In the autumn of 2012 the fictional character “Lilla Hjärtat” created by the Swedish author
and illustrator Stina Wirsén, became a much-discussed topic in Swedish media. This
following the premiere of the children’s film “Liten Skär och alla små brokiga”.
Stina Wirsén is an established and well-acclaimed name in children’s literature. “Lilla
Hjärtat”, a jet-black doll, had become one of many popular characters in her books. However,
two years later at the time of the film release, social media picked up on the idea that “Lilla
Hjärtat” resembled a racist stereotype, a so-called picaninny or a blackface.
According to Wirsén, her intention was to deflate an outdated stereotype and refill it with a
new and positive meaning. The purpose was to offer children of all skin colours and all
backgrounds an empowering role model to identify with. Those who were opposed argued
that using a racist stereotype in a children’s book or film was inappropriate and harmful. On
the other hand, those in favour did not view the character as racist and believed it would
contribute to openness and diversity.
The purpose of the thesis is to make an analysis of the debate and the arguments that were
presented. As a result I could find two discourses, one that argued against “Lilla Hjärtat”, and
one that argued that “Lilla Hjärtat” was a positive character. In the discourse against Lilla
Hjärtat, debaters maintained that small children were unable to distinguish between the
different meanings of stereotypical pictures, and also that a privileged white person does not
have the interpretative prerogative to change a stereotypical image that has been
discriminating black people for generations. In the other discourse, debaters meant that the
character could be an important and strong role model for young dark-skinned children. They
also discussed that the real problem was that there were so few characters of children of other nationalities in children’s literature.
2015. , 32 p.
Lilla Hjärtat, debatt, stereotyp, barnlitteratur, barnboksfigur, blackface, mångfald