J.K. Rowling standing by Depp

We get celebrities to give their take on a current issue each week and lend their perspective to a much-discussed topic.

When J. K. Rowling defended the casting of Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, her fanbase, which is otherwise always cheering up for her from the trenches, was left unhappy. Johnny, who is accused of domestic abuse against ex-wife Amber Heard, was seemingly given a clean chit. This was seen to be contrasting of Rowling, who has openly spoken in defence of women frequently.

We ask authors and social thinkers about the Harry Potter creator’s decision, and what it means coming from a feminist icon like her.

‘He should be allowed to act in films’
Abishek Krishnan, Author

Personal issues shouldn’t come into the workplace. Of course, being accused of domestic violence or physical abuse is a really serious matter, but he’s not been proven guilty by law. Johnny Depp should be allowed to do his job — it’s good to see Rowling support him.

Cinema shouldn’t be seen so much as part of our lives — it’s just another industry, an industry with a lot more responsibility. Depp is not playing himself in his films. He’s portraying the character penned by the directors and writers. Unless proven guilty by law, one has the right to continue with regular life and that includes the profession as well.

‘Her defence doesn’t come to me as a surprise’
Babitha Marina Justin, Writer and Artist

In the past, we have seen Rowling be territorial about her work. For instance, she once heavily sued a television show Hari Putter, an Indian adaptation, for violating copyrights. And, her defence doesn’t come to me as a surprise. It is again not surprising that certain self-made men and women, who are icons who are looked up to, behave in a clannish manner. They swipe away the ethics and ideals they profess through their work. Such a statement unfortunately serves as an implicit endorsement to all that feminism has fought for.

‘I can very well understand why J. K. Rowling’s statement upset her fans’
Anand Neelkantan, Author of Asura

I can very well understand why J. K. Rowling’s statement upset her fans. They have grown up reading her books and idolising her. For them to know now that she is playing “devil’s advocate” in this situation isn't palatable. But is she answerable to them? I can’t be too sure. See, it is very difficult to figure out what exactly should to be done in such cases because until a person is proven guilty, they are assumed innocent. And believing accusations where such huge projects are depending on these men, will only harm a larger group — the film's crew and their investments. What, there are so many allegations (and even proof) against Donald Trump. But is something done? No.

‘We cannot deny the fact that Johnny Depp has a bad record in the past’
Indrajit Lankesh, Indian Filmmaker

I understand why J.K. Rowling would defend Johnny Depp — he is a huge star and the Harry Potter franchise is a multi-million dollar enterprise. So a lot of investment has already been made. But, at the same time we cannot deny the fact that Johnny Depp has had a bad record in the past. So, the backlash was in a way justified because any for actor, whether in India or any part of the world, their social behaviour is a huge concern mainly because it reflects on the youth today. Since, the Harry Potter franchise is a family-friendly series it will have a huge impact on their branding.

‘One must take a stance and stop working with them’
Nandini Reddy, Filmmaker

For a very long time, whenever crimes against women happen, people prefer silence. The Harvey Weinstein movement is great because it encouraged people to come out and talk about it. Having said that, we must move forward with caution. I don’t think we should condemn people and strip them of a job because of an allegation. With Harvey, it makes sense because there were so many people who said he had made them feel uncomfortable. If it was just one allegation, she would have been crushed like a bug. So I think we should wait till he is proven guilty.

But, when it comes to whether filmmakers must look past people’s personal transgressions, I think one cannot really draw such sharp lines between the personal and professional. If a doctor is accused of murdering somebody, one wouldn’t say that he’s a great doctor, let him continue his practice. So why not apply the same thing in this profession too? Also, one must take a stance. Earlier, the attitude was such that whatever has happened has happened, we have to go on with our lives, but now it is different. If you want something like this to stop, one must take a stance and stop working with them.

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