‘Little’ Screenwriter Speaks Out After The Film Faces Backlash Over Transphobic Joke

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 04:  (L-R) Tina Gordon, Issa Rae, Marsai Martin, Regina Hall, and Will Packer attends "Little" Atlanta red carpet screening at Regal Atlantic Station on April 04, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal)

‘Little’ Screenwriter Speaks Out After The Film Faces Backlash Over Transphobic Joke

Many feel the Issa Rae-starring comedy crossed the line.

Published April 23, 2019

The recently released comedy, Little, starring Marsai Martin, Issa Rae and Regina Hall has received tons of support since its opening weekend. Now, with a couple of weeks passing since its premiere, the film is being hit with some backlash over a transphobic joke that appeared in the film’s opening sequence.

  1. attends the Variety's Power Of Women at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.
    (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

    The screenplay, which was co-written by Tracey Oliver and the film's director, Tina Gordon, told the story of an overbearing boss who reverts to the kid version of herself.

    Upon seeing the movie, viewers complained about a particular scene which showed Hall's character, Jordan, arguing with a mother who criticized her for making out with her boyfriend in public. During the exchange, Jordan referred to the woman's daughter as a boy, and when she stressed that her child was, in fact, a girl, Jordan responded, "Oh, he's transitioning?"

    The social media backlash was swift, and Oliver — credited as the film’s main writer — took the brunt of it by people assuming she’s the one who wrote the insensitive joke. But, it turns out, she didn’t. And Oliver took to Twitter on Monday to explain herself.

    "As a feature writer, when you hand your draft(s) into the studio, you have no control over what ends up on screen," she wrote. "Often, you're elated. Other times, you're disappointed. I did not write that particular joke and was disappointed to see it. It was insensitive and unnecessary."

    When a fan of the movie commended her for speaking out and clarifying her involvement in the decision to include the insensitive joke, she added, "It was disheartening and mean spirited. I've been wrestling with speaking up or not, but I had to. That joke doesn't represent who I am at all."

  2. Lena Waithe, a vocal LGBTQ community member and advocate, also took to Twitter to cape for Oliver, who she stressed is not transphobic in any way.

    "That can happen on TV shows too," she wrote. "Tracy is an ally — and would never attack any group of people."

    Oliver responded, "Thank you, Lena. I sure as hell try to be an ally."

  3. The film's studio has not yet commented on the backlash.

Written by Moriba Cummings

(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal)


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