Why Are Fans so Pissed About Netflix's Witcher?
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Whenever a new adaptation of a popular media entry is announced, there is a chance of fans getting rather protective. They might consider the thing they love theirs, could have an expectation of what they feel should be happening, and may have no problem being very vocal about their opinions. When Netflix’s The Witcher adaptation was announced, it seemed a very clear candidate for this kind of fan fervor. Naturally, it has. While some of the possible negative feedback has been minor, with a few people critiquing the casting scripts offering example situations Netflix’s team might use to cast actors in the roles, another situation had resulted in a veritable storm.

Basically, people were up in arms over Ciri. She is Geralt of Rivia’s adopted daughter. Some people are getting defensive about her casting. They were worried someone they do not “approve” of would be placed in the role. That is, Ciri is a Caucasian female in The Witcher games, and people were expecting more of the same. One National Youth Theater casting notice, which was discovered online, noted the creators were looking for “a 16 or 15 year old BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic) girl who can play down to 13/14.” This caused an outrage.

So, let’s be clear here. It is important people understand. The actress who will play Ciri had not been cast when fans started jumping to conclusions. There was no one even in mind yet. Only one casting notice from one site was used as proof that a black, Asian, minority ethnic girl might be assigned the role. People were getting upset over nothing.

Especially since Netflix’s The Witcher frontrunner, Lauren S. Hissrich, said in past tweets that she would look for diversity, but not change character’s backgrounds. Hissrich specifically said, “Will I move through the book and start changing people’s cultural heritage or ethnic makeup or gender because I’m feeling really “liberal” that day? No. That’s ridiculous and contrary to what ANY writer would do, because we are storytellers. Story comes first.” She also noted, “The answer is: I will not deviate from the books’ races and cultures, which means I WILL include minorities. The trap people fall into is equating “ minority” with skin color.” She even elaborated further and said, “But will there be minorities? Yes. A man would be a minority in Brokilon Forest. A person of color would be a minority in a small village. An islander would be an minority in Cintra. Mr. Sapkowski has said—publicly, and to me—that the Continent is big and diverse in its population, in every way (race, culture, gender, and yes, occasionally skin color, which he said he did not always specify). I’m not sure how people insinuate I’m destroying the books by recognizing that. I’m honoring the author’s own intentions. He told me so himself.”

This sort of frenzy has had negative consequences. One of which was Hissrich taking a Twitter hiatus. Part of the reason was to focus more on making Netflix’s The Witcher. Which is important, because we want that sparkling in 2020. But, Hissrich also said, “The love here is amazing, and the hate is enlightening, like a real-life Trial of the Grasses, except I HAVE to read less and write more--or we won't have a damn finale.” She called out the harassment, comparing it to the brutal trials all Witchers have to take and survive as part of their training and preparation. The thought of someone maybe, possibly, perhaps being not exactly 100% like the video game version of Ciri, drove enough people to commit actions that became part of the reason a vocal member of the creative team went dark. This was probably the most talkative person involved with Netflix’s The Witcher’s development, and now she’s stepped away.

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Meanwhile, there was no similar backlash to the casting of Henry Cahill. The man who was once Superman in the DC cinematic universe was cast as Geralt. Now, we don’t know how old Geralt is. His age was never mentioned in the books or video game. Dandilion, his best friend, is around 40 and Yennefer is around 90, and he is supposed to be older than both of them. So the age is right. But Cahill is a rather attractive and pretty person, far from the grizzled look of Geralt. Yet, no one complained about him.

Odds are, some people are going to be unhappy with the casting in Netflix’s The Witcher adaptation. Here’s a tip, though. People should wait to be unhappy about something until a decision is actually made. Don’t make wild assumptions based on rumors. And, if something does displease you, try not to be a jerk about it. You can voice an opinion without being cruel.

Jenni Lada
Jenni Lada

Writing Team
Date: 09/25/2018

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