Mindy Kaling is the voice of Velma in a new Scooby Doo spinoff and some fans are upset that the character will be reimagined as South Asian
Just another day of adults being upset that a classic character will be reimagined as non-white. It was announced earlier this year by HBO that Velma, a Scooby Doo spinoff, would be an “adult animated comedy series” all about Velma’s origin story with the mega-talented Mindy Kaling as both her voice and producer on the project. Things were going along just fine, Kaling says, until it was shared that the character would also be reimagined as South Asian.
“When it was announced that I was going to do the voice of Velma, people were very supportive and happy on Twitter,” Kaling shared during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Thursday. “And so I felt great.”
Kaling acknowledges that the fandom for the beloved character is pretty huge. “These are really intense fans, you know — cartoon, comic book fans, those are huge fans,” she said. “And especially [for] a legacy show like this.”
“Then it was announced about a month ago that the Velma character would be reimagined as South Asian,” she said. “And people were not happy.”
Well. I feel like Mindy is possibly being a bit too understanding here? The fact that grown adults get mad over an attempt at representation after decades of mostly white characters on our TV and movie screens is pretty disturbing.
“There was a lot of, like, ‘So not Velma!'” Kaling shares. “Those kind of tweets. ‘Not the classic Velma that I’m always thinking about!'”
Kaling says, “I didn’t know that she elicited such strong reactions in either direction.”
“She’s such a great character. She’s so smart. And I just couldn’t understand how people couldn’t imagine a really smart, nerdy girl with terrible eyesight, and who loved to solve mysteries, could be Indian.”
I mean. I can understand. Because people can be 100 percent awful.
“Like, there are Indian nerds,” she adds. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to people.”
It sure shouldn’t, but of course, let’s recall how folks felt when the stunning and talented Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel in a live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The reaction to Bailey playing the iconic red-headed mermaid was, shall we say, not completely enthusiastic. Folks had little hesitation in their outright racist feelings about “their” Ariel needing to be white. Guys, Ariel is a human-fish. She can be literally whoever we want her to be and it’s about damn time we saw more Black princesses and Black heroes in every story.
On that same note, it’s long past time that we saw more South Asian characters in classic roles. Thankfully, Kaling says the negative reactions only represent “a small percentage of people,” but imagine a world where that was a zero percentage. It’s 2021. Bring on characters of all colors, abilities, and backgrounds. It’s all so long overdue.