Fantastic Feminism and Where to Find It

By Kassel Franco Garibay

A few weeks ago the Harry Potter enthusiasts were finally given one more movie, and the promise of four movies more. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” takes place in New York City in 1926, but that is not the only thing that distinguishes it from the movies we all know and adore, and I would dare say it is not the more important difference. I recently read an article on Bustle about the new Harry Potter universe hero, Newt Scamander, and he is who truly sets this movie apart.

It might seem a little obvious to point out that Harry Potter is no longer the hero in this storyline (after all, he is not even born yet), but I think that it is vital to expose the differences in character between him and Newt Scamander. Whether J.K. Rowling had a feminist agenda or not when writing this screenplay is unknown to me, but she definitely did a fantastic job destroying toxic masculinity. “Boys don’t cry” is a popular saying that comes with very negative outcomes; it promotes a culture of bottling one’s feelings and allowing them to become poisonous over time. The vast majority of male heroes we see are portrayed as manly and emotionally inept; even our own dear Harry Potter spent a whole year sulking and lashing out at his closest friends (Order of the Phoenix, for the less HP-obsessed).

But Newt Scamander is the exception. He is an endearing magizoologist that is not afraid of showing emotions at all. In the film we see this Hufflepuff cry, we see him laugh, we see him weep, we see him beg, and we also see him calling himself “Mum”. In summation, he is nothing like the heroes we are used to seeing in films, and this is important to note because we tend to internalize the values we consume in media. By showing only reserved, and emotionless male heroes, we are promoting the idea that men are not supposed to feel a thing, while women feel too much. I was glad to hear the positive reviews about this movie and its main character, because it shows that, as a society, we are ready for a new generation of heroes. We are ready to accept emotions, and the bravery that comes with them.

Kassel is a freshman.

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