Dear JK Rowling,
(**warning: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them spoilers***)
When I was little I read Harry Potter for the first time. I can’t tell you what it meant to me on so many levels, but there was one particular thing that resonated. Harry was a boy who got locked in his room, who got shouted at, who was crushed down and made to feel unwelcome and even, sometimes, unsafe in his own home.
And he got to go to magic school. He survived those dreaded Dursleys. More than that, he triumphed. Reading about it was like having a hand to hold.
It occurred to me, for the first time, that being shouted at and bullied at home as a kid didn’t have to mean you were doomed to be sad forever, because one day your life would be so full of other things - good and bad - that the past would barely feature in your life. The Dursleys were largely so, so irrelevant. It was great.
And now I come out of seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and I am so hurt and confused. Because in Credence, you created a character that would resonate with so many people who are sad, people who are bullied, people who are forced to hide who they truly are even from those closest to them. You have undoubtedly touched some of the most emotionally vulnerable people in the world with an astoundingly good visual metaphor - a character whom the scared and the lost could easily connect to.
And then you let him die. No, in fact - you killed him.
He went without a word. He was sad and terrified, right til the end. Throughout the story, it would have taken so little to try to help him. Tina, knowing about his predicament, apparently only tracked his family following her demotion - was he not worth the risk of grabbing his wrist and disapparating with him to a safe place, an orphanage? Was he not even worth the attempt? And when the MACUSA wizards were firing their killing blows, was he not even worth an attempted protego? Useless it may have been, but God, if he had to die, show me that that abused and terrified kid was worth every gut-wrenching fruitless bloody try.
Please, JK. I love your work. I love so much of it. But please, if you’re going to tell me a story about an abused kid, and if you really have to kill him off, please give him the slow-motion shots and the tears and the last words, give him the send-off, tell me why it has to happen, tell me how the main characters are hurt by it, tell me how they’re going to try to make it better. Please don’t give all those things instead to a man being obliviated by rain, whose amnesia is hinted to have been reversed anyway at the end.
If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it right. Abused people are not your emotional fodder or your plot devices. They aren’t doomed to die. Their anger and their sadness won’t inevitably lead to their fatal self-destruction. They deserve to be given reasons to hope. And they deserve to see themselves being worth every single effort to help them.