The Nightmare Before Christmas still remains one of Tim Burton and Henry Selick‘s most iconic films to date. However, screenwriter Caroline Thompson has revealed that the director and writer were once confronted over the problematic nature of one particular character.
Since Halloween has passed and Christmas is right around the corner, The Nightmare Before Christmas is likely streaming in a lot of households worldwide. However, Thompson’s latest revelations about Oogie Boogie may cause you to never look at the character the same.
Thompson recently told Insider that the villainous Nightmare Before Christmas boogeyman is actually really problematic.
“First of all, he looks like a Klu Klux Klansman,” Thompson said. “Secondly, ‘Oogie Boogie’ is an old, southern, derogatory phrase for an African-American and I’m from Maryland, which is just on the cusp of the south, so I’m hyper-aware of that and sensitive to it.”
Thompson admits that she “flipped out about” the character and even confronted Selick and Burton about it. However, Burton allegedly turned the other cheek on the matter.
“I went to Tim. I went to Henry [Selick] and I said we got to change this,” Thompson said. “Tim Burton said, ‘Oh, stop it, you’re being oversensitive.’”
Even though it’s been 27 years since the Nightmare Before Christmas made its debut, Thompson is still embarrassed about the whole ordeal.
“I’m still really embarrassed by it. It’s all kind of ergh and I thought it was incredibly insensitive,” she said.
“I think it’s a fun segment of the story as it was executed, but it’s a troubling one,” Thompson said.
Despite all of this, Selick actually defended Oogie Boogie back in 2013. During an interview with The Daily Beast, the Nightmare Before Christmas director said that he “didn’t occur to” him that hiring Page to do the character’s voice would be considered racist.
“Ken Page, the Broadway star who happens to be Black, was hired to do the voice, and after seeing some of the old Betty Boop cartoons where they’d use Cab Calloway to voice it, I just thought it was more of a New Orleans thing,” Selick said. “It didn’t occur to me that it was racist. People are desperate to look for things to attack.”
Despite the controversy surrounding Oogie Boogie, The Nightmare Before Christmas was still widely celebrated during Halloween 2020. Along with various merch and makeup launches, interactive experiences also took place as many Halloween traditions were canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
What are your reactions to Caroline Thompson’s comments on Oogie Boogie? Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.