Because the hypothetical choice to hire a black actress for the character of Ciri, one of the protagonists of Netflix's The Witcher, is a problem. But that's not the problem you think it is.

Fans of Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy series and / or of The Witcher they will already know the hottest news of the moment: Netflix, which has a television series in the pipeline inspired by these works, maybe he won't choose a white actress for the role of Ciri.

Lauren S. Hissrich's comment (and the attempt to change the subject?)
Lauren S. Hissrich's comment (and the attempt to change the subject?)

For the uninitiated, in fact, an announcement published in the National Youth Center for Great Britain (not accessible to us) stated that actresses were being sought for the role of Cirilla, the princess basically adopted by Geralt and Yennefer after the destruction of the kingdom of Cintra from the Empire of Nilfgaard. However, the announcement was aimed at 15/16 year old girls, passable for XNUMX or XNUMX year olds, belonging to the category BAME.

BAME, in fact, is an acronym for "black, asian, minority ethnic”, Used to refer to the UK's non-white communities. Which seems at least strange, given that Ciri is the whitest of the whitest women in the world of The Witcher, complete with green eyes and ash blonde hair.

At the moment, from the production of the show there are neither confirmations nor denials with the director Lauren S. Hissrich who doesn't want to comment on the casting in general. With the exception of the "very special lady" who will play Rutilia, Geralt's mare.

Now, there are many things to say, each of which will annoy someone. Let's begin.

The Slavic culture of the world of Sapkowski

In these hours the comments on the fact that in Sapkowski's world there cannot be blacks, since it is a story based on Slavic culture and history, they are wasted. There had been similar threads also in conjunction with the release of The Witcher 3, when some fans complained about the lack of black people in the video game.

Now, I think it is appropriate to clarify some things, so as to clarify the more or less supposed ethnic homogeneity of the Continent.

First, yes, much of the world created by Sapkowski is inspired by Polish history, culture and folklore. Not only, in fact, this author was inspired by unique monsters of the Slavic imagination (the witcher, for example, was a demon similar to a vampire), but she also re-proposed and reworked the persecutions of Polish Jews during the XNUMXth century in racial tensions between humans and non-humans.

This homage to Slavic culture also emerges greatly from video games, in whose design the CD Projekt Red has poured the whole atmosphere of Eastern Europe into a careful and admirable work.

It is a beautiful idea, which shows us how It is possible to do European fantasy without sticking to the classic tropes of Tolkienian descent (or directly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons). It was definitely time that a fantasy world inspired by our continent was not inhabited only by elves, dwarves, dragons or goblins, with human characters with strictly English names.

This is why it is important to open international publishing to non-English-speaking authors as well cultural diversity can enrich our reading experiences. I believe, in fact, that no reader or player of The Witcher have to complain about the strong presence of Slavic folklore in these works.

The world of The Witcher however it is not only Slavic

However, it must also be remembered that the Continent is not limited to the Northern Kingdoms and Nilfgaard, but also includes the Zerrikania, the land of hot deserts where dragons are worshiped and society seems to be substantially matriarchal.

We do not know if the populations of Zerrikania are people of color, but the type of environment they inhabit suggests that they are. Furthermore, according to Sapkowski (and reported by Hissrich), the continent would actually be a world with a certain diversity of cultures, ethnic groups, genders and skin colors.

A pity that Sapkowski does not often make statements to confirm these tweets
A pity that Sapkowski does not often make statements to confirm these tweets

And, although it is rare to see dark people around the Northern Kingdoms, since Zerrikania is isolated from the Fiery Mountains, it is not even impossible to meet some of them: Geralt himself has known Tea e Vea, the tattooed warriors of Zerrikania featured in the story The constraints of reason. This, therefore, supports the claims made by Hissrich, according to which in the Netflix show we will also see minorities represented, whether they are composed of a human in the Brokilon Forest or colored people in the Northern Realms.

Until a few days ago, however, it seemed that blacks in The Witcher they would have been few, given the demography of the world, which should reflect the ethnic homogeneity present in Poland.

(That the alleged ethnic homogeneity mentioned above is also due to the fact that the Polish government does not want to take its quotas of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa, while white low-cost workers from Ukraine are doing very well, is another speech.)

Now the situation seems to have changed.

Traditional Ukrainian holidays costumes - Photo by palinchak
Costumes of traditional Ukrainian holidays - Photo by Palinchak

Ciri's problem is not politically correct, but the Americanization of a Slavic product

Now comments on the casting choices of that announcement they are wasted, passing from precise observations on the ethnic homogeneity of the Continent to reflections on how the narrative of The Witcher is already focused on diversity and racism, only declined in a dichotomy between whites and / or between humans and non-humans. I won't even talk about the whining who accuse the politically correct of ruining the fantasy, making racist photomontages of a black Ciri. It is not worth it and they also make me quite disgusting.

Let's talk about the fact that Netflix, apparently, are not looking for Slavic or Polish actors for a story extremely tied to the world and to Slavic and Polish folklore, such as to be now a flagship for Poland and for fans of Eastern Europe. Finally, in fact, many Slavic readers or players were able to enjoy a product that honored their traditions and spoke of people with names and cultures recognizable as Slavs.

In his way, The Witcher was the Black Panther Eastern Europe: a quality product that had roots in the traditions of these populations, integrating their folklore into a complex and well-built world. It is one of those national works to be proud of, which we Italian fantasy fans dream of.

Furthermore, Sapkowski's series is one of the rare cases where Slavic culture is represented without typical prejudices of many western works, in which the people of Eastern Europe enter the scene only as criminals, terrorists, hired killers of the USSR or prostitutes. Nor should it be forgotten that throughout the Nazi period the Slavs were considered to be Untermenschen, subhuman, with relative massacres carried out during the Second World War.

However, it seems that Netflix wants to take a work heavily dependent on Polish culture to exploit its success, at the cost of Americanize it and re-propose the cultural and ethnic dynamics and heterogeneity of the United States.

All, as we said, without the casting taking into consideration the idea of ​​hiring Slavic actors.

A comment in defense of the representation of the Slavs in the media.
A comment in defense of the representation of the Slavs in the media.

But if you get pissed at Ciri in color, you must be outraged by Henry Cavill too

It is however remarkable how all this mess arose due to the rumor (not confirmed by anyone) of a black, Asian, Hispanic or, in any case, colored Ciri. At this point, and only at this point, the shields have risen in defense of the "slavicity" of The Witcher.

A bit like what happened with the film Death Note: take a world-famous story written by Japanese and with Japanese characters, change the ethnicity of all the protagonists and set it all in the USA. Because in this way our audience can identify more, because if we put too many Asians then people think that we are talking about martial arts.

But hardly anyone had said anything when Henry Cavill was announced as Geralt's interpreter.

And no, Cavill is not Slavic, but English.

This outrage over Ciri, as can also be seen from the racist comments that depopulate on Reddit and Twitter, it is not due to the desire to increase the representation of the Slavs in the international media, but from the horror of seeing a "European" work (as it is so called around) "soiled" by black people. Just as it happened for Death Note, whose fuss had broken out not so much when it was discovered that Light would be white, but when it was understood that L would be black.

There are those who bring up the accuracy and proximity to the original work, and so far I perfectly understand the perspective of the criticisms, which are similar to those made by Cavill, perhaps found too young and too beautiful to play Geralt. I understand them and, as fans of the Sapkowski series and the video games of the CD Projekt Red, I too would like a product as close as possible to the imagination of books.

However, let's not talk about having fought for the representation of the Slavs since Cavill's announcement, because it is still rooted in our mentality that whites are passepartout actors, such that an Englishman can put himself in the shoes of a fantaslavo protagonist. On the contrary, evidently according to our imagination there cannot be a colored Slavic.

And anyway, let's always remember that all this controversy about Ciri was born from a rumor, from an unconfirmed news and that will probably prove false. I would therefore invite you to calm down and wait, keeping an eye on anti-politically correct hysteria, at least until we have more secure news.

Cover image created by Outspoken beef15 starting with a screenshot of The Witcher 3