Little Screenwriter Disowns Transphobic Joke After Backlash


The cowriter of Little has spoken out about a transphobic joke in the film.

Tracy Oliver, who penned the script with director Tina Gordon, said she did not include the problematic scene in her original draft that has received backlash on social media and in several reviews — and that it was added afterward by an unnamed source.

Little — a fantasy comedy with a PG-13 rating — stars Marsai Martin, Issa Rae, and Regina Hall, who portrays a horrible boss cursed to become a kid again. The joke, which purports to show her terrible nature, involves Hall's character misgendering a young girl and then asking her mother, “Oh, he’s transitioning?”

Oliver addressed the controversy after tweeting an interview with Entertainment Weekly earlier this month. It was titled, "How Tracy Oliver, the screenwriter behind Girls Trip and Little, is changing Hollywood." 

"Is the answer 'by including transphobic jokes in her movie'???" replied Twitter user Matt Shiv.

"As a feature writer, when you hand your draft (s) into the studio, you have no control over what ends up on screen,” Oliver responded on Twitter. “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.”

"It was disheartening and mean spirited," added Oliver. "I've been wrestling with speaking up or not, but I had to. That joke doesn't represent who I am at all."

Out producer Lena Waithe also defended Oliver. "That can happen on TV shows too. Tracy is an ally — and would never attack any group of people," Waithe tweeted.

As of the publishing of this article, Oliver is the only member of the production team to address the transphobic joke. Little was produced by Will Packer, Kenya Barris, and James Lopez. It was distributed by Universal Pictures.

Little has received a rating of 45 percent "fresh" on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator. The critic for The Hollywood Reporter noted, "A transphobic joke about a girl's masculine appearance, while feeling true to the character who says it, perhaps isn’t worth the cheap laughs when you have Regina Hall in your movie for a limited amount of time and she can literally make anything funny."

Tags: film, Transgender

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