I got this flyer in the mail from the Paper Mill Playhouse advertising children's shows in December (not sure why C.S. News' "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" is considered a Christmas play, but whatever). What struck me was the bold casting of an African American actor as Frosty the Snowman.
An unorthodox and progressive move, to be sure. You would think a snowman would be white, right? And I do applaud casting a minority actor beyond the typical roles that they get. But this clear demonstration of inclusiveness and seeing beyond color – especially in this political environment – somehow doesn't sit well with me in this case. Maybe considering the Paper Mill is located in the fairly wealthy, white township of Millburn, NJ? Who knows.
Here now are some red flags that the producers of the show might have seen but plowed past anyway:
• Racists in the audience might cheer when Frosty melts
• The whole "magical negro" thing
• Frosty is in possession of a stolen hat
• Helping a black man travel north on a railroad
• The possible message that a black man needs the help of white children to survive
• Creating the fiction that a black man can roam around New York City without being hassled
• Snow purists might be offended he's performing in "white face"
• Mike Pence might show up
• Children might make their own snowman afterward and be disappointed theirs doesn't resemble Kevin Hart
• It might inspire African American boys to stop applying to colleges to become snowmen instead
• The bumpity-bump-bump remix featuring Rihanna was unnecessary