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Nickelodeon’s Made by Maddie and Hair Love Controversy, Explained

3 min read
This has been quite a disturbing week for fans of the Oscar-winning short film Hair Love. On September 1, first-look photos from the new Nickelodeon preschool animated series Made by Maddie started making the rounds on social media. Almost immediately, people on Twitter were outraged by how closely the characters—including a pet cat—resembled those from the…
Nickelodeon’s Made by Maddie and Hair Love Controversy, Explained

This has been quite a disturbing week for fans of the Oscar-winning short film Hair Love. On September 1, first-look photos from the new Nickelodeon preschool animated series Made by Maddie started making the rounds on social media. Almost immediately, people on Twitter were outraged by how closely the characters—including a pet cat—resembled those from the beloved short film by Matthew A. Cherry, which tells the story of a Black father learning how to style his daughter’s hair. Here’s everything you need to know about the controversy. First, take a look at Hair Love, which began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, before going on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2020. In July 2020, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that HBO Max had ordered its own animated series based off of Cherry’s characters called Young LoveNow, here is a trailer for Made by Maddie, which was scheduled to premiere on September 13 on Nick Jr. Mady By Maddie followed an eight-year-old Black fashionista. In late August/early September, photos and trailers from the Nickelodeon series started making the rounds—instantly inspiring confusion and backlash. In both series, the father wears locs, the mother wears her natural curls, and the daughter dons a pink bow. Cherry also pointed out that the families even seem to have the same cat. “It’s wild. Coulda been a dog, fish, anything,” he tweeted.Cherry also confirmed he was not a part of the Made By Maddie production. Furthermore, Twitter users were disappointed to discover that Made By Maddie’s creator, Paula Rosenthal, is a white woman. “Instead of hiring Black creatives Nickelodeon has a white woman steal Hair Love as if we wouldn’t fucking notice, one user wrote. ”I appreciate the representation in the cartoon Made by Maddie but stop letting white people be in charge of Black stories please.”By September 2, Made by Maddie’s production company Silvergate Media released the following statement, denying accusations of plagiarism: “Silvergate Media has been working on the series for the last five years and throughout the production has taken steps to ensure a diverse production team and an appropriate voice cast lending their expertise and talent,” CEO Waheed Alli said, per the Los Angeles Times. “As creators ourselves, we have the utmost respect and admiration for Matthew A. Cherry and Hair Love, and our hope is that when people watch our show, they will see it is its own story with its own adventures.”The Times also reports that a Silvergate representative “emphasized” that Rosenthal worked with “multiple Black creatives, including its story editor, fashion consultant, curriculum and educational consultant and songwriting supervisor, as well as a diversity consultant.”Made by Maddie was announced at Nickelodeon’s 2018 Upfronts as Fashion Ally, but was allegedly already underway by September 2017, according to a script excerpt and a detailed description of additional characters that Silvergate provided to The Times. Silverlake also reportedly shared sketches of the characters, including the family cat, dated September, October, and November 2018. Hair Love’s Kickstarter launched in July 2017 with illustrations by Vashti Harrison. According to The Times, it was fully funded at least one month before the aforementioned material shared by Silverlake. Nickelodeon pulled Made by Maddie from its schedule on September 4.  “Made by Maddie is a show we acquired several years ago from Silvergate Media, a renowned production company we have previously worked with on other series. Since announcing the show’s premiere date this week, we have been listening closely to the commentary, criticism and concern coming from both viewers and members of the creative community,” Nickelodeon said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter. “In response, and out of respect to all voices in the conversation, we are removing the show from our schedule as we garner further insight into the creative journey of the show. We are grateful to Silvergate Media for all of their work. And we hold Matthew A. Cherry and the wonderful and inspiring Hair Love in the highest regard.”This post may be updated as new information becomes available. Read More

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