Twitter Responses To The 'Cursed Child' Casting Brilliantly Shut Down The Haters
Producers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child announced Monday that a black actor would play Hermione, and some Twitter users reacted in a pretty offensive way. But Harry Potter fans did not let that fly for very long. Twitter responded to Hermione haters in a brilliant, inspirational way.
To be clear, the announcement of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child doesn’t mean there will be another Harry Potter movie, as many seem to believe. Rather, an onstage reimagining of the Harry Potter world will debut as a play at the Palace Theatre in London in July 2016, according to The Guardian. The play will take place 19 years after the events in the final Harry Potter book ended. According to the play’s website, the plot will portray Potter as an “overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and a father of three school-age children,” according to the Guardian. Sounds amazing… or, possibly, a tad depressing.
The adult version of Hermione Granger — the beloved, precocious girl-nerd who accompanied Potter on his teen adventures — will be played by Noma Dumezweni, an actor of South African heritage, according to The Los Angeles Times. The casting of a black actor to portray a character that many assumed was white is fully supported by JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, who clarified on Twitter that, in fact, Granger’s race was never specified within the Harry Potter texts, according to TIME.
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
Rowling was responding to those on Twitter who seemed downright scandalized by Hermione's race fluidity, including this person, who insists that the character is white, despite Rowling herself stating otherwise.
Other Hermione fans who don't support the casting tried to put forth a more nuanced argument, claiming that altering a character's race tampers with the "continuity" of the fictional universe:
The issue with Hermione's race lies in the discontinuity. If Hermione was black in the films (+book covers) no one would be saying anything.— Pottermore News (@PottermoreNews7) December 20, 2015
Then there were the more combative haters who claim that white girls everywhere have lost a hero:
Hermione is white. I will not stand by whilst the PC police and cultural Marxists try to erase white female heroes.— The Web's Sam Grady (@TheSamGrady) December 21, 2015
In response, hate-free Tweeters came to the defense of a black Hermione, pointing out that, for one, reducing Hermione's identity to the color of her skin is terribly reductive:
Black Hermione, or as I'll be calling her from now on, Hermione.— Chloe Angyal (@ChloeAngyal) December 21, 2015
And then there was this awesome Tweeter, who pointed out the absurdity of obsessing over Hermione's race within the context of a fictional, magical world:
I love how Hermione being black is somehow more implausible to some people than a universe where the entire postal system depends on owls— Snukes (@QueerDiscOx) December 20, 2015
And this person, who really gets to the pith of arguing against a black Hermione:
If you're uncomfortable with a black actress playing Hermione, but you can't put your finger on why, let me explain: it's coz you're racist.— Benjamin Cook (@benjamin_cook) December 21, 2015
This person made the rather highbrow point that even if Hermione WAS white in the books, there's no place for literalism in art:
Also: casting isn't illustration. Whether if Hermione were white in the books or not, actors can play anything. Literalism is anti-art.— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) December 21, 2015
For many readers, of course, Hermione was black all along.
for a lot of readers, Hermione has been black for years. but seeing her MATTERS. everyone who thinks otherwise? Silencio.— emery lord (@emerylord) December 20, 2015
As a black girl who identified with Hermione soooo much growing up, thank you @jk_rowling. Twelve year old me is crying happy tears.— Angela Thomas (@acthomaswrites) December 20, 2015
Indeed, the hashtag #HermioneIsBlack was already a thing on Tumblr. This fan art portrays a not-white Hermione kicking ass:
Some of my favourite Hermione fanarts next to our new Hermione! pic.twitter.com/80bIkcLBMJ— alice in wonderland (@alwaysdragxns) December 20, 2015
In the end, though, the controversy over Hermione's race does lead to some interesting questions about the role of race and ethnicity in the Harry Potter books. True, Rowling pointed out that Hermione's race wasn't specified, but many of the other characters in her books were assigned a specific race, and in most cases, they were Caucasian. This Tweeter pointed to the lack of diversity in the books:
Listen I love HP but let's not pretend Jo secretly wrote this magical diverse world.— biracial af (@alyssakeiko) December 21, 2015
In a similar vein, a columnist at The Independent applauds Rowling for addressing the Hermione race issue head-on, but notes that the Harry Potter world was, in fact, "set primarily in the realm of straight, white people."
Whatever the case, a black Hermione is reason for celebration, even if adult Hermione turns out to have a super boring job.
My president and my Hermione are both black lol yasss— alexis nedd (@alexisthenedd) December 20, 2015
Image: Karen Roe/Flickr