First, I lost all respect for one my favorite actors. Now, I have lost an idol.
As I write this, there is a knot of anxiety and sadness in my stomach. Up until this point, I had continuously made the subconscious decision to ignore news concerning Johnny Depp’s involvement in the Harry Potter franchise, a mistake on my part that I fully admit. However, after the release of J.K. Rowling’s official statement on the issue, this problem and its implications cannot be ignored.
Today, Rowling released a statement on her website saying that, she and the other people involved with casting are “genuinely happy” to have Johnny Depp as a member of the cast for the upcoming film, “The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Depp, as most people know, has been accused of domestic violence towards his ex-wife Amber Heard.
Though I was disappointed when I first heard of the allegations towards Depp, there was unfortunately nothing very unusual about news that a man had done something to harm a woman. I felt torn, my love for Johnny Depp as an actor forced to recognize the allegations and the fact that he was a regular man who had committed an act of violence towards his wife, but I got over it quickly. Disappointment in the men of Hollywood is not particularly shocking, at this point, which is a horrible but truthful thought.
I had not seriously considered the idea of Depp’s involvement in the upcoming film until today. I firmly believed that J.K. Rowling, a woman whom I have idolized since elementary school, would do the right thing. After all, was that not the message that her books have told?
When I first saw headlines concerning Rowling’s statement on the casting decision, I breathed a sigh of relief. At long last, this controversy would come to an end by word of a woman who has preached strength and independence to her fans. Upon clicking the link, I was instead met with a blow to the stomach, the pain of which I am still feeling.
Rowling’s statement not only chooses the wrong side of this issue, it is dismissive of the domestic abuse allegations, implying that they are a private matter to be discussed between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. Everyone knows, celebrities are not afforded the same amount of privacy as a regular person. The allegations towards Depp are news, because they involve conflict, celebrity, and, to fans of Harry Potter and Depp himself, a considerable amount of impact. Besides the fact that this is an issue of public interest, violence towards women is to be taken seriously.
How could a woman who has built her empire on doing the right thing and empowering young girls support a man who has been accused of volatile behavior?
In her statement, Rowling acknowledges that fans will likely be “confused and angry” as to why Depp was not removed from the movie. While true, those two words do nothing to convey the vast disappointment I feel towards a woman that I used to believe in, totally and completely.
I am physically sickened by this statement of support Rowling has released. I feel as though I have been betrayed by a mentor, as a young woman and as a writer, and I know that I not alone in these feelings. Though I don’t think there is any way to truly repair the damage that has been done to the relationship between J.K. and her fans, I beg of her to revoke her support. It is not a matter of privacy or guilt. It is a matter of standing up for what one believes in, and Rowling’s stance on this issue goes against everything else I have ever understood about her values.
*Please note: I have nothing to do with the Harry Potter franchise other than being a longtime fan. All words here are my opinion.*