Netlfix’s Fate: The Winx Saga Erases a Latinx Character, and We’re Not Having It
Did they think we wouldn't notice?
Hollywood is back at it again with the erasure of a Latinx character in Fate: The Winx Saga. And like every other time Hollywood has done this, this Latina is not having any of it. The Netflix adaptation, based on the animated series Winx Club, has already faced major criticism in addition to this erasure. And it hasn’t even come out yet!
Part of the criticism it has faced is due to the generic, dark-young-adult-fantasy look of it all. Winx Club was vibrant, colorful, and unapologetically girly. Stripping that away and replacing it with an edgy vibe is not the way to go and not what fans wanted at all. Also, who wants another Riverdale-esque show? Not me.
But the core reason why fans old and new are upset with Fate: The Winx Saga is due to the whitewashing of the characters. Musa, who was designed with Lucy Lui in mind, is played by Elisha Applebaum, who doesn’t appear to be East Asian. And Flora, who was designed with famed Latina Jennifer Lopez in mind, has been completely erased from the story.
As a Latina, this news made me mad. When I found out that she had been replaced by Eliot Salt’s character Terra, a white character with similar powers, I was even more mad. Just to clarify, I wasn’t mad at the body positivity that I saw. That’s always grand to see, and I’m a big girl myself. What I was mad about is that the show decided that Latinx people like me didn’t matter, so why bother paying attention to that aspect of the character in adaptation?
Fate: The Winx Saga could’ve cast a thick Latinx woman to play Flora if they were looking for a combination of Latinx and body representation. Trust me, there are plenty of actresses out there that would love to play a fairy going to a magical school for the gifted. Instead, Netflix completely erased Flora and replaced her for no reason.
It leads me to believe that there was either A) a lack of representation in the writers’ room or B) creator Iginio Straffi was completely steamrolled and ignored. A staggering lack of diversity in the writers’ room isn’t a surprise. We’ve still got a long way to go, and gatekeeping is a real thing. But to ignore the creator, who said that he modeled Flora after JLo, is ignorant and speaks ill of the show.
Having watched the series premiere of Fate: The Winx Saga, I can say that Terra is a kind and brave young fairy. But I can’t invest in her and this show when all I can think about is who she’s replacing. I also can’t stop thinking about how Hollywood is telling Latinx people that we are easily replaceable and no one will mind. The joke’s on them, I guess. I mind, and I’m not the only one.
Hollywood, next time you think Latinx erasure is a good idea, take a look around. Ask yourself and others if your writers’ room is diverse, if you’re erasing someone else’s story, and if you’re the right one to tell this story in the first place. Only by answering honestly can we make meaningful change that puts Latinx creators in places that turn the tide when it comes to representation.
(image: Jonathan Hession/NETFLIX © 2020)
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