It was recently revealed that actor Johnny Depp is featured among the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Many Harry Potter fans, myself included, were quite upset about this casting decision, given the allegations of abuse surrounding Depp.In May of this year, Depp’s now ex-wife Amber Heard filed for divorce and later sought a restraining order against him due to alleged physical and verbal abuse throughout their 15-month marriage. As evidence, Heard submitted photos of herself to the court with a large bruise on her face, after he allegedly threw a cell phone at her, struck her face, pulled her hair, and hit her several times. After Heard received her divorce settlement from Depp, she donated the entire settlement to charity.Since the story broke, Depp’s career has not suffered all that much. Depp is the star of two popular and profitable Disney franchises, Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland. Disney CEO Bob Iger said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he is “not worried” about Depp’s “personal problems” — as phrased by the interviewer — and, when asked if he thought the scandal would pass, he responded, “I don’t know whether it passes or not. We have Jack Sparrow.” Iger appears to be impying that since the character Depp plays in the franchise is so profitable and popular, the allegations are unlikely to impact Disney.Depp being cast in a Harry Potter spin-off is especially disappointing considering what the series is about. One of the main plot points in the series is that Harry is forced to spend his childhood with his abusive aunt and uncle, the Dursleys; the series examines the emotional damage done to him.Additionally, Harry Potter is thematically centred on fighting those who use their power to inflict cruelty. The main villain, Voldemort, uses his power to discriminate, hunt, and kill those who he sees as not being ‘pure-blooded’ or anyone who opposes him. Another villain, Dolores Umbridge, uses her positions of power to torture students and force them to obey her rules.The fact that Depp, who seems to have used his power as a popular, high-profile celebrity to abuse his wife and keep his career intact, is now part of the Harry Potter world is both heartbreaking and a slap in the face — it goes directly against what the series stands for.To make matters worse, J. K. Rowling, the author of the original series, stated that she was “delighted” with Depp’s casting. It is extremely frustrating and hypocritical that Rowling would seemingly turn her back on the values she put into the books in order to cast a high-profile actor like Depp.The fact is that powerful men in Hollywood constantly seem to get a pass for their abusive behaviour. Woody Allen, for example, allegedly sexually abused his daughter Dylan Farrow when she was only seven years old. These allegations have been public knowledge since 1993, and Farrow herself wrote a powerful and gut-wrenching essay on the topic in 2014. Nevertheless, his career as a director has not suffered, and he has continued to make popular movies.Some might argue that these men should be allowed to keep their careers because the allegations haven’t been proven in a court of law. Yet even when sexual assault and domestic abuse victims feel safe coming forward and there is sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal proceedings, the careers of the abusers still might not be affected. For instance, director Roman Polanski actually pled guilty to statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977; since then, he has made countless films and even won an Oscar in 2003 for directing The Pianist.Ultimately, the film industry is faced with a choice: stop working with those who have committed acts of abuse, assault, and violence or continue to let famous men know that they can get away with anything.While the industry grapples with this decision, filmgoers and fans have a third option: boycott. I will not see any of the Fantastic Beasts films and strongly urge fellow fans to do the same.Adina Heisler is a second-year student at University College studying Women and Gender Studies and English.
Published: 10:28 pm, 4 December 2016
Modified: 12:29 am, 5 December 2016