Recently, a TikTok video went viral for spoofing what a Latino character would look like if he or she were written by JK Rowling.
The minute-long video, entitled “If JK Rowling wrote a Latino character”, was created by TikTok user @Munchy_Monk, who also goes by the name “Louie”.
The video (which has now been viewed over 2 million times), starts with Munchy_Monk reading a “script” that JK Rowling sent him.
“Um, Ms. Rowling, I’m not really sure about this character,” he says, his voice full of trepidation. In the video, the imaginary “Ms. Rowling” responds by telling him to “read the bloody script before I call immigration.”
The video continues to be more outrageous from there. His tongue firmly in his cheek, Munchy_Monk runs through the gambit of stereotypes that the media typically portrays Latinos as doing.
With an exaggerated semi-Spanish-sounding accent (one that is all-too familiar for people who watch TV), the TikTok star pretends to be a gardener (“I’m-gardening-leviosa”), a line-cook (“Accio tacos and burritos!”), and a trouble-making student (“I ain’t take no potions. I ain’t even in potions class, foo.”).
The video is also littered with punny jokes that play on Rowling’s whimsical word-choice. For example, Munchy_Monk pronounces the spell “stupify” as “estupify” and claims he comes from the Hogwarts house “Gryffindor-a the Explor-a”.
The TikTok video perfectly illustrates the way Rowling has depicted BIPOC characters in the past, as well as how the media generally portrays characters who have identities outside of what the media considers to be “standard” (i.e. white and straight).
For a few years now, there have been subsets of the internet who have taken issue with Rowling’s portrayals of BIPOC and queer characters in the the Harry Potter universe. Many consider these characters to be tokenized depictions of what real non-white, non-straight people are actually like.
Some fans have also grown frustrated to her public statement about Harry Potter characters–specifically how she publicly and retroactively “changed” theirbackstories to “gain inclusivity points” without doing the the more meaningful work of writing inclusive characters in the first place.
Although some fans celebrate Rowling’s fluid approach to the culture and identity of her characters, some claim that the post-publication changes feel inauthentic.
“The problem is we never see those elements of characterisation in the books themselves,” writer Kayleigh Anne wrote in The Independent. “The faith, race and sexuality of her characters has been shoe-horned in retroactively, and it can’t help but ring hollow.”
Of course, the icing on the problematic cake has been the recent transphobic comments and forthcoming book JK Rowling has made about and against trans people. All of these circumstances put into question JK Rowling’s status as an ally to queer and BIPOC people–if she ever was one in the first place.
But one thing is worth admitting: all of the above make Munchy_Monk’s TikTok video especially poignant and darkly hilarious.
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