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Little screenwriter responds to transphobic joke controversy

LITTLE CONTROVERSY: Regina Hall stars in the film

THE WRITER of Little, starring Regina Hall, Marsai Martin and Issa Rae, has responded to criticisms of a transphobic joke in the recently released film.

Oliver wrote the screenplay for the film alongside its director Tina Gordon.

The film, executively produced by 14-year-old Martin, the youngest ever executive producer in Hollywood, has been praised for being a platform for showcasing the talent of black women.

It’s director, main writers and main cast members are all black women.

In Little, Hall plays a ruthless boss who is transformed into a child version of herself.

The exchange which has caused offence involves Hall’s character, Jordan. Jordan refers to a woman’s daughter as a boy and despite the mother explaining that the child is a girl, Hall’s character continues to misgender the child and says: “Oh, he’s transitioning?”

After Entertainment Weekly published an article on Oliver, entitled How the screenwriter behind Girls Trip and Little is changing Hollywood, one Twitter user responded to a tweet promoting the feature with: “Is the answer ‘by including transphobic jokes in her movie’.”

In response to the accusation, Oliver said: “As a feature writer, when you hand your draft (s) into the studio, you have no control over what ends up on screen. 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.”

Oliver's explanation was appreciated by those who found the scene hurtful.

“As a transgender woman and film critic, it singlehandedly killed my mood upon watching the film. I wish someone had spoken up during production or editing to prevent that hurtful joke from making the final cut,” one commenter said.

Another wrote: “Thank you for addressing this. I found the joke to be particularly cringe-worthy and other critics in the room, [especially] black women, were offended by this. This didn’t seem like something you do, so thank you speaking out. I hope the studio is paying attention.”

Director and actor Lena Waithe defended Oliver over the criticisms.

Supporting Oliver’s explanation, she wrote: “That can happen on TV shows too. Tracy is an ally - and would never attack any group of people.”

Oliver said she was initially conflicted over whether to speak out about the controversial dialogue.

“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,” she said.

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