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  • Playing with Potter

Playing with Potter

In a world largely structured to drive compliance, routine, conformity and status quo, there is most certainly a hunger for adventurous creative entertainment that provides people a reprieve from their daily consumer driven lives. In fact, its big business, if you get it right.  

I’ve become curious about the ebb and flow of trends depicted through sales that occur in literature and their movie adaptations. J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series springs to mind and of course my absolute favorite Dr. Suess is the other example of how providing a literary based stimulus for people to leverage from as a platform for their own imaginations to launch is a defining success factor in what makes a great concept contain the potential to become an unprecedented success.

Recently, I saw some articles and commentary around noise being created over the casting choice of the character Hermione for a London stage play of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. What’s interesting is the fact that their choice of casting is a clear deviation from the visual depiction placed in the movies. I’m not privy to the comments made specifically by the people who are voicing their unhappiness with the choice, but I do appreciate that there is a slant toward suggesting that the negative responses have an undertone of racism associated. In actuality, what I am wondering is whether the resistance is less about the appointed actress: Noma Dumezweni’s skin color and more aligned to the fact that the person chosen does not represent alignment to the visual cues that have been well established and dearly loved by the countless fans.

In saying the above, I can affirm that the lack of etiquette used by some through the false bravado of ‘autonomy’ that social media avenues can and does seem to afford, gives people the channels to slander with little regard or account for their choice of language. I know the pitfalls and have seen the impact it has on the recipients who read inappropriately conveyed comments and take this to heart. This is why I can appreciate how there would be an adoption of perspective that people are being racist. No doubt some are. I still, however, suspect the public outcry is largely a demonstration of their resistance to accept change. In this case, it is an alteration of visual depiction.

J K Rowling created the Harry Potter series from her imagination. Those of us, who have read the series have been taken on a fantastical journey that has stimulated our senses and entertained our minds. When the series was translated for the big screen and the characters were developed and cast, we reveled in the presentation. Visual cues are an undeniably powerful influence. When I see anyone wearing spherical glasses I think of Harry Potter. Just as when I spy someone in a crowd wearing round sun glasses, I think of John Lennon. What we associate to, becomes by default familiar and in the case of fictional characters, I might even go as far as to say these cues help to catapult them to life.

Post watching the films I went back and re-read the series to see how the introduction of the imagery altered my journey the second time around. Personally, I find the side characters in books, particularly endearing and as such, thoroughly enjoy being witness to their creation / translation to the big screen when an adaptation occurs. Dobby in the Harry Potter Series and Gollum in The Lord of the Rings are examples of this. What I noticed upon reading the books again, this time I could hear the sound of the onscreen character’s voices in my mind. Professor Snape and Dobby in particular were crystal clear. It shows the influence that can be made when the onscreen depiction is embraced by the viewer.

The global success of the film adaptation of the Harry Potter series has created an appreciation of the appearance of the characters that has been entrenched in our minds. Even though as Rowling has mentioned that the books don’t define Hermione’s character by skin tone, it has been through film. To my line of thinking I wonder if J K Rowling allowed herself to be influenced by people’s opinions in the past, would we have this amazing series as it stands? I suggest not.

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”  ― Michel de Montaigne

Should we celebrate J K Rowling as a creative artist whose thoughts and expression have provided countless people insurmountable joy and as such embrace her right to do as she wishes or do we push our sense of entitlement to what is familiar and known to attempt to impose and drive compliance, routine, conformity toward the status quo?

Here’s my message to those who are condemning the casting choice of Noma Dumezweni’s in the role of Hermione. Please consider this; Why do you feel entitled to determine who should or shouldn’t be cast at all? The world that J K Rowling’s has created and shares with us, is first and foremost hers.

Congratulations to J K Rowling’s, the cast and crew on the kick off of the previews in London. By all accounts thus far, I can see the internet is buzzing with positive reviews.

Blessings – Truth Devour

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