The Witcher Writer Beau DeMayo Says Gizmodo Writer Kristen Lopez is “Missing the Point” After She Accuses the Show of Ableism

The Witcher has been hitting all the right notes since it’s premiere with viewers. The show currently has a 92% fresh audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and Netflix reports that at least 2 minutes of the show has been seen by over 76 million households.

While the show has generally been well received, Gizmodo writer Kristen Lopez took issue with the show’s portrayal of Yennefer and accused the show of ableism.

Related: Netflix Announces Witcher Anime Film: The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

However, it’s not just The Witcher that Lopez takes issue with. She takes issue with the fantasy genre in general writing:

“But in watching Netflix’s new series, The Witcher (itself based on a series of books), it’s hard not to see the heavy ableism that the likes of Martin and other fantasy writers fall into.”

She then adds, “More importantly, The Witcher is another in a long string of media that seeks to touch on disability through the lens of able-bodied criticism.”

Lopez does initially praise the depiction of Yennefer having sexual relations while physically deformed, writing, “In disability narratives involving women, physical deformity is standard which often situates these characters as non-sexual beings.”

She adds, “In this case, Yennefer does engage in a sexual relationship while she is physically disabled. She can be a sexual being who feels comfortable enough sharing that part of herself with another and be disabled, the two are not at odds.”

However, she takes issue with the casting of Yennefer because she’s “played by an able-bodied actress who is aesthetically gorgeous.”

Lopez goes on to explain why she has an issue with Yennefer being played by an able-bodied actress, “The audience inherently knows that, at best, she’s either going to transform into her beautiful self over the course of the show or, at worst, imitate a disabled person.” It’s almost as if actors are paid to act in roles where they do not play themselves.

But Yennefer being portrayed by “an able-bodied actress” is not the only thing Lopez finds fault with The Witcher. She also has issues with Yennefer’s choice to sacrifice her womb in order to gain what she viewed at the time as more power.

Related: The Witcher Star Henry Cavill Prefers Sitting at Home and Gaming for Hundreds of Hours as Opposed to Going Out

Lopez writes:

“This is a fiction trope that transcends the world of fantasy and is just a disabled trope: that, when given the option between disabled or abled, a person will always choose the former even if they’ve been disabled their whole life. Because most authors, screenwriters, or other creatives are able-bodied they are thinking of their privileged position, first and foremost. Never mind how a person, who has only ever known a disabled lifestyle, might feel.”

This completely ignores the actual character of Yennefer, her life experiences, and her choices. Yennefer was sold to a mage for less than what it costs to buy a pig. The show depicts her home life as one lacking any kind of love. Her father views her as less than a pig and her neighbors beat her up even when she tries to be nice to them.

Yennefer attempts to find love with Istredd. She believes he is someone she can put trust in and love. However, she discovers that Istredd betrays her by revealing her elven lineage. She believes this betrayal cost her a coveted advisor role to King Damvend III of Aedirn.

She then takes matters into her own hands and chooses to undergo the process to change her physical appearance by sacrificing her womb and any possibility of bearing children in the future.

Lopez would later describe this sacrifice as Yennefer being “magically cured.”

She writes, “Yennefer’s transformation is just one of several media performances wherein a disabled person is magically cured to promote the idea that normality equals physically abled.”

The issue with this is that Yennefer’s transformation comes with a cost. She loses her womb. She isn’t magically cured. She is still disfigured both physically and emotionally as seen in the show.

In fact, the second part of her arc, she is on a quest to find out how she can recover her child bearing abilities that she sacrificed. She even abandons the influence she once had in order to pursue anything she can cling to, to regain her ability to have children.

It’s clear Yennefer still views herself as physically deformed and we as the audience can also see how she has been rocked emotionally as well. She literally hypnotizes an entire town in her pursuit to reclaim her ability to bear children.

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But maybe more importantly, is that Yennefer’s impotency will play an important role in her relationship with Ciri as she views the Princess as an adopted daughter, a daughter that she cannot have physically.

Aside from Lopez completely ignoring Yennefer’s character, her criticisms also attempt to generalize all disabled people. It’s not out of the question that individuals would want to risk treatments in order to find cures for their physical disabilities. In fact, people do it all the time. It’s why there is laser eye surgery. It’s why there are viral videos of people gaining their hearing.

But Lopez would not be done. Not satisfied with attacking The Witcher, she would also attack Shazam!, Detective Pikachu, and Spies in Disguise.

She writes, “Yennefer’s transformation is just one of several media performances wherein a disabled person is magically cured to promote the idea that normality equals physically abled.”

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She bemoans Shazam! because “physically disabled character Freddie Freeman (played by able-bodied actor Jack Dylan Grazer) is gifted superpowers that let him reach his “full potential.””

The problem with this according to Lopez, “The movie presents this as the ultimate get, that he can be disabled by day and “perfect” by night, ignoring how a disabled person would feel about having to transform into a body that is physically perfect only to return to their standard one the next. Regardless, Shazam says that to be a superhero, one must be physically perfect.”

As for Detective Pikachu and Spies in Disguise, she takes issue with the villains’ portrayal.

“Similarly, other films like Detective Pikachu and the upcoming Spies in Disguise position villains, who have become disabled later in life, railing against society.”

As for Lopez’s criticisms, The Witcher writer Beau DeMayo simply responded, “Missing the point.”

For those who watched the show, what do you think? Did the writers of The Witcher develop good motivations and character developments? Did the show do a good job at translating the story from novel to television? Do you think Lopez has a point?


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