When I was 8, my class used to have to sing this god-awful song called “Dr Knickerbocker”.
Now I was a GOOD kid. I was basically the original “goody good”. I remember being so tormented by some childhood misdeed that I actually threw myself at dad’s feet weeping and BEGGING to be smacked (he declined).
I was never naughty, ever. But I drew the line when it came to Dr Knickerbocker.
Dr Knickerbocker was my arch nemesis. Because of him, children around the world were forced to rap about how cool maths was. I mean COME ON. RAPPING. About how cool MATHS is. No one was fooling me with that bullshit. Here’s a Youtube video I managed to find of the Wiggles brainwashing today’s children with his shit.
So every time Dr Knickerbocker started blasting out on the tape recorder, I staged a silent sit in.
I crossed my arms and clamped my mouth shut, and refused to join in on singing out that propaganda. I didn’t care if I got yelled at (I did), or sent out of the classroom (I did).
Something in me just wouldn’t allow me to join in on something that was so absolutely contradictory to my morals. My dignity wouldn’t let me sink so low as rapping with a charlatan about the virtues of counting.
And that nagging inner voice that something just isn’t right is why I just can’t get behind Johnny Depp being cast as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts.
Now I LOVE Harry Potter. I reread the books every single year. I listen to Stephen Fry read the audio books, I rewatch all the movies, I read all the theories, I even indulge in reading the odd fanfic. I’m a superfan.
I think JK Rowling has created something that’s just what we need with the rise of Voldemorts like Trump and the rupturing politics of Brexit.
But I feel like JK Rowling, previously my moon goddess, has betrayed me. She’s said that Johnny Depp is perfect for the role, because he will take it in an “interesting direction”.
If by “interesting direction”, you mean creating a character that is grating, over-acted, and just generally a little bit shit, then yes, you’re dead on, JK Rowling.
These days, Johnny Depp is that guy you can count on to take your beloved childhood movie and burn it to the ground. Yes, he was amazing in Edward Scissorhands, but he’s long since burnt all that talent up.
Remember Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Remember who ruined them? Oh yes, that’s right. JOHNNY OVER ACTOR DEPP. He’s like that annoying kid in drama class who talks too loud and over-enunciates everything who all the parents ADORE and you just want to scream BUT THEY SUUUUUCK.
Secondly, and this is really where JK Rowling has let me, fans, and the thousands of women and children who are abused every where down – she is putting someone in a film for children who has been accused of domestic abuse.
And there is plenty of evidence that he’s very likely to be guilty. There’s his wife Amber Heard’s black eye, there’s statements from mutual friends about his long history of violence towards her, scrawling vile things about her with his own severed finger, and beating her with a wine bottle so badly that she woke up with her pillow covered in blood.
Surely there are other actors, who don’t have a shadow of that kind of horror hanging over them.
I love Harry Potter. I love JK Rowling and I love what she created. I thought she was a woman of principle.
But I just can’t stomach watching someone who I think is very likely an abuser on the big screen that little children will watch over and over again, having it mean differing things to them at different stages of their lives.
Seeing Johnny Depp on the big screen and having him lauded by the childhood hero JK Rawling no less – what bigger endorsement can you get?
I know that my boycott of one is not going to change the world. The loss of five ticket sales (they’re really hammering this franchise, to death, aren’t they?) is hardly going to hit Warner Brothers in the pocket.
But if I don’t take a stand, who will?
So when Fantastic Beasts beams into screens around the world in the coming years, there’s going to be one seat empty.
I hope you’ll join me.