Friday, 5 February 2016

The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox: Does Hermione Granger have an Emma problem?

The Heavy Anglo-Orthodox: Does Hermione Granger have an Emma problem?

"Last year, in the Cameron Crowe movie Aloha, Emma Stone (a white actress) was cast in the role of a character named Allison Ng, who was supposed to be part-Chinese and part-Hawai’ian. This casting caused an immediate, outraged backlash amongst Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders, and hapa haoles in particular against the movie, both because it continued a long and dishonourable tradition of Hollywood whitewashing, and because it contributed to an erasure of Asian identity in American filmmaking. (Cameron Crowe subsequently posted a rather limp-wristed apology for his casting choice, against which there was, unsurprisingly, another backlash.)

What does this have to do with Harry Potter, you ask, gentle readers? Well, the casting of black actress Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger in an upcoming theatrical production, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has also sparked a backlash (on account of Hermione Granger’s ostensible whiteness) and a counter-backlash, into which fray stepped the voice of the author herself on the side of the counter-backlash, saying that Hermione’s ‘white skin was never specified’, and that she ‘loves black Hermione’.

Here’s the thing. I object to Hollywood whitewashing myself, and because turnabout is fair play, I support Noma Dumezweni’s casting in the theatrical production and tend to think it’s a good idea. What I object to is that Jo Rowling has now managed to position herself as the Cameron Crowe of her own work. She may indeed ‘love’ black Hermione with a meddling managerial Rawlsian kind of ‘love’, but clearly she doesn’t respect black Hermione, and that’s kind of troubling. What do I mean when I say she doesn’t respect black Hermione?"

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