People Are Upset About The Wiz‘s All-Black Cast — We’re Not Joking

Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Lions and tigers and Twitter trolls, oh my! The Wiz Live! musical premieres on NBC tonight, and as excited as most of us are, this joyous occasion is unfortunately not immune to the idiocy that plagues social media. Some Twitter users have been calling out the program for featuring an all-Black cast. The musical boasts a massively talented ensemble of actor-singers, including Uzo Aduba, Mary J. Blige, Amber Riley, Queen Latifah, Common, Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, and Shanice Williams. The TV event is adapted from the 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz, an all-Black reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum's 1900 children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In 1978, that musical was made into a film starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. The version of the Oz most of us are familiar with, though, is the iconic 1939 screen adaptation starring Judy Garland. That film, like many others of its time, features an all-white cast; The Wiz was something of a response to that. You could say the whole point of The Wiz is indeed that it stars an all-Black cast. And yet, people seem very confused by this concept. According to some fools prowling around Twitter, this is racist. They point out that if somebody made The Wizard of Oz with an all-white cast, there would be an uproar. Um, would there be? For some reason, I feel like that's definitely not what happened with the original Wizard of Oz. Or, you know, the thousands upon thousands of movies and musicals that have starred only white people. It's kind of hard to even buy that people could be this ignorant. But also... Let's say that the original Wiz didn't star Black performers, and the makers of this new NBC version decided they wanted feature only Black actors. This would be a problem, why? We don't know. As the Scarecrow said, "Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?"

More from TV

R29 Original Series