Fantastic Beasts Bumped, Depp Dumped

There were two big bits of news this last week in Warner Brothers’ Fantastic Beasts film franchise.

The first is that the third Beasts film, still not named, has been pushed back from its November 2021 release date to sometime in the summer of 2022. Variety covers that story here.

The second is the announcement that Johnny Depp will not be playing the role of Gellert Grindelwald in Beasts 3. He was asked to step down after losing a libel case against his ex-wife and he agreed to do so sans protest (which suggests he was bought out with a generous settlement). From that story’s Variety report:

“I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and I have respected and agreed to that request,” he wrote Friday on Instagram.

Depp’s exit from the “Harry Potter” spinoff series comes days after he lost his libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that published an article in 2018 alleging he was a “wife beater.” Depp said he plans to appeal the ruling.

TIME magazine has run a piece already with the title, ‘Just Cancel the Fantastic Beasts Franchise Already.’ The reasons they offer for the cancellation are all Critique related, which is to say, that the franchise is forever tainted by accusations against principal players of violating Social Justice Canonical Law. The secular fundamentalists policing our culture assert that Depp’s supposed acts of violence against his wife, Ezra Miller’s supposed attack on a woman in an Iceland bar, and Rowling’s supposed transphobia add up to three strikes against the series.

I agree with the conclusion but differ with every piece as well as the logic of their argument. [Read more…]

Beatrice Groves: Two New Strike Posts!

Beatrice Groves, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter and a Research Fellow and Lecturer at Trinity College, Oxford University, is a Serious Striker and Potter Pundit of Renown. She writes for Leaky-Cauldron.org, MuggleNet.com, as well as for HogwartsProfessor — links to all her brilliant posts and podcasts have been collected on this Pillar Post page if you want to binge! — and I know that our readers here look forward as I do to everything new she has written.

This week she has posted two pieces at Leaky-Cauldron.org, her first articles I think since that website chose to ‘cancel’ J. K. Rowling and cast her out of Harry Potter fandom discussion; they did this for the thought-crime of transgressing acceptable opinions about transgender overreach and excesses in the United Kingdom. Professor Groves is the only writer at Leaky-Cauldron and MuggleNet that mentions She Who Must Not Be Named at those fan sites and Rowling-Galbraith’s new works, the Cormoran Strike mysteries.

The two pieces that went up this week, consequently, have something of the flavor of evangelical material; each introduces and explains the brave new world of Cormoran and Robin’s adventures to Harry Potter readers at Leaky-Cauldron who may not yet be aware of  the five books in print, which explanation and example of the fun to be had by Rowling Readers serves as an excellent invitation to the Galbraith series. And that’s an important effort, even if current evidence shows such outreach may be pearls before swine.

For Serious Strikers here at HogwartsProfessor, the two new posts are both an excellent review of much of what Prof Groves has written about the Peg-Legged PI previously and a delightful helping of bon mots of Troubled Blood interpretation that we have not yet seen. Enjoy!

**Harry Potter and the Mysteries of Cormoran Strike: Part 1 (Introductory Ideas)

**Harry Potter and the Mysteries of Cormoran Strike: Part 2 (Cratylic Names)

Troubled Blood: The Seal and Three Men

In chapter two of Troubled Blood, Strike has a smoke outside The Victory before climbing the hill for another uncomfortable night and early morning wake-up at the Nancarrow homestead. His reflections and cigarette smoking are interrupted by Anna Phipps and Kim Sullivan who ask him to consider taking on the cold case of Margot Bamborough’s disappearance.

Two images are offered repeatedly through this discussion: a seal in the water beneath the sea break and three young men catching a boat-ride. After the jump, I’ll review the times seals and the three drunk youths appear in the text and their probable source in Christian iconography, specifically, images from the life of St Maudez for whom St Mawes, Cornwall, is named. [Read more…]

Shepherd and Biddle: Rowling’s Favorite A-Level Teachers (1998 Interview)

Just when you think that nothing new will be found in the Rowling Archives, a new-old-interview pops up. Here is a 1998 interview with new literary sensation, ‘Joanne’ Rowling rather than ‘J. K.,’ in which she discusses her favorite teachers, the one who prepared her for A-Levels in English and the other who helped with her French. The only reason it is called an “interview” is because Rowling answers the question, “Who were your favorite teachers?” It is, in other words, a testimonial from the Pre-Potter Mania author, not yet hesitant to share personal information with Rita Skeeter, rather than a questions-and-answers back-and-forth. Enjoy!

Lucy Shepherd was one of my English teachers at Wyedean comprehensive, near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. I became head girl there – possibly the only head girl to be warned about smoking behind the bike sheds.

She was quite young – in her twenties and didn’t look authoritarian, but she had no problems with discipline because she had an aura around her that inspired respect. I had a great relationship with her, but she did not try to be friends or court being liked. In fact, she was rather abrasive, but also dry and funny. Yet she was the only teacher I ever went to with a boyfriend problem, although she would not have been most people’s first choice for a friendly chat.

I still remember the books I did with her for A-level English literature – Tender is the Night [Fitzgerald], Decline and Fall [Waugh]. She gave me a sharp appreciation of what’s good in writing and what makes a book good. [Read more…]

Guest Post: On the Naming Fear & Jinxing in Harry Potter (Pratibha Rai)

Pratibha Rai is an Oxford University graduate and she has been a Harry Potter partisan since 2001. Her research today mostly concerns the sociology of collecting in early modern Europe. She enjoys finding parallels between Harry Potter and history of art. This time last year she shared with us what she discovered about that life-saving short-cut antidote, the Bezoar; today she shares her thoughts on ‘Naming Fear and Jinxing’ in the Hogwarts Saga. Enjoy!

Words have more power than any one can guess; it is by words that the world’s great fight, now in these civilized times, is carried on.”

When Mary Shelley penned this line in her penultimate novel ‘Lodore’ (1835), she was advocating the power of words in the context of bringing about social change. Words do not lifelessly sit on a page but are actionable and combative in “the world’s great fight”. In this martial metaphor, we can assume that words can either be a weapon or a defence – determined entirely by the speaker. This double-edged nature of words is echoed in Proverbs 18:21 from the Bible, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Nowhere is this more literally true than in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter universe where speaking or not speaking Voldemort’s name is a matter of life and death. In this article, I shall explore J.K Rowling’s passionate interest in the power of words in battle primarily through the active Taboo cast on Voldemort’s name; a device that highlights the role that Fear has over silence and speech. [Read more…]