Swarm criticised for "mocking" Halsey with viral Paris Jackson scene

17 March 2023, 17:13

Billie Eilish makes her acting debut in Swarm

Sam  Prance

By Sam Prance

Swarm appears to make fun of Halsey's ethnicity with Paris Jackson's character in episode 2.

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Halsey fans are criticising Swarm for "mocking" the star with a Paris Jackson scene that's now going viral on social media.

Today (Mar 17), Donald Glover and Janine Nabers' highly anticipated new series Swarm debuted on Amazon Prime. Starring the likes of Chloë Bailey, Paris Jackson and Billie Eilish, Swarm tells the story of a woman named Dre (Dominique Fishback) whose obsession with a fictional pop star leads to very dark consequences. The TV show is inspired by real-life events.

Swarm has been met with critical acclaim but the show is now sparking criticism with a scene that references Halsey.

READ MORE: Is Swarm based on a true story? The real life Beyoncé rumour that inspired the series

Swarm criticised for "mocking" Halsey with viral Paris Jackson scene
Swarm criticised for "mocking" Halsey with viral Paris Jackson scene. Picture: Steve Granitz/FilmMagic, Prime Video

In episode 2 of Swarm, Dre starts working as an exotic dancer. The other dancers at the club criticise Dre for not being good enough. They say that Dre needs to improve but one girl named Hailey (Paris Jackson) says that she likes how Dre dances. Hailey and Dre later go for breakfast together and Hailey claims that she gets Dre.

Hailey says: "Okay not to be weird but I feel really connected to you. Like I understand what it feels like to not be accepted, to live out of a suitcase and not have any friends. I mean, I ran away from my last relationship because he couldn't accept me being Black."

A confused Dre, responds: "You're Black?" Hailey then replies: "Yeah. My dad's half. That's why my stage name's Halsey. You do know who Halsey, is right? Have you been living under a rock? She's like the best singer out."

The scene has since gone viral on social media with many people wondering why Halsey has been singled out. A fan tweeted: "Halsey catching a stray from Paris Jackson via Donald glover & Janine Nabers is crazy".

Another fan slammed the TV show for mocking Halsey. They wrote: "And Halsey has never claimed to be black so where do we go from her? trying to mock or attack a mother who has done nothing bad just cause the writers of this show were bored and tried to drag a woman out of nowhere..."

Is Halsey Black? What does Halsey's name mean?

Like Paris Jackson, Halsey is mixed race in real life. Both stars have white mothers and Black fathers. However, unlike Paris' character Hailey in Swarm, Halsey identifies as biracial. Not only that but Halsey's name isn't based off of her race as Swarm suggests. Halsey came up with Halsey as a stage name because it's an anagram of her real name Ashley.

Discussing her ethnicity and being white-passing with Allure, Halsey said: "A lot of people try to write off a lot of my experiences because I present white."

They then explained: "No matter how many tears I’ve shed because I’m not connecting with my family or my culture in a way that I would like too, or because the waitress thinks I’m the babysitter when I go out with my family, none of that would compare to the tears that I would shed for presenting phenotypically Black and the disadvantages and the violence that I would face because of that."

It's currently unclear if the writers behind Swarm intended to make fun of Halsey. As it stands, neither the team behind Swarm nor Halsey have commented on the scene. We shall update you if they do.

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