'Little' Co-Writer Tracy Y. Oliver Addresses The Film's Transphobic Joke, Says She Didn't Write It

April 22nd 2019

Little, starring and executive produced by Marsai Martin, and directed by Tina Gordon and co-written by Gordon and Girls Trip writer Tracy Y. Oliver, is a family-oriented body-swap comedy meant to inspire young people to be the best versions of themselves. But a transphobic joke that Regina Hall's character Jordan utters and doubles down on in the beginning of the film left some moviegoers feeling offended. Now, co-screenwriter Tracy Y. Oliver has named herself among them.

When Oliver reposted an interview she did with Entertainment Weekly about how she "is changing Hollywood" to her Twitter page, Twitter user Matt Shiv responded, "Is the answer 'by including transphobic jokes in the movie'???"

 

Addressing the joke, Oliver wrote, "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."

She also wrote, "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."

Lena Waithe also responded in support of Oliver, writing on Twitter, "...Tracy is an ally - and would never attack any group of people."

The joke in question involves when Regina Hall's bully character Jordan is chastised by a mother, Mrs. Parker, (Kausar Mohammed) for making out with her boyfriend (Luke James) in the hallway. Mrs. Parker didn't want her daughter to see Jordan acting this way in public. As Pajiba's Roxana Hadadi wrote, "...instead of just saying something generally mean, like 'Your kid sucks' or whatever, the script has Jordan insist that the child is a boy. Jordan calls the child Mrs. Parker's 'son,' and when Mrs. Parker insists that the child is her daughter, Jordan says some other insulting things, ending with, 'Oh, he's transitioning?'"

Clarkisha Kent pointed out the joke in the Shadow And Act review of Littlewriting that the dialogue was not just "very dated in 2019," but also "reminiscent (and as problematic) of the problems that films like Sierra Burgess Is a Loser face when trying to craft villainous or antagonistic characters...It begs the question of how one is to successfully create morally 'terrible' characters that eventually change without punching down on vulnerable audiences who are along for the ride."

Shadow And Act has reached out to co-writer and director Tina Gordon and Regina Hall for comment and will update the story with any response.

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Photo: Universal / Getty Images

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