Mindy Kaling is set to star in a new spinoff series of “Scooby Doo” called “Velma” on HBO Max. Kaling will play the main character, the mastermind of Mystery Inc. But months after the original announcement, some criticize the choice – some making racist arguments against him.
Kaling will produce the 10-episode animated series which is a comedic take on the character’s origins, Entertainment Tonight reported in February.
In reaction to the news, someone on Twitter posted a gif of Michael Scott from “The Office” shouting “No!” That tweet was deleted – but not before Kaling, writer and actor on that sitcom, was able to respond.
“I wrote the episode of The Office that this gif is from,” she replied.
Last week, Tom Ascheim, president of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics revealed more about the show and more critics have started to denounce the idea on Twitter. At The TV Kids summer festival, Ascheim said the show was “not for children” and that Velma, like Kaling, will be of East Asian descent.
She will also be living “in a different world” where “there is no dog or van,” he said.
Some of the reviews on Twitter were harsh and even racist. A nobody wrote a “Scooby Doo show without Scooby Doo where the soul’s purpose is to swap a character, written by and with Mindy Kaling”, it seems “would be played in my personal hell 24/7” .
“Another attempt to change the past of cartoons, movies, popular books, everything we love. Sorry guys, all of your memories are flying away,” another person said. tweeted.
“It’s Velma, except she’s Asian and there’s no Mystery Inc. in other words, it’s not Velma,” said another. tweeted.
While the original cartoon “Scooby Doo” began airing in the 1960s, there have been several adaptations – and Velma has once been played by an Asian woman.
Hayley Kiyoko, of Japanese descent, played Velma in two live TV dramas that aired on Cartoon Network in 2009 and 2010.
Many others online have defended Kaling’s casting. “Velma is trendy due to the new imagination of her design and I am looking for more POCs in our old school series”, a Twitter the user wrote.
“Why are people so mad that Velma is Asian in Mindy Kaling’s version, she’s not real, she’s not connected to any culture and if you don’t like her scooby doo has been around for decades . There are like a billion white versions of Velma you can watch, “another person wrote.
Others were content to criticize the other changes in the adaptation. “I really love the idea of an East Asian Velma!… I really don’t understand the point of making a new series based on Scooby Doo [intellectual property] if you are going to remove Scooby Doo from the IP? It sounds strange, even as a marketing movement, ” someone tweeted.
Asian Americans are rarely featured as the main characters in TV show movies, even though they are the fastest growing ethnic or racial group in the United States, according to Nielsen, a research firm.
Pamela Pan, Ph.D., professor of composition, literature, and reading, says portrayal is important to Asian Americans in movies. “Even when the characters don’t represent our lives, at least they represent culture, language and heritage,” Pan writes in an article on Medium.
“The situation must change. How? More minorities must occupy decision-making positions. More Asian Americans must write their own stories,” writes Pan, who has researched multicultural literature. She added that more Asian American directors were also needed.
With Kaling not only playing an Asian American character, but producing the series, there will be a portrayal of East Asian America on and off screen.