Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has grossed over $500 million worldwide after less than a fortnight on release.
Hogwarts creator J.K.Rowling, who wrote the screenplay for the movie, transplanted her world of magic from England to 1926 New York – and is once again laughing all the way to the bank.
But many are asking on social media: is the film anti-American, given its incredibly dark depiction of the USA?
In Fantastic Beasts… Brit Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York and discovers an intolerant city controlled by the Magical Congress of the United States of America that enforces the death penalty.
The magical community has been forced underground to avoid “No-Majs” (the US equivalent of Muggles). No-Majs hunt witches and “racial” segregation is enforced, at least between magic and non-magical humans (wizards caught marrying, or fraternizing with, No-Majs are punished). This means no “Half-Bloods”, like, say, Professor Snape (the child of a muggle and a witch). To some, this appeared to be a metaphor for America’s early laws against interracial marriage.
At one point Newt critically remarks: “You have rather backwards laws about relations with non-magic people. That you’re not meant to befriend them, that you can’t marry them, which seems mildly absurd to me.”
The America of Rowling’s imagination is too much for some on Twitter who have called her out for misrepresenting the USA:
jk_rowling really let her anti-American bias show in Fantastic Beasts. I wanted a new series in America but I dont anymore
— Ashaman (@_Ashaman) November 20, 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is JK Rowling’s “F YOU” to the USA. The accuracy is scary good though.
— Analicia Feliciano (@analiciapaloma) November 21, 2016
LOL. Fantastic Beasts was highkey hinting that USA is indeed the land of discrimination LOL gotcha
— baby niffler. (@kanekistellar) November 28, 2016
JK Rowling must think the USA is a very intolerant place. #FantasticBeasts
— Greg Streech (@gregstreech) November 24, 2016
— Allegra Kauffman (@allegrakauffman) November 22, 2016
J.K. Rowling insulted the USA a little bit with Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. If you didn’t pick up on it I understand, but she did
— Silas Osborn (@silasmarcosborn) November 20, 2016
@FantasticBeasts is a fine film, timely critique of USA: we don’t conserve natural world, still have death penalty, and demonize the “other”
— Morgan Bolt (@MBoltAuthor) November 19, 2016
in the theater to see fantastic beasts lads and i only complained about how jk rowling doesnt know shit about america twice during dinner
— Bring👏Vriska👏Home (@tigertub) November 21, 2016
Fantastic beasts and where to find them is fab because it recognises that even in the wizarding world America is a fucked up place X
— L E A N I C O L L E (@LeaLevine) November 28, 2016
Saw fantastic beasts and they portrayed America as racists and homophobes. Typical liberal hollywood anti-america. Also madam president
— Daz (@Dazootz) November 25, 2016
— J.C. Charles (@jjyoyo) November 26, 2016
— Kester Brewin (@kesterbrewin) November 25, 2016
And, of course, Donald Trump gets thrown into the mix:
Found #fantasticbeasts really sad with lost family & child abuse at heart of it glossed over by cgi beasts. An America of Trump times though
— Dr Debbie (@poisonchallis) November 25, 2016
If we needed real proof that we’re now living in Trump’s America, #FantasticBeasts is it.
— Jaylene Chung (@jayelstrom) November 19, 2016