The scene from Psycho where Janet Leigh is murdered in the shower by a wig-sporting Norman Bates may be one of cinema’s all time greatest moments. But showrunners of Bates Motel, the cable television Psycho remake, say they had to alter the scene so as not to offend transgender individuals.
In an interview with Indiewire, Kerry Ehrin, who guides Bates Motel, said that while the shower scene was perfectly iconic, portraying Norman Bates as a psychotic, cross-dressing serial killer was simply too offensive for today’s woke audiences.
In the original, a destitute (and recently criminal) Marion Crane checks into the eponymous Bates Hotel with her boyfriend, Sam, befriends Norman, who then stabs her to death dressed as his deceased mother (whose body he keeps in his residence).
Understandably, the show-runners didn’t want to simply replicate the scene, but rather pay homage to Hitchcock’s groundbreaking camera work, while putting their own spin on the quintessential Norman Bates storyline.
But their rationale wasn’t simply to exert their creative voice—it was to ensure that their now-woke audiences didn’t get offended by Norman Bates himself. In the original, Norman Bates is a psychotic cross-dresser, but the showrunners say its insulting to believe all cross-dressers (and by extension, transgender individuals), are murderous criminals.
“We wanted to be very careful about it,” Ehrin said. “In none of our minds is that what the story is about. It’s about a kid who very specifically thinks he’s his mother, as opposed to anything else. It really became about protecting that and not letting it slip or slide into anything transphobic.”
Of course, Psycho is nearly always listed as one of the greatest films of all time. Hitchcock, who regularly pushed cultural boundaries intended Bates’s character to be viewed as truly deranged, not because he wore a wig, but because he literally took on the persona of his decaying corpse of a parent.
The showrunners point out that, by this point in their narrative, Norman is killing without the wig—a sure sign that he himself is aware that his actions could reflect badly on the progressive community.
Bates Motel has only four episodes left, so at least he (and they) won’t have to be so careful for very long.