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White-washing


Prometheus
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I recently watched the BBCs recent version of Richard III. The Earl of Warwick and Lady Margaret were played by actors from ethnic minority communities. I briefly considered this a bit strange since they are playing historical figures who were white. However, i believe history belongs to everyone, and hopefully the inclusion of ethnic minority groups in such plays will help everyone feel like it is their history (for instance i love Chinese history and i consider it my history as much as any European history).

I also vaguely remember J.K. Rowling blasting someone for complaining when one of her characters, portrayed as white in the Harry Potter books, was played by some one not white. She said something along the lines of ethnicity having nothing whatsoever to do with the story so the play should cast whoever they like.

Then a came across this article in which a white actor resigned his role because the character was originally written as being of asian decent. Now, i've never watched or read Hellboy, but i suspect ethnicity has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. And even if it does, isn't it hypocritical to allow people of any ethnicity to play traditionally white roles, but not vice versa? Am i missing something?

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No, you're not missing anything. It is not a secret that the forced political corectness has stopped making sense (note, correctness only applies to non-white people). You know that everyone would lose their shit if a white person were to replace a non-white character, but it is ok if it is the other way round.

It has been happening for a few years now in media. Pretty much all video game protagonists of upcoming popular games are non-white males, even in established francizes which have several games with the protagonist being a white male. In the upcoming, self-described ''historically accurate'' Call of Duty WW2 game, you will be able to play as a black female Nazi on the Axis side, lol.

People have also criticized the show ''Game of Thrones'' because of the lack of non-white people. Frankly, I find it sickening that every piece of media must be checkboxed to include every race, gender and religious minority. These people are very sensitive if you don't include a forced cast where every character is of a different preset. And the bit with J.K. Rowling is bollocks, because if you've seen the cast, every single person from it was cast to look as close as possible to the original character, except for Hermione. In this context, the sentiment that anyone can be ''what they want'' makes no sense, seeing how she's the only dramatically different character. This is also to cater to the oversensitive.

 

Edited by Lord Antares
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22 minutes ago, Lord Antares said:

Frankly, I find it sickening that every piece of media must be checkboxed to include every race, gender and religious minority. 

Yes, because it is much more comfortable if everyone looks like you. 

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I don't think the race of fictional characters matter. I think arguments over what race Batman or James Bond should be are stupid. They're not real people and as such anyone should be able to play them. As for characters based on real people I think producers should be mindful of ethnicity. For many decades we have seen Latinos used to play Native Americans, Chinese used to play Japanese, Indians used for Middle Eastern, and etc. After decades of doing it wrong there is some pressure out there to get it straight and I am okay with that. As for contradictions, all this aren't equal. In totality I don't think the number of "white roles" are going to other groups as vice versa. When. Spiderman Homecoming came out this year I read articles where some were complaining about the forced inclusion of diversity in the film and found it ridiculous. The film takes place in modern day Bronx how could it not be diverse? If anything having whites in the that film was the forced part.

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23 minutes ago, Lord Antares said:

You know that everyone would lose their shit if a white person were to replace a non-white character, but it is ok if it is the other way round.

Um, not so much. This has been happening for decades. It's only relatively recently that there has been any significant resistance to it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/01/28/100-times-a-white-actor-played-someone-who-wasnt-white/?utm_term=.78703cc84a97

 

Some roles have an ethnicity attached to it (see above comment by Ten oz about historic characters). Some are generic.  

 

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24 minutes ago, Strange said:

Yes, because it is much more comfortable if everyone looks like you. 

No, you missed my point completely. I'm saying the exact opposite. I'm saying that it doesn't matter that everyone looks like you, which is why forcing diversity as an agenda is senseless. Do I mind watching a film where the full cast is black? Nope. GTA San Andreas, one of the most highly praised video games of all time - every main character is black. Do I mind? No, I loved every single main character in there. Do I mind that Jackie Chan is Chinese and he's the main role? No, I love Jackie Chan. Did I mind playing the old Tomb Raider games as a woman? No. I've never cared for these things. I don't see the issue in watching or playing as someone who doesn't look like you. Why does it matter? 

In anticipation of you saying ''then why do you mind that casts are being diversified?'', I mind that it's being done for political reasons, instead of being a natural choice. Let the one you feel is most appropriate be the character and that's it.

21 minutes ago, swansont said:

Um, not so much. This has been happening for decades. It's only relatively recently that there has been any significant resistance to it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/01/28/100-times-a-white-actor-played-someone-who-wasnt-white/?utm_term=.78703cc84a97

 

Some roles have an ethnicity attached to it (see above comment by Ten oz about historic characters). Some are generic.  

 

I didn't say the other end is good either. If a white character is playing a historically black one, that's senseless as well.

13 minutes ago, Manticore said:

Who gives a toss what "ethnicity" (whatever that means) an actor is - the important part is how good they are at acting.

Yes. Why does the character need to be white in order for me to like him?

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23 minutes ago, Manticore said:

Who gives a toss what "ethnicity" (whatever that means) an actor is - the important part is how good they are at acting.

 

Personally, I don't but then again I'm a white male, what would I know of a glass ceiling? 

Edited by dimreepr
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40 minutes ago, Lord Antares said:

 Yes. Why does the character need to be white in order for me to like him?

Ideally it wouldn't matter. but in practice, it does, statistically speaking. (i.e. it may not matter to you, but it seems to matter to a significant swath of the potential audience, or, at least, studio executives think it does)

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Just look at all the Foriegn films that get done over with white casts. If American and British movies can sell in China and Japan as is why isn't the opposite true? The Ring, Grudge, Dark Water, The Eye, and on and on were all Asian films done over frame by frame with white actors. In many cases the original films are superior. 

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34 minutes ago, swansont said:

Ideally it wouldn't matter. but in practice, it does, statistically speaking. (i.e. it may not matter to you, but it seems to matter to a significant swath of the potential audience, or, at least, studio executives think it does)

Fortunately my ethics have never been governed by the thinking of studio executives.

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1 hour ago, swansont said:

Some roles have an ethnicity attached to it (see above comment by Ten oz about historic characters). Some are generic.  

Is it your contention then that Margaret of Anjou from the play Richard III should not be played by an actor such as Sophie Okonedo? She is a white historical character after all. I actually don't mind this for the reasons i gave in the OP, as long as no one is trying to pass it off as historical fact.

 

1 hour ago, Ten oz said:

I think arguments over what race Batman or James Bond should be are stupid. 

 

Unless the race of a character is important to the story. If a film version of To kill a mockingbird ever comes out, the ethnicity of the actors should be pertinent.

But i agree, race in films such as Spiderman or Hellboy shouldn't matter, so it should be OK for a white actor to play an originally asian character shouldn't it? Unless the character's race does come into it in Hellboy - i don't know the comics so i can't say. Does anyone know?

 

4 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

Just look at all the Foriegn films that get done over with white casts. If American and British movies can sell in China and Japan as is why isn't the opposite true? The Ring, Grudge, Dark Water, The Eye, and on and on were all Asian films done over frame by frame with white actors. In many cases the original films are superior. 

Do people actually watch those shitty remakes? Weird. I agree, in all those cases the original films are far superior. The Japanese version of Monkey is better than the Chinese version though. It also happens with European films and series being made into inferior American products, so i suspect some of it is just an unwillingness to listen to a foreign language and read subtitles.

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37 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

Is it your contention then that Margaret of Anjou from the play Richard III should not be played by an actor such as Sophie Okonedo? She is a white historical character after all. I actually don't mind this for the reasons i gave in the OP, as long as no one is trying to pass it off as historical fact.

I'm not that familiar with the play. I have no opinion.

37 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

Unless the race of a character is important to the story. If a film version of To kill a mockingbird ever comes out, the ethnicity of the actors should be pertinent.

Ever comes out? You're about 55 years late to the game.

 

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36 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

 

Do people actually watch those shitty remakes? Weird. I agree, in all those cases the original films are far superior. The Japanese version of Monkey is better than the Chinese version though. It also happens with European films and series being made into inferior American products, so i suspect some of it is just an unwillingness to listen to a foreign language and read subtitles.

True, many European movies are remade too. It is odd though. A U.S. movie staring white stars  do well in Mexico, Brazil, Japan, China, India, etc, etc all the time but the opposite is nearly never true. Audiences in the U.S. simply won't watch films which aren't about them. 

 

Do I care if a specific role in Hellboy is played by an Asian vs a white actor; nope. I won't be watching either way. That said white actors aren't hurting for work. Look this past summer. Guardians of the Galaxy, Wonder Woman, Logan, Spiderman, The Mummy, Dunkirk, Planet of the Apes, Split, and etc were all films which featured nearly all white casts. I don't know if there was a single Asian person in any of those films. So if there is a character out there which is traditionally Asian I can see why people would want it to stay that way. 

 

 

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53 minutes ago, swansont said:

I'm not that familiar with the play. I have no opinion.

Ever comes out? You're about 55 years late to the game.

I'd highly recommend the adaptation, but as a BBC product i'm not sure of availability in the US.

55 years? I'm more up to date than i thought.

54 minutes ago, Ten oz said:

I won't be watching either way. That said white actors aren't hurting for work. Look this past summer. Guardians of the Galaxy, Wonder Woman, Logan, Spiderman, The Mummy, Dunkirk, Planet of the Apes, Split, and etc were all films which featured nearly all white casts. I don't know if there was a single Asian person in any of those films. So if there is a character out there which is traditionally Asian I can see why people would want it to stay that way. 

 

Neither will i, nor have i watched any of those other movies. The only US film i've watched this year is Get Out, which is fantastic, a film that definitely needed racial casting to work. Interestingly many black US actors complained that the lead was taken by a British actor. He responded by saying British actors were better at acting.

But if people are tired of watching a bunch of white actors in US movies they could try watching some of the very many excellent films from around the world instead. Hollywood is all about box office sales so audiences turning away would probably be more effective way making them listen. They may even have to make better movies then. Actually i lied, i did watch half of the Avengers recently: so bad, so very bad, i can't understand how anyone can watch it.

 

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27 minutes ago, Prometheus said:

 

Neither will i, nor have i watched any of those other movies. The only US film i've watched this year is Get Out, which is fantastic, a film that definitely needed racial casting to work. Interestingly many black US actors complained that the lead was taken by a British actor. He responded by saying British actors were better at acting.

But if people are tired of watching a bunch of white actors in US movies they could try watching some of the very many excellent films from around the world instead. Hollywood is all about box office sales so audiences turning away would probably be more effective way making them listen. They may even have to make better movies then. Actually i lied, i did watch half of the Avengers recently: so bad, so very bad, i can't understand how anyone can watch it.

 

All depends on the genre. I think Norwegian films are better at mystery, Japanese but at horror, the French better at comedy, and Bollywood the best at mixing genres. It is a shame that great films like Insomnia and Girl with the Dragon tattoo got crummy remakes because U.S. audience can't be bothered with subtitles. Secret in there Eyes was a fabulous movie and got remade into something pitiful. 

 

I have not seen Get Out but from what I have read it seems very similar the movie Skeleton Key. The racial component is just flipped. 

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2 hours ago, Prometheus said:

 Actually i lied, i did watch half of the Avengers recently: so bad, so very bad, i can't understand how anyone can watch it.

I also watched half of the Avengers and couldn't keep watching. There's something with new films that makes them so much dumber and worse than older ones. I know I sound like a hipster, but I really mean it.

4 hours ago, Ten oz said:

Just look at all the Foriegn films that get done over with white casts.

Please don't call non-American people as ''foreign''. It is a pet-peeve of mine. This is not an American exclusive forum.

4 hours ago, swansont said:

Ideally it wouldn't matter. but in practice, it does, statistically speaking. (i.e. it may not matter to you, but it seems to matter to a significant swath of the potential audience, or, at least, studio executives think it does)

I know it does since they keep whining about it. But it doesn't actually make sense. Take video games for example. The majority of players are male and a lot of the new games will feature female lead characters (sometimes replacing old male ones in an existing franchize). Clearly, there's an outcry for it, yet most players are male. So it doesn't seem to be true that people just want to play themselves; they just want pandering.

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7 hours ago, Prometheus said:

I recently watched the BBCs recent version of Richard III. The Earl of Warwick and Lady Margaret were played by actors from ethnic minority communities. I briefly considered this a bit strange since they are playing historical figures who were white. However, i believe history belongs to everyone, and hopefully the inclusion of ethnic minority groups in such plays will help everyone feel like it is their history (for instance i love Chinese history and i consider it my history as much as any European history).

I also vaguely remember J.K. Rowling blasting someone for complaining when one of her characters, portrayed as white in the Harry Potter books, was played by some one not white. She said something along the lines of ethnicity having nothing whatsoever to do with the story so the play should cast whoever they like.

Then a came across this article in which a white actor resigned his role because the character was originally written as being of asian decent. Now, i've never watched or read Hellboy, but i suspect ethnicity has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. And even if it does, isn't it hypocritical to allow people of any ethnicity to play traditionally white roles, but not vice versa? Am i missing something?

The context for this discussion is important as it is a mostly American issue, specifically one at the intersection between society and film industry. The basis is that the default assumption (again, for the US film industry) for all leads, even if not specifically mentioned in the source material, is assumed to be white, which creates a difficult situation for minority actors. I.e. unless a role is specifically defined as Asian, Latino or Black, it usually defaults to white. That this is the norm has been accepted by society to a degree that deviations are often perceived as forced PC. The result is three-fold. A) minority actors have only access to a limited number of roles and b) most of these roles are minor and c) few of these actors will become big names. The combination of these events make it less likely that a studio will cast a minority actor in major film as a lead.

Even in cases where the source material indicates a certain non-white ethnicity, those movies will more likely cast white actors (anyone remember Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's?). Obviously, the film industry is in most cases not too concerned regarding accuracy of portrayal (unless, perhaps, it is the very subject of the movie), but it is clear that especially for leads it is more common that a minority character is played by a white character or that only a white actor is considered to begin with. Again, the fact that some viewers are upset about an increase of diversity in minor roles shows how used on is to the fact that minorities are not considered to be actors the same way as white performers. 

The specific movie is basically one in a long string of criticisms that have highlighted this issue where the complaint goes that even for minor roles the opportunities for, in this case Asian actors, are artificially restricted. Black actors are to some degree an exception as there are some big names that can be leads, though often they made their careers by playing stereotypical black roles. More than anything an actor declining the role is showing solidarity with his fellow (Asian) actors.

 

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17 minutes ago, CharonY said:

The context for this discussion is important as it is a mostly American issue, specifically one at the intersection between society and film industry.

There is quite active debate in the UK concerning ethnic ratios on television, both dramas and general programming. The situation is greatly improved over that of thirty or forty years ago. Is there room for further improvement? Probably, though I would prefer it occur naturally, because it is the right way to go, rather than by means of imposed actions.

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16 minutes ago, CharonY said:

The specific movie is basically one in a long string of criticisms that have highlighted this issue where the complaint goes that even for minor roles the opportunities for, in this case Asian actors, are artificially restricted. Black actors are to some degree an exception as there are some big names that can be leads, though often they made their careers by playing stereotypical black roles. More than anything an actor declining the role is showing solidarity with his fellow (Asian) actors.

But it's not like the Indian, Japanese or Korean movie industries are struggling and the Chinese film industry is fast catching up. Plenty of work there i would imagine. Maybe it's more of a problem for monolingual American born Asians.

 

23 minutes ago, Lord Antares said:

I also watched half of the Avengers and couldn't keep watching. There's something with new films that makes them so much dumber and worse than older ones. I know I sound like a hipster, but I really mean it.

The biggest problem for me, among many, was having so many lead characters with big egos having to squeeze their character development into about 2 lines each between action sequences. The kids cartoon did a much better job.

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2 hours ago, Prometheus said:

But it's not like the Indian, Japanese or Korean movie industries are struggling and the Chinese film industry is fast catching up. Plenty of work there i would imagine. Maybe it's more of a problem for monolingual American born Asians.

 

As I said, it is in the context of the US industry. After all, one should not expect you to have to move to a different country for a job, just because of your heritage. 

 

3 hours ago, Area54 said:

There is quite active debate in the UK concerning ethnic ratios on television, both dramas and general programming. The situation is greatly improved over that of thirty or forty years ago. Is there room for further improvement? Probably, though I would prefer it occur naturally, because it is the right way to go, rather than by means of imposed actions.

There are no quotas, even if one might think so. The problem is, how does it occur naturally? If there is an expectation, of whiteness as default, for example, how is it going to shift other by actively hiring non-whites? The only way really, is to have race-neutral castings as the norm, rather than the exception I imagine.

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15 hours ago, Lord Antares said:

 Take video games for example. The majority of players are male and a lot of the new games will feature female lead characters (sometimes replacing old male ones in an existing franchize). Clearly, there's an outcry for it, yet most players are male. So it doesn't seem to be true that people just want to play themselves; they just want pandering.

Are they mostly male? And, if yes, is that because the characters are mostly male? Adding female characters could just be an effort to expand sales. And that's the view in films, too. Executives are interested in making money. If having prominent white actors play non-white roles, (or having a heavily male cast) meant more people went to see the film, that's what they would do.  

Until the public outcry rose to a certain level, they could safely ignore it, as it had no measurable effect on their bottom line.

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30 minutes ago, swansont said:

Are they mostly male? And, if yes, is that because the characters are mostly male?

Good point. There has been a rise in female players these past years, which supports your point.

However, as of now, males are still mutiple times more likely to play a game, even with a lead female character. DOTA 2, for example, a very popular games features a cast with close to 50% of characters being female, yet the majority of players are still male and all pro players are male. So, males are still more dedicated and interested, but it could be because of the long-lasting tradition of video games being a ''male thing''. I do expect to see a rise in female population, which I don't mind.

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12 hours ago, CharonY said:

As I said, it is in the context of the US industry. After all, one should not expect you to have to move to a different country for a job, just because of your heritage. 

 

There are no quotas, even if one might think so. The problem is, how does it occur naturally? If there is an expectation, of whiteness as default, for example, how is it going to shift other by actively hiring non-whites? The only way really, is to have race-neutral castings as the norm, rather than the exception I imagine.

A few weeks back I was at a friends house helping him install some lighting and the movie Stand By Me was playing in the background. He and I briefly discussed our favorite scenes of the movie. My friend is Indian yet likes the movie Stand By Me which is centered around a group of white children. Everyone I have every spoken about movies with likes Stand By Me regardless of their background. The movie is a classic loved by all here in the U.S.. If the Stand By Me featured a group of children which were something other than white would it still be loved by all here in the States? My guess is no. In the U.S. it seems all groups are willing to watch movies which star white leads but the opposite isn't true. White audiences in the U.S. don't seem to be willing to watch non white leads.

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