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Courtesy of Warner Bros.

J.K. Rowling uses mythology to defend Claudia Kim's Fantastic Beasts casting

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Sep 27, 2018

The final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has certainly made an impact. One of the biggest revelations that the trailer let loose was that nature of the role played by actress Claudia Kim — she's playing Nagini, a woman who can turn into a snake. If you know your Harry Potter lore, you know that Nagini will eventually turn into a snake permanently, and become the companion (and partial soul-bearer) of Lord Voldemort. 

Kim recently shared that it will be "interesting to see another side of Nagini," going on to say, "You’ve only seen her as a Horcrux. In this, she’s a wonderful and vulnerable woman who wants to live. She wants to stay a human being and I think that’s a wonderful contrast to the character.” Kim shared in another interview that Nagini is a Maledictus, which is "a carrier of a blood curse that destines her ultimately to transform into a beast."

Though Potter mastermind J.K. Rowling (also the screenwriter of this film) was excited for fans to hear the name and put things together, the reaction to it has not been very positive. Many users of social media are less than pleased that a Korean actress (in a series that is fairly short on non-white characters) is destined to become an evil snake. 

One user tweeted that "suddenly making Nagini into a Korean woman is garbage. Representation as an afterthought for more woke points is not good representation." 

Rowling responded to this tweet, using a mytholgical defense. She tweeting the following: "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." She closes it with a snake emoticon. 

Though the original tweeter accused Rowling of "suddenly" making this choice for Nagini, Rowling has said that there is nothing sudden about it. When asked this past tuesday about how long she's been holding the Nagini secret in, Rowling tweeted, "only for around twenty years." 

This is not the first time the choices made in this particular film have come under scrutiny— the "queer-baiting" nature of the Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship has come under fire, as has the continuing presence of actor Johnny Depp. Rowling (and the entire team) defended their positions in both of those cases. 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits cinemas on November 16th, 2018. 

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