“You can crush my candy cane but you’ll never catch me cry.”
“The Voice” alum Melanie Martinez released her debut album, “Cry Baby,” last summer, and a year later, it’s still going strong. Martinez has just dropped “Alphabet Boy,” a music video that carries on the 21-year-old’s teddy-bear-in-one-hand-and-knife-in-the-other aesthetic. The syrupy song features Martinez clapping back at someone whose condescension has clearly gotten them on Martinez’s bad side. Although Martinez does plenty of “kid’s stuff” in the video — playing with building blocks and eating cereal — we’re guessing you might be freaked out by the part where she licks a huge knife.
While many a faceless person on the internet was outraged by the fact that a black woman was portraying one of literature’s most beloved characters, author J.K. Rowling shut down the haters immediately:
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione ? https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH
This brings up an interesting thought: How many of our favorite literary characters could actually be people of color, and more specifically, Latino? Without Hollywood’s habit of whitewashing, could there be more opportunity for beloved book characters to shine as Latinos on the big screen?
Here are eight book characters who could totally be Latino (hint hint, Hollywood):
Everyone’s favorite dystopian YA character is described as being slender with “black hair, grey eyes and olive skin.” Seriously — olive skin and black hair? Sounds like quite a few Latinas I’ve known! What’s a little upsetting is that the casting call for Everdeen asked specifically for a Caucasian actress (who is “underfed but strong”), despite the fact that an olive complexion and dark hair could open the door to many ethnicities. But, hey, it’s Hollywood after all.
2. Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars
Credit: 20th Century Fox
If just reading the name of the protagonist from John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars”made you cry, hang in there. The only physical descriptions of Hazel Grace are that she has brown hair and green eyes. Who’s to say this character couldn’t be portrayed by a Latina? No hate to Shailene Woodley, who is a true queen; we’re just dreaming here!
3. Bella Swan, Twilight
Credit: Summit Entertainment
Bella is described as having brown hair, brown eyes and pale skin, which totally leaves the door open for Bella being Latina. Also, it’d give her name that much more impact! It might feel like a stretch, but look at this way: So much of mainstream pop culture automatically assumes the default human is a white gringo. (Spoiler alert: There’s some pale Latinos out there, too!)
4. Jonas, The Giver
Credit: The Weinstein Company
OK, let’s put aside the fact that in the film adaption of “The Giver,” they tried to make Jonas into some sort of One Direction understudy heartthrob even though he’s literally an 11-year-old boy, people! Regardless, he’s really only described as having brown hair. You know who else has brown hair? LOTS OF LATINOS. I mean, if you’re asking me, it’s pretty obvious Lois Lowry wrote her protagonist as a young, Latino boy, yeah?
5. Elisa, The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Credit: Green Willow Books
Elisa (full name: Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza) is the main character in Rae Carson’s series, “The Girl of Fire and Thorns.”Despite what the cover art might lead you to believe, Elisa is described as “overweight” and “brown-skinned.” So what’s a skinny white girl doing on the cover? Who can really say, beyond causing all of us thick Latinas to roll our eyes, I guess. No movie has been made of this series yet, so if it ever does head to the big screen, here’s hoping for casting that stays true to the source.
6. Elliot North, For Darkness Shows the Stars
Credit: Balzer + Bray
Ahhh yes, another book where the cover depicts the protagonist as a willowy, nearly translucent woman when in fact she’s described as having dark skin, almond-shaped eyes and dark hair. This is another book that has yet to see a film adaption, so this is another chance for casting to get it right.
7. Sam, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Credit: Summit Entertainment
Listen, I’m all about the casting of Emma Watson in anything. But Sam is a character that could’ve easily been a number of different races and backgrounds. Charlie describes her as beautiful and dark-haired, with green eyes. There’s not much else to speculate on, and yet it’s one of those things where she could’ve just as easily been a Latina. The point is: WHY NOT?!
8. Johanna Mason, The Hunger Games
Only Johanna’s hair color and physical strength are described in the books. Noticing a trend here? There’s so much room for diversity in books, and the ones that are made into movies could easily include people of color. All of the characters here just happened to have dark hair, but who’s to say that if a character has, say, blonde hair she automatically has to be white? We Latinos come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Hollywood might still be stuck in the ’50s in a number of ways, but here’s hoping for a more open mindset.