Ever since The Witcher was revealed, fans of the series have taken to the internet to raise concerns over the possible race & gender swaps of certain characters of the book. This has led to Lauren Hissrich, the showrunner for Netflix’s adaptation to address this by replying to Twitter users online. Her response to one person in particular was rather interesting so I wanted to discuss it today!
If you’d like to read her full tweet thread in its entirety, you can find it here. Anyways, most of her tweets were based on the notion that American television and movies (being the most popular form of entertainment) has a moral obligation to do right after years of misrepresentation. She argues that since the Witcher will be viewed by over 190 countries, it is important that the show feels inclusive. For me, I agree with the notion that representation is important, however for some reason I don’t agree with every show needing to be inclusive when the story does not call for it. That’s forcing something that’s never meant to be and well in turn, messing with the vision of the story.
Another statements that she made on Twitter is that, and I quote:
The books are Polish and packed with Slavic spirit. It was important to keep that same tone in our show. With that in mind, I asked around (especially to Polish friends): can the Slavic culture be reduced solely down to skin color? The answer was resounding: god, we hope not.
This is something I’ll need verifying by the Polish community, but I’ll give my stance on this anyways as an outsider. Picture this, lets say we’re making a movie, based on a book, which heavily draws its inspiration from the native Aboriginal culture of old (as an an example), would it be a far reach to say that the people who’s culture are been used would be based on the people themselves (language, race and all)? The skin colour part strikes me as odd as I would imagine if people are thinking about their own culture, the predominant race’s skin colour of that culture would come to mind. There’s a reason why the Romans depicted Christianity as white romans at the time and drew Jesus as white when that religion was first introduced to them from the Middle East.
Nowadays, we have people mingling in all types of cultures, however this book is set in a certain time period, where access to travel is limited. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be black people or asian people in where The Witcher’s story is based, but it would be of very small or limited margin if we’re been realistic. I’m just saying, i’m only going off what’s based in the book’s narrative.
I’ve heard from people who’ve read the book that Geralt does make remarks when he sees other humans of different skin-tones, that he once remarked on how it’s odd to see those races so far from their continent. This has yet to be confirmed, so if you have read the books and know the paragraph from which this statement comes from, let me know.
I personally think that given the context of the books themselves, if the character has already been depicted and described in a certain way that alludes to a certain race, just hire that race. I’m saying this based on the climate of today’s society, if you recall, the masses lost their shit over Scarlett Johansson playing an Asian character, and claiming to have the rights to play anything. Remember? Some supported her, many attacked her, proving the hypocrisy of our time.
I mean, if I’m reading a book loosely based on the African continent, in a mystical setting, and there’s other creatures there, (dragon, talking lions, hyena’s that can fly and are merchants of the desert) and not once did they describe the skin tone of the main character, if they casted him/her as white, do you think society today would be cool with that?
Look, at this point I just want this series to be good. Let me know your thoughts on this.