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Old 06-12-2019, 09:53 PM
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Switching the Race of Characters


First off, I know anything involving race is touchy, so to start with I just want everybody to try to stay chill. So here we go.

As much as I hate the racist trolls who lose there minds when something like a black Spiderman comes out, I am similarly annoyed when people on the other side of the coin panic about "white-washing". So, in this thread I want to examine which characters can be racially switched while it still makes sense to the story line, and which ones can't.

I'm going to start with those that can't. First, pretty much any historical figure because, well, come on. That one's easy. It gets more complicated in fiction. There are some that just HAVE to be played by a specific race due to their iconic nature. I can't imagine Thor played by anybody else than a big blond white guy and I can't imagine Black Panther played by anybody else but an athletic black guy. But how far does "iconic" go?

Superman, I would argue, is iconic enough that he needs to be played by a white guy with dark hair (preferably with the little "s" curl on his forehead). James Bond is iconic, but it's a bit different because his iconic nature is more just Britishness. Idris Elba would make a phenomenal James Bond, but as bad ass as he is, I can't see him as Superman. Batman, though....?

Idris Elba is a good example for what I want to get into, because while on the surface it would seem like he's a great choice to play The Gunslinger, it get's a bit problematic when you start thinking about Susana in "The Drawing of the Three". She absolutely HAS to be black, no question there, and I would argue that Eddie has to be white and the gunslinger does too just for the storyline.

Now, to touch on whitewashing, the accusations of that can annoy me. Take Charlize Theron as The Major in "Ghost in the Shell". Why did anybody care? The characther herslelf inhabits an artificial body. What difference does race make in something like that? And as far as Japanese culture is going to be damaged by "white washing", I'm going to have to laugh at that a bit. I seriously doubt anybody in Japan was bothered by it.

Anyway, um... discuss?
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Last edited by armedmonkey; 06-12-2019 at 09:57 PM. Reason: grammar an punctuation
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:19 PM
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I think Idris Elba would be fine for James Bond. If James Bond is meant to be a single person, then he'd be about 90 years old now, so the film series has already jumped the shark in that sense. If one thinks of "James Bond" as a service name assigned to various British secret agents over the years, then there's no reason it couldn't be a black man in 2019. I guess the next question would be: could there be a woman called "James"?
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:21 PM
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Well, in MY production I don't HAVE to do anything except fulfill my artistic vision. If a Korean woman is cast as Othello, then that's who will be appearing on stage. Note that you don't have to be a drunk to play an alcoholic, let's say.

ETA I would never mess with any of the Bard's lines, though. That's not cool.

Last edited by DPRK; 06-12-2019 at 10:23 PM.
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:40 PM
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Well, in MY production I don't HAVE to do anything except fulfill my artistic vision. If a Korean woman is cast as Othello, then that's who will be appearing on stage. Note that you don't have to be a drunk to play an alcoholic, let's say.

ETA I would never mess with any of the Bard's lines., though. That's not cool.
Ah, but you're missing my point regarding Susana. Race may not matter, but sometimes it does. Othello is ALL about race. That's the whole plot!
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:14 AM
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Race may not matter, but sometimes it does. Othello is ALL about race. That's the whole plot!
It could be an interesting reading to reverse it, by setting it in one of the mediaeval African kingdoms with Othello played as a white mercenary, or one of the Europeans who rose to significant postiions after being taken into slavery in one of the North African kingdoms.

It's not uncommon to do race/gender-reversed productions of Shakespeare, these days.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:25 PM
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It could be an interesting reading to reverse it, by setting it in one of the mediaeval African kingdoms with Othello played as a white mercenary, or one of the Europeans who rose to significant postiions after being taken into slavery in one of the North African kingdoms.

It's not uncommon to do race/gender-reversed productions of Shakespeare, these days.
I had an idea once to race-switch Storm from the X-Men (sorta). The gist is that the African Goddess she's always invoking is more responsible for her powers than we knew. Said Goddess is pissed that Storm has become a world-adventurer rather than concentrating on her people. So the Goddess gives the powers to the person at the time who just happens to be trying the hardest to help the Goddess's people.

And at said time, its a tireless, penniless white male Christian missionary.

That story-line alone would keep Slate, Salon, Buzzfeed, HuffPo et al in business for years to come.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:21 AM
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It could be an interesting reading to reverse it, by setting it in one of the mediaeval African kingdoms with Othello played as a white mercenary, or one of the Europeans who rose to significant postiions after being taken into slavery in one of the North African kingdoms.

It's not uncommon to do race/gender-reversed productions of Shakespeare, these days.
It has been done- quite famously, as well. Patrick Stewart played Othello in 1997, as a white man.

https://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/21/m...ery-color.html
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:52 PM
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The race of the characters can certainly be important to the plot. The actor isn’t actually the character.
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Old 06-13-2019, 12:39 AM
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The race of the characters can certainly be important to the plot. The actor isnít actually the character.
But audience perception matters, no?

I am not talking about the ability of an actor. Let me make that VERY clear. I am talking about casting. A brilliant actor can/t play every role in existence. I want to talk about the roles, not the actors.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:24 AM
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The race of the characters can certainly be important to the plot. The actor isnít actually the character.
Context matters.

As mentioned already, you can cast our founding fathers as minorities (Hamilton) and not skip a beat. I'd say you could cast a black Superman, or James Bond, play it dead straight and it would work just fine.

However, if you're doing a serious Civil War drama, and cast black actors a slaves, white actors as slave owners and politicians and a historically accurate mix of other actors, you can't just throw in Denzel as Robert E. Lee and let it go at that. You can't really play that change straight and have it work, the casting pulls you out of the narrative.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:49 AM
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Look, I know all white people look alike, but ... that was Scarlett Johansson.

By all accounts, the people behind the original were cool with it, as were most Japanese people. Stoked, even.
In Japan they were aware that, uneasy as it may be to recognize it, no major distributor would lay out the big, big bucks for a live action GITS without some international headliner in the lead, to reach worldwide audiences beyond already existing fandom since most of humanity has no knowledge of the original. (Shirow of course doesn't mind at all as long as the check is large and it clears, allowing him to keep doing his bizarre new stuff).

It doesn't help, though, that in the comic/animation everyone in Section 9 is Japanese in name and culture, and that it is an established understanding that in Manga/Anime, characters intended to be Japanese are drawn the same generic-cartoon style anyway. So "westernizing" it did shake up many.


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Those "Black Boba Fett" rumors that we're going around a few years ago actually made me angry due to how people were acting as if this was the greatest decision of all time on the rumor boards. We already had a great Maori actor play him, why did Disney suddenly muse changing his canonical race for absolutely no reason? Just either get Temuera Morrison to play him again or another Maori actor if you wanted somebody younger.
That is clearly an American-Market-centric calculation. Not for the sake of representing a minority, but for a big sale with the African-American audiences.


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Context matters.

As mentioned already, you can cast our founding fathers as minorities (Hamilton) and not skip a beat. I'd say you could cast a black Superman, or James Bond, play it dead straight and it would work just fine.

However, if you're doing a serious Civil War drama, and cast black actors a slaves, white actors as slave owners and politicians and a historically accurate mix of other actors, you can't just throw in Denzel as Robert E. Lee and let it go at that. You can't really play that change straight and have it work, the casting pulls you out of the narrative.
Very well put. With historic narratives, you are either playing it dead straight to "the facts, ma'am" or doing an artistic-license symbolic thing, mixing them will just be confusing. With pure fiction, you may have far more flexibility. (Of course, you still should try to be consistent in-universe: a black Bond works better in 2020 than 1960 because Britain itself is more multiracial today.)

Last edited by JRDelirious; 06-13-2019 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:48 AM
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With historic narratives, you are either playing it dead straight to "the facts, ma'am" or doing an artistic-license symbolic thing, mixing them will just be confusing. With pure fiction, you may have far more flexibility. (Of course, you still should try to be consistent in-universe: a black Bond works better in 2020 than 1960 because Britain itself is more multiracial today.)
I don't know about that. Casting Denzel Washington as Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing was a brilliant move. His race was completely ignored and he just played the role straight.

More recently - very recently - in Good Omens we have the lead girl, Pepper, being played by a black girl, Amma Ris and it fit in just fine. In the original book, she's a fiery, freckle-faced tomboy who's clearly meant to be traditional small village English.
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:08 AM
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I can't imagine Thor played by anybody else than a big blond white guy
Thankfully, Marvel doesn't have your limited imagination.

Hell, Thor's been a frog...

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Take Charlize Theron as The Major in "Ghost in the Shell".
Look, I know all white people look alike, but ... that was Scarlett Johansson.

By all accounts, the people behind the original were cool with it, as were most Japanese people. Stoked, even.

Last edited by MrDibble; 06-13-2019 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:44 AM
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Thankfully, Marvel doesn't have your limited imagination.

Hell, Thor's been a frog...

Look, I know all white people look alike, but ... that was Scarlett Johansson.

By all accounts, the people behind the original were cool with it, as were most Japanese people. Stoked, even.
I believe you are WILLFULLY missing the point here.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:16 AM
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I believe you are WILLFULLY missing the point here.
So your point wasn't that you can only imagine a big, blonde White male Thor?

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Old 06-13-2019, 10:10 AM
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Thankfully, Marvel doesn't have your limited imagination.

Hell, Thor's been a frog...

.
And let's not forget Garrett Morris' epic turn as the God of Thunder...
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Old 06-18-2019, 02:58 PM
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Look, I know all white people look alike, but ... that was Scarlett Johanssen.


But...but the Major has PURPLE hair. Scarlett is a BLONDE...



So is Charlize, of course. I knew that.
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Old 06-18-2019, 04:13 PM
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Here's my thing: comic book fans want to see their comics brought to life. When the characters on screen don't look like the characters on the page, that's a fail in the eyes of the fanboys (and -girls). Their ire isn't necessarily motivated by racism so much as a desire for (what they consider) "accuracy."

Example: the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch in the latest "Fantastic Four" abortion. The entire POINT of the Fantastic Four is that they're a family. Making Johnny Storm black was blatant tokenism that added needless layers of complication to ALL of their backstories, relationships, and dynamics.

At the risk of being called racist, I looked askance when Valkyrie (and to a lesser extent, Heimdall) was cast with a black actor. These are characters lifted directly from Norse mythology. Nothing gets any whiter than that. Despite what others have suggested upthread, I seriously doubt the ancient Norse were picturing their gods as black. More blatant pandering, tokenism, and "inclusion" for the sake of it.

I totally, TOTALLY get black people's desire to be more represented and included. As a gay man, I am thrilled and proud that Batwoman - the first lesbian superhero to headline in her own comic - is now getting her own TV show. Not so many years ago, that would have been unthinkable. But are black people really happy with film producers figuratively patting them on the head by arbitrarily making white characters black and then saying "There ya go, you're included"?

Furthermore, can this "any character can be any race" philosophy be applied universally? Can you imagine the backlash if the Falcon were played by a white actor? Although the comics character has been black since the 1960s, there's nothing inherently "black" about him. Military guy with mechanical wings. Why can't he be white? Yet somehow, I don't think that would have gone over very well.

Remember the backlash a few years ago when the "Gods of Egypt" were cast with white actors? There's always an outcry about "whitewashing" characters of color. Yet it seems these same SJW's (mostly white, unless I miss my guess) are hunky dory with making white characters black.

monstro - I always enjoy your posts, I respect you to the moon and back, and I consider you almost synonymous with the SDMB. I sincerely welcome any critique you might have (not that I think all black people think the same way).
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Old 06-18-2019, 07:12 PM
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At the risk of being called racist, I looked askance when Valkyrie (and to a lesser extent, Heimdall) was cast with a black actor. These are characters lifted directly from Norse mythology.
Um... "to lesser extent, Heimdall"? Seriously?

In the original sagas Heimdall was described as the whitest/fairest of the gods. Which, again, sort of illustrates that a lot of people who think they know the source material on some things don't actually really know the source material. Which, not being a fanboy, I'm personally OK with. On the other hand, the Valkyries aren't much described as individuals and could easily be presumed various in appearance. I enjoy the Norse myths for its own thing, and the Marvel mythos in the comic books as its own thing, and the Marvel movie mythos as its own thing. Yes, they're all clearly related but they are also all not quite the same thing. Somehow or other I became comfortable with different "takes" on the same legends/notions/stories/whatever. For that matter, I'm also OK with both the Patrick Stewart and the James MacAvoy versions of Professor Xavier in the X-men franchise. I enjoyed both the Dirk Benedict and Katee Sackhoff versions of Starbuck.

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Nothing gets any whiter than that. Despite what others have suggested upthread, I seriously doubt the ancient Norse were picturing their gods as black. More blatant pandering, tokenism, and "inclusion" for the sake of it.
Screw it - I have really enjoyed Marvel's non-traditional, inclusive casting in both the movies and the TV versions of their stories even if I am a white lady. I also thoroughly enjoyed Black Panther with its predominantly black cast. If you don't - well, your loss from my viewpoint. At the end of the day (or the movie, or the book, or the TV show...) what I care most about it whether or not it was a good story well told. The rest is details and props.

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But are black people really happy with film producers figuratively patting them on the head by arbitrarily making white characters black and then saying "There ya go, you're included"?
I'm going to risk going out on a limb here (and invited any black people to correct me if I'm in error), but
- yes, I'm sure they'd rather have a token black character or two than none at all, and
- if the characters race doesn't matter to the story line then who cares? Why shouldn't all actors be able to read for and have a chance at the part?

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Originally Posted by Licentious Ectomorph View Post
Furthermore, can this "any character can be any race" philosophy be applied universally? Can you imagine the backlash if the Falcon were played by a white actor? Although the comics character has been black since the 1960s, there's nothing inherently "black" about him. Military guy with mechanical wings. Why can't he be white? Yet somehow, I don't think that would have gone over very well.
Unless, maybe, it was a white Falcon with a black Captain America...?

If black people defend Falcon-as-a-black-man then it might have something to do with the fact that for decades there were so few opportunities for black actors that they feel they have to hang onto every black role they can.

Look at the characters in Star Trek - I imagine there'd be a tremendous outcry if you cast Lt. Uhura as anything BUT a black human woman. Ditto Sulu as anything but Asian. With the latest reboot they cast an actual Scottsman as Scotty (both people who have played Chekhov were Russian/Russian descent). The only one who changed ethnicity was Spock - Leonard Nimoy was Ukrainian Jewish and Zachary Quinto is Irish/Italian. Well, maybe Captain Kirk - William Shatner is originally from Canada and Chris Pine from the US, although both are of Eastern European Jewish descent (Shatner Austria-Hungary, Ukraine, and Lithuania and Pine at least half Russian). Is that really necessary? Well, back in the 1960's in the Original Series it certainly was very important to have a diverse cast, Roddenberry wanted to make a point that in the distant future a lot of stuff we were hung about about would be unimportant. Is it critically important now?... anyone want to tackle that question?
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Old 06-18-2019, 07:45 PM
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Um... "to lesser extent, Heimdall"? Seriously?



Screw it - I have really enjoyed Marvel's non-traditional, inclusive casting in both the movies and the TV versions of their stories even if I am a white lady. I also thoroughly enjoyed Black Panther with its predominantly black cast. If you don't - well, your loss from my viewpoint. At the end of the day (or the movie, or the book, or the TV show...) what I care most about it whether or not it was a good story well told. The rest is details and props.


I'm going to risk going out on a limb here (and invited any black people to correct me if I'm in error), but
- yes, I'm sure they'd rather have a token black character or two than none at all, and
- if the characters race doesn't matter to the story line then who cares? Why shouldn't all actors be able to read for and have a chance at the part?

Well....I haven't seen any out and out tokenism in the MCU yet.

Here's MY IMHO definition of tokenism. And I'm sure everyone will disagree.

One role
You gotta jump through hoops to get there
And it ends up not working

OR the director flat out admits to refusing to do an all-white period piece and throws out a couple of roles for 'inclusivity", (Im looking at you Mary Queen of Scots)

So is Heimdell token? NO!! He's not even Asgardian, and Idris Elba is great.
Is Valkyrie? No...theres no hoop-jumping and Tessa is a delight.
Various Spider-man roles? NOPE...it works because the focus is their age, its a lot more than one role, and who cares anyway??

Baron Mordo??? Who frigging cares!!!

I will tell you this, if Kaluu ends of being played by a non-Asian and the usual suspects lose their shit over it....Im out. Fucking Kaluu??? You get your knickers out of shape over Kaluu??

Human Torch? (I know...not MCU) Ennnnnnhhhhh...I haven't seen it. But it seems closer than the others.
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:30 PM
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Um... "to lesser extent, Heimdall"? Seriously?
Well, in the films, Heimdall wasn't a main character or an action hero per se, and didn't get nearly as much screen time as Valkyrie. Basically he was a prop. In the comics, Valkyrie was a full-fledged and longstanding member of the Avengers, complete with long blonde braids. It makes no damn sense for her to be black.

Quote:
I'm going to risk going out on a limb here (and invited any black people to correct me if I'm in error), but
- yes, I'm sure they'd rather have a token black character or two than none at all, and
- if the characters race doesn't matter to the story line then who cares? Why shouldn't all actors be able to read for and have a chance at the part?


Unless, maybe, it was a white Falcon with a black Captain America...?

If black people defend Falcon-as-a-black-man then it might have something to do with the fact that for decades there were so few opportunities for black actors that they feel they have to hang onto every black role they can.
When "Will & Grace" first came out umpteen years ago, I remember certain factions decrying that a straight actor got a role that "should" have gone to a gay actor. All I did was roll my eyes and think, Right, 'cause it's so hard for gay people to get jobs in show business. To reiterate, I'm gay, and that wasn't something I felt the need to get butthurt about. The right actor for a job is the right actor for the job. But that doesn't mean ANY actor is right for ANY job.
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Old 06-18-2019, 09:28 PM
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With the latest reboot they cast an actual Scottsman as Scotty
Simon Pegg is English, not Scottish. And he has joked that heís carrying on the tradition of playing Scotty with a terrible Scottish accent.

But I donít think that Scots have any particular complaint about being systematically excluded from the American entertainment industry. The same with Russians, Italians, Irish, etc.
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:56 PM
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Here's my thing: comic book fans want to see their comics brought to life. When the characters on screen don't look like the characters on the page, that's a fail in the eyes of the fanboys (and -girls). Their ire isn't necessarily motivated by racism so much as a desire for (what they consider) "accuracy."

Example: the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch in the latest "Fantastic Four" abortion. The entire POINT of the Fantastic Four is that they're a family. Making Johnny Storm black was blatant tokenism that added needless layers of complication to ALL of their backstories, relationships, and dynamics.

At the risk of being called racist, I looked askance when Valkyrie (and to a lesser extent, Heimdall) was cast with a black actor. These are characters lifted directly from Norse mythology. Nothing gets any whiter than that. Despite what others have suggested upthread, I seriously doubt the ancient Norse were picturing their gods as black. More blatant pandering, tokenism, and "inclusion" for the sake of it.

I totally, TOTALLY get black people's desire to be more represented and included. As a gay man, I am thrilled and proud that Batwoman - the first lesbian superhero to headline in her own comic - is now getting her own TV show. Not so many years ago, that would have been unthinkable. But are black people really happy with film producers figuratively patting them on the head by arbitrarily making white characters black and then saying "There ya go, you're included"?

Furthermore, can this "any character can be any race" philosophy be applied universally? Can you imagine the backlash if the Falcon were played by a white actor? Although the comics character has been black since the 1960s, there's nothing inherently "black" about him. Military guy with mechanical wings. Why can't he be white? Yet somehow, I don't think that would have gone over very well.

Remember the backlash a few years ago when the "Gods of Egypt" were cast with white actors? There's always an outcry about "whitewashing" characters of color. Yet it seems these same SJW's (mostly white, unless I miss my guess) are hunky dory with making white characters black.

monstro - I always enjoy your posts, I respect you to the moon and back, and I consider you almost synonymous with the SDMB. I sincerely welcome any critique you might have (not that I think all black people think the same way).
First off, thanks for the compliment.

Secondly, I disagree with almost everything you've said. Especially the last. No, the backlash against "Gods of Egypt" is not just a "SJW thing". It's an "anyone who cares about representation in mass media" thing. Why shouldn't a movie set in Egypt star people with some goddamn melanin in their skin? Practically every phenotype is represented in that part of the world, so how does it make sense to cast only the whitest white folks for the leading roles?

And you're comparing apples to oranges here. Of course the outrage over black-washing is rooted in a different angst than the outrage over white-washing! The latter comes from fatigue and anger over the fact that non-whites already are hugely disadvantaged when it comes to getting good roles. Additionally, non-whites have had a long history of watching white people be portrayed as heroes and icons. White folks don't have a similar history. If they don't want to watch a black Superman movie, they can just watch the million other superhero movies featuring white actors and have their self-esteem affirmed. Non-whites don't have that luxury. So of course when there's a movie part that could easily be done a non-white person but it goes to a white one for no good reason, there's understandable fatigue there.

I've long dreamed for someone to put Octavia Butler's "Lilith's Brood" trilogy on the big screen. I would LOVE if someone were to do this. I would be extremely upset if someone decided to choose a white actress to play Lilith. Sure, while Lilith is a black woman in the books, her blackness is not hugely integral to the plot. Indeed, on the cover of my paperback copy of "Dawn", Lilith is portrayed as a white woman (I guess the publisher felt that seeing a black woman on the cover would turn away readers). But I still want Lilith to be a black woman on the big screen. Not because I'm a SJW or whatever disparaging thing you may think, but because there are very few science fiction movies out with a black female protagonist. And of course I'd love to see that, because I'm black female who loves science fiction, who has spent a lifetime watching white (guys mostly) get to do wild and crazy shit in outer space with weird-looking aliens. I'd love to see someone who looks kinda-sorta like me having those kind of adventures for a change.

I do not see that as equivalent to a white guy that wants Superman to always be white, sorry.
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Old 06-20-2019, 12:44 PM
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there are very few science fiction movies out with a black female protagonist. And of course I'd love to see that, because I'm black female who loves science fiction, who has spent a lifetime watching white (guys mostly) get to do wild and crazy shit in outer space with weird-looking aliens. I'd love to see someone who looks kinda-sorta like me having those kind of adventures for a change.
I'm holding out for the rumoured Broken Earth series, personally...
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:35 AM
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I always found it bizarre when they change the race of a character who was already a minority actor to begin with and apparently people are okay with it.

Those "Black Boba Fett" rumors that we're going around a few years ago actually made me angry due to how people were acting as if this was the greatest decision of all time on the rumor boards. We already had a great Maori actor play him, why did Disney suddenly muse changing his canonical race for absolutely no reason? Just either get Temuera Morrison to play him again or another Maori actor if you wanted somebody younger.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:50 AM
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Historical figures have to be the correct race?

Tell that to Lin-Manuel Miranda.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:23 PM
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:51 AM
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I thought Michael Clarke Duncan was a great choice to play Kingpin (since Kingpin's main physical attribute is bigness)

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Old 06-13-2019, 06:14 AM
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A fairly famous switch a few years ago was the choice to have the adult version of Harry Potter’s Hermione Grainger played by a black woman in the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/20...black-hermione

I think the success of switching the race of a character or cast depends on how far-fetched the story is, how much ethnicity/culture is part of the plot, and how close the later production is intended to follow the original. I think a black or Asian cast doing Fiddler on the Roof in a Russian village setting would be a bit jarring. However, switch the setting to India, have an Indian cast, make a few tweaks and you could probably get it to work. On the other hand, doing Fiddler on the Roof with a multi-racial cast in any setting would take a substantial amount away from the plot and reduce the musical to essentially a concert.
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:47 PM
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I think a black or Asian cast doing Fiddler on the Roof in a Russian village setting would be a bit jarring.

Tell that to Troy Barnes.
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:40 PM
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I'll talk about comic books since I know them pretty well. Almost any comic book character could be played by someone of a different race, without a problem. Two exceptions that come to mind right away are Captain America and Captain Nazi. Cap A's origin goes back to the American army during WWII. The army was not yet integrated, and there is NO way a non-white person would have been chosen to get the super soldier serum, and represent the USA. And, Captain Nazi, I think the character speaks for itself.

There was a little bit of an uproar when Finn Jones was cast as Danny Rand in the Iron Fist Netflix series. There were people who said that an Asian-American should be cast, since Iron Fist can be seen in the "white savior" trope. The counter argument that I read was that the "Asian getting magical kung fu powers" was just as bad.
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Old 06-13-2019, 03:47 PM
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I'll talk about comic books since I know them pretty well. Almost any comic book character could be played by someone of a different race, without a problem. Two exceptions that come to mind right away are Captain America and Captain Nazi. Cap A's origin goes back to the American army during WWII. The army was not yet integrated, and there is NO way a non-white person would have been chosen to get the super soldier serum, and represent the USA. And, Captain Nazi, I think the character speaks for itself.
But...
SPOILER:
...they basically made Sam the new Captain America at the end of Endgame

(Overly cautious spoiler which is hard not to give context on without spoiling it)

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Old 06-13-2019, 03:51 PM
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But...

(Overly cautious spoiler which is hard not to give context on without spoiling it)
Pretty sure he meant "1940s Cap"

There are also tons of POC characters that shouldn't be made white....namely every single fucking Native superhero because they ALL have either stereotypical powers or are related to "The Rez"

2019 D.C. And Marvel and you still haven't even bothered to make amends.

Note: Forge would be perfect if it wernt for his backstory
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:08 PM
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Cap A's origin goes back to the American army during WWII. The army was not yet integrated, and there is NO way a non-white person would have been chosen to get the super soldier serum, and represent the USA.
You think the US wasn't above testing stuff on Blacks as human guinea pigs before giving it to White soldiers?
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:24 PM
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You think the US wasn't above testing stuff on Blacks as human guinea pigs before giving it to White soldiers?
"Steve Rogers discovers that Dr. Whatsisname was forced (Or lose all funding) to experiment on black soldiers before Steve got the Super-Soldier Serum. Most ended...'badly'...but with one soldier it was a success. Of course the govt. wouldn't let him serve and tried to keep him behind lines. But this soldier would have none of it, went rogue and was never heard from again after rescuing an entire batallion. The US covered it up."

I like this pitch.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:08 PM
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One thing that should be mentioned in the casting of Swinton as "The Ancient One" is that having a Tibetan in the role would have caused problems marketing the film in China. Personally, on the larger topic, I have no problem with race-changing on minor characters, but when you're dealing with the "majors" it could be another matter. Although we should note that had some of these iconic characters date back so far that making them black initially would have been impossible. I would certainly have no problem with making Ferro Lad black, since that was the creator's initial intent.
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Old 06-13-2019, 06:36 AM
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I agree with the OP about the uproar over the casting of Ghost in the Shell being absurd.

There has been plenty of both race- and gender-switching already, especially on stage. Heck, Pearl Bailey played a black Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly! back in 1967 (!)

Whoopi Goldberg took over the role of Pseudolus (previously a white male role) in a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1996.

There have been tons of gender-reversed plays (I've seen gender-reversed Waiting for Godot and Taming of the Shrew -- with "Peter" jokes taking the place of "Kate" jokes.) A feature of one science fiction convention I regularly attend is a gender-reversed episode of Star Trek TOS.

We haven't had a black James Bond yet, but there have been two different black Felix Leiters. And Will Smith played what was effectively a black 19th century Bond in The Wild, Wild West, something that actually added something when they made Dr. Loveless an unrepentant Southern racist. (Jim West was played by the white Robert Conrad in the TV original).

I'm even okay with blackface, yellowface, and the inverses of these, under the proper circumstances, although this is a VERY touchy subject still. But the multiple incidences in Cloud Atlas didn't bother me at all -- the whole point of the film was the interconnectedness of human lives, so it was altogether appropriate to have men playing female roles, women playing male roles, white people in black roles, black people in white roles, white people playing people of oriental ancestry and (the first time I think I've seen this) a woman of oriental ancestry playing a white woman. Also a black woman playing an Asian man.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:33 AM
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I'm even okay with blackface, yellowface, and the inverses of these, under the proper circumstances, although this is a VERY touchy subject still.
There was a time I wasn't bothered by Mr. Yunioshi, but these days, it completely ruins the experience of the film for me. I'd like to see a modern example of yellowface, well-executed.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:02 AM
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There was a time I wasn't bothered by Mr. Yunioshi, but these days, it completely ruins the experience of the film for me. I'd like to see a modern example of yellowface, well-executed.
Have a look at Cloud Atlas, then. I thought the makeup was well done, not an insulting stereotype. I suspect it bothered people a bit to see James d'Arcy and Hugo Weaving with epicanthic folds, because they were familiar with the actors (who, after all, appear as other character in the film). But I'll bet that, like me, most people didn't realize that Halle Berry also played an Asian character until they saw the scene credited to her in the closing credits.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:51 PM
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Have a look at Cloud Atlas, then. I thought the makeup was well done, not an insulting stereotype. I suspect it bothered people a bit to see James d'Arcy and Hugo Weaving with epicanthic folds, because they were familiar with the actors (who, after all, appear as other character in the film). But I'll bet that, like me, most people didn't realize that Halle Berry also played an Asian character until they saw the scene credited to her in the closing credits.
I'll have to watch it again. I thought it was a great movie, but I'm not an actor stalker and probably didn't realize that anyone was playing someone out of their race, simply because I don't know who they are in real life.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:35 AM
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Itís not unbelievable for an audience to buy an actor who is black to buy ēm in a role as a white character. Thatís a societal issue, not an inherent one.
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Old 06-13-2019, 07:28 AM
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Right, the context is not the context of the story. It’s the context of race in society and in the entertainment industry.

The problem of casting and race has to do with non-white and non-male actors, writers, and other creators being locked out of large parts of the industry. It’s not about whether in an artistic sense an actor of X race or gender or what ever should be allowed to portray a character of Y race or gender or what ever.

Because an actor is someone pretending to be someone ē isn’t, and whether it’s oretending to be a doctor, or a space alien, or someone of a different race or gender isn’t an artistic obstacle.

That it seems physically possible for a white woman to disguise herself as an Asian woman more easily than a black man to disguise himself as a white man is not an acting problem. It’s a problem created by the prejudices of our society.
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  #43  
Old 06-13-2019, 08:23 AM
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There are some that just HAVE to be played by a specific race due to their iconic nature. I can't imagine Thor played by anybody else than a big blond white guy
That's a failure of your imagination, not something inherent to the fictional character.

Jesus was likely not a tall, blond white man. Whatever he did look like, he has been portrayed with many different appearances, all to the satisfaction of a variety of audiences.

So there's no reason Thor has to be big, blond, white, or a guy, for a story about Thor to work.

For millennia, dramatic performances were limited to people who could stand right in front of you. So whatever those people looked like, human imagination was sufficient to have them play whatever roles needed to be played. So this is not a limitation of human nature.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:19 AM
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That's a failure of your imagination, not something inherent to the fictional character.

Jesus was likely not a tall, blond white man. Whatever he did look like, he has been portrayed with many different appearances, all to the satisfaction of a variety of audiences.

So there's no reason Thor has to be big, blond, white, or a guy, for a story about Thor to work.

For millennia, dramatic performances were limited to people who could stand right in front of you. So whatever those people looked like, human imagination was sufficient to have them play whatever roles needed to be played. So this is not a limitation of human nature.
I get your (valid) point. The difference, to I who am woefully ignorant in matters of the bible / Christianity, is that the Christ story was created/passed down by dudes who "cast" his character in their own image i.e., lily white guy as opposed to swarthy which he certainly would have been. Even though we conceptually know where he came from, his background / culture is secondary to his words and deeds. I think that's what makes it possible for the worshiper to picture him any way they want.

I'm almost as ignorant of superhero culture as I am of Christianity, but isn't the canon surrounding Thor steeped in Norse mythology? It seems like that aspect is a pretty crucial part of his character and, to my mind, yes, Norse = big, blonde white guy.

I do agree, though, that more often than not race needn't be a determining factor is casting a role.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:51 AM
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I'm almost as ignorant of superhero culture as I am of Christianity, but isn't the canon surrounding Thor steeped in Norse mythology? It seems like that aspect is a pretty crucial part of his character and, to my mind, yes, Norse = big, blonde white guy.
And, since we're on the subject of Thor and how the Scandinavians see him.

How the Scandinavians see Thor
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:37 AM
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That's a failure of your imagination, not something inherent to the fictional character.

Jesus was likely not a tall, blond white man. Whatever he did look like, he has been portrayed with many different appearances, all to the satisfaction of a variety of audiences.

So there's no reason Thor has to be big, blond, white, or a guy, for a story about Thor to work.

For millennia, dramatic performances were limited to people who could stand right in front of you. So whatever those people looked like, human imagination was sufficient to have them play whatever roles needed to be played. So this is not a limitation of human nature.
Itís still about context though. Is Thor the god of 14th century Vikings, where both Thor and the Vikings are a central part of the plot? If so, a black Thor creates a dissonance that distracts from the production. On the other hand, when considering an alternate version of a comic book hero with only a superficial connection to Norse mythology, if the Norse origin isnít central to the universe, thereís no reason race needs to be. Also, thereís other attributes besides race. Eddie Remayne would make a terrible Thor.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:43 AM
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Itís still about context though. Is Thor the god of 14th century Vikings, where both Thor and the Vikings are a central part of the plot? If so, a black Thor creates a dissonance that distracts from the production. On the other hand, when considering an alternate version of a comic book hero with only a superficial connection to Norse mythology, if the Norse origin isnít central to the universe, thereís no reason race needs to be. Also, thereís other attributes besides race. Eddie Remayne would make a terrible Thor.
The Viking era ended in the 11th century. By the 14th Scandinavia had been pretty much exclusively Christian for at least 200 years, with the exception being Sami traditional religion rather than pockets of Norse paganism. Which of course isn't relevant to you point.

As someone descended from Frey* I agree completely that Marvel Thor never was all that closely tied to mythical Thor in the first place. Wrong helmet, wrong hammer, wrong hair color.

I'm more offended by that, and stuff like Hela being sister to Loki instead of daughter than I am about Idris Elba. And to be honest the only thing about it that really irks me is when someone thinks they know Norse myths and they've only got drips through the Marvel universe.

*There's multiple parts of that line that is scholarly ... dubious
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Old 06-14-2019, 03:56 AM
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The Viking era ended in the 11th century. By the 14th Scandinavia had been pretty much exclusively Christian for at least 200 years, with the exception being Sami traditional religion rather than pockets of Norse paganism. Which of course isn't relevant to you point.
Thanks for pointing out the incorrect timeline. I'll let the props department know they need to change the dates in the background calendars.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:50 AM
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Stage is not the same as film and TV. For the latter, audiences demand a higher level of realism. That's just the way it is. Film a movie just like a stage play, with the same style of staging, acting, direction, with the same type of sets and lights, and people will complain that it doesn't look real.

Last edited by Alessan; 06-13-2019 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:00 AM
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Stage is not the same as film and TV. For the latter, audiences demand a higher level of realism. That's just the way it is. Film a movie just like a stage play, with the same style of staging, acting, direction, with the same type of sets and lights, and people will complain that it doesn't look real.
Again, this is a societal issue, not one inherent to being human.
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