Students Who Protested High School Hunchback of Notre Dame Casting Targeted by Neo-Nazi Trolls

Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame / Image via Youtube
Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame / Image via Youtube

When Ithaca High School announced they were putting on a production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, many students believed the role of Esmeralda, a Roma woman, would go to a student of color. Instead a white student was cast, students objected, and the play was pulled. And now those same student activists are being targeted by neo-Nazis.


The high school pulled the play after five students formed a group called “Students United Ithaca,” wrote letters to the school demanding a more diverse cast. and staged a protest at a community school board meeting. But the small success of the students’ completely valid activism was derailed when Breitbart picked up on the news,b where it traveled to Fox News, The Washington Times, and the hellhole that is 4chan. Breitbart has previously covered whitewashing controversies in film and 4chan also has a field day with stories like this, who see activists as social justice warriors.

The New York Times reports that students were targeted with hate speech, lynching threats, and private messages like “You are the real Nazis of this country.” The school district had received “100 angry emails and 50 voicemails” over the casting controversy and students received pictures of themselves covered in swastikas. All because a handful of kids spoke out against the casting of their high school play.

“This is very, very surreal,” Maddi Carroll, one of the Students United, told the NYT. “It’s a lot to handle as a 17-year-old who is in high school right now, applying to college, trying to get ready for that stuff.”


Curious Squid

I feel embarrassed about even knowing this as it’s such a random dorky thing to know, but in the original Victor Hugo book Esmeralda is at least half white French (her mum is white with blonde hair and blue eyes and Esmeralda’s name is actually Agnes) and the Gypsies abducted her when she was a baby and her mum became an insane hermit but the Gypsies raise her lovingly and kept one of her baby booties telling her that if she can ever find a woman with the other baby bootie she’ll have found her true family. (Why did Gypsies abduct her in the first place? Because racist narrative tropes about Gypsies.) In case you’re wondering, in the book Esmeralda does get reunited with her insane hermit mother, but is executed the next day because it’s a Victor Hugo novel so most of the characters have to die.

But in the Disney iteration and the musical adaptation she’s definitely a WOC and yeah should be played by a WOC.