the next generation of Harry Potter canon. At Uplift, we believe in supporting survivors and we cannot support survivors while supporting holding an abuser on a pedestal.
In 2016, accompanying their divorce filings, Amber Heard filed for a restraining order against Depp and shared her story of physical abuse at the hand of Depp. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the first installment of the 5-movie franchise, was released in November 2016. Though the accusations came out after the filming of the movie had occurred, Depp was only featured in the movie for a few seconds. Many casual fans didn’t even realize he was in the movie and it would have been easy to recast him before the sequel two years later.
Unfortunately, Harry Potter leaders like David Yates (director of HP films 5–8 and Fantastic Beasts) and J.K. Rowling have let us down.
In an interview with EW in November of 2017, David Yates stated:
“Honestly, there’s an issue at the moment where there’s a lot of people being accused of things, they’re being accused by multiple victims, and it’s compelling and frightening. With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.”
Yates went on to say:
“It’s very different [than cases] where there are multiple accusers over many years that need to be examined and we need to reflect on our industry that allows that to roll on year in and year out. Johnny isn’t in that category in any shape or form. So to me, it doesn’t bear any more analysis. It’s a dead issue.”
This rhetoric is very damaging to survivors and contributes to rape culture in our society. Yates is using his position of authority to claim that only accusations where multiple survivors have come forward should be believed. He continues by putting Depp above Heard and demeaning her experience in the process.
The reality is that most abusers are successful because they know when to put on a front and when to be abusive. Harvey Weinstein, for example, went unreported for years because of his connections in high places and tendency to behave appropriately in more public settings. Supporting survivors means taking all accusations seriously.
Though J.K. Rowling was initially silent on the matter, except to announce she was “delighted” with Depp’s casting, when pressed to respond she stated:
“Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.” — JK Rowling, December 2017
Rowling ended the piece with:
“I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn’t governable by committee. Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing.”
Hearing the author who inspired a generation to speak truth to power and stand up for what is right, defend the continued casting of a domestic abuser was disheartening. Domestic abuse is a widespread issue and when people publicly express doubt or mock these experiences, survivors are listening. According to a 2015 CDC study, nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. On average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million people.
The Harry Potter community has always been defined by more what Scholastic and Warner Bros. have given us. Our fandom is about wizard rock, fanfiction, fanart, cosplay, creative theories, late night debates, and fan activism. We have the right to demand that our fandom hold itself to a higher standard. The fandom belongs to us, not J.K. Rowling or David Yates.
No Magic in Abuse is our campaign dedicated to empowering all of us to speak out against abuse as a fandom. Throughout the months leading up to the release of the film, we will be sharing resources for talking about this issue online and IRL. We’ll provide resources for supporting survivors of relationship abuse and encourage everyone to use our voiced to speak out against the franchise’s support of Depp.
We can’t do it without your help!
- Sign up to stay involved with No Magic In Abuse. We’ll send guides about supporting survivors of relationship abuse and conversation starters with your friends.
- Take a Stand Around the Film. Boycotting the film or putting off seeing it until after opening weekend is one way to send a message. We will also have resources you can share with people in line at the movie to start a conversation at the theater.
- Spread the word and use the hashtag #NoMagicInAbuse on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and wherever you communicate online. Visit our campaign homepage for suggested content and graphics. Personal messages about why this issue is important to you will resonate the loudest.
- Attend our LeakyCon panel “No Magic In Abuse: A Fantastic Beasts Discussion” Friday, August 10 and stop by our booth to write a Howler message to Warner Bros. We’ll also have ways for people to participate remotely.