Squad 99, or the problem of replacing racialized female characters with their white alter-egos.
Cool, cool, cool… The Quebec platform Club Illico unveiled on August 20, 2020 the trailer of its remake of Brooklyn 99, an American series created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, which follows the incredible adventures of a gang of New York detectives.
Known for her diversity and her very fair humorous approach to sensitive subjects such as racism or sexism, Brooklyn 99 recently won over French audiences: the last season is available exclusively on Canal +. The announcement of the creation ofSquad 99 by our Quebec cousins had therefore delighted more than one, and its trailer quickly made the rounds on social networks, eliciting more or less enthusiastic reactions from fans.
Whitewashing: a very pale copy
At first glance, this French version seems to be an exact copy of the original: there are almost the same scenes, as well as very similar sets. However, we quickly notice that something is wrong with the casting. If the character of Jake, the hero of the original series, has been replaced by his near-true copy with the irresponsible adulescent look, the same cannot be said of his cronies Amy and Rosa.
Forgetting the South American origins of the characters, renamed Fanny and Rosalie, the Quebec production chose to cast Caucasian actresses to interpret their roles. A problematic decision, which once again contributes to the invisibility of minorities on television.
Shocked – and rightly so – by this turnaround, several Internet users have expressed their dissatisfaction with the whitewashing (“whitewashing” in English, or the fact of replacing a racialized figure by another white) that the two suffered. female leads from the series. Indeed, in addition to removing part of their identity, this choice also prevents Fanny and Rosalie from remaining the emblematic characters of intersectional feminism that are Amy and Rosa.
Talhi, a Canadian illustrator of Latina origin, has chosen to express herself on the subject through the prism of education, calling on Patrick Huard, actor in charge of the adaptation of the series.
While fans were left in awe of the new faces ofSquad 99, the news also reached the ears of the original cast: Melissa Fumero, Amy's singer, responded to the trailer with a bitter tweet.
“I understand that the South American population is in the minority in Quebec (and how many of them are comedy actors?), But the roles of Amy and Rosa could have been given to actresses of any other ethnic group. It’s disappointing that this opportunity has not been taken. ”
One more situation which makes it possible to point out the importance of diversity in the face of audiovisual whitewashing, and to cross paths with others so that it does not happen again in the future.
See also: The selection of Netflix to better understand discrimination and fight against racism