The Big Picture: Skin Deep

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trying to "black wash" the past
tee hee

I saw Thor over the weekend and i have to say that despite Norse mythology, the changes made by marvel, and the reasonable argument about it not making sense; FUCK! Idras was awesome in that movie.

As far as the double standard on paper swapping the skin color of a character is bad. BUT in action the plan can be outstanding such as Idras as Heimdall.

I can't disagree at all. Good column today.

Though I would direct people to the works of an Economist named Walter Williams. He is a black doctor of economics, and he maintains that race isn't the all empowered do all of our civilization, and even though racism does exist, it's doesn't hold back any minority in America like so many people maintain it does. He gives loads and loads of empirical evidence as well. His last book is called, Race and Economics.

PS. He did a great job as Heimdall, but it wasn't the most amazingly written part either. His character, while incredibly cool, was still a Tertiary character, as he should have been because Heimdall is not a long spoken character. In the comics, he mostly just stares off into the distance, having situational cosmic awareness and all, and taking his job very seriously.

Good points, Bob. However, you need to do that Samurai Pizza Cats episode YESTERDAY. The Escapist can eat it, and anyway, didn't they give you this particular show so you could talk about literally whatever came into your head as long as you could do at least 5 minutes about it and make it entertaining?

I think part of the reason that Samuel L. Jackson could be Nick Fury without an uproar is that he has broken through the color barrier because of his role in other action movies. When we see Jackson on the scene, we don't see a black man; we see Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane, or Mace Windu. The success of his previous films means that we see an actor first and a black man second which is how it should be. Thor created controversy because the actor in question did not have this resume and so it was seen as a black man in a role rather than a talented actor.

When it comes to talking about race in movies, I would first watch the Extra credit on female characters. The same principle applies. Does the race of the character effect the plot and interaction with the character? Think about Gordan Freeman from Half-Life, does his race add anything to the character? Not really, he could have just as easily been black, white, asian, hispanic or what ever else. Now ask if Heimdall being white helped build his character in any way?

Skjutentrast:
As a Swede the whole THOR thing is mostly a joke to us anyways.
Thor in Norse myth is QUITE different from the THOR in the US. So, If they want to cast a great dark-skinned actor I don't give a fuck, since Norse mythology really seems to mostly be an inspiration.
(http://satwcomic.com/nordic-halloween)

But, I don't think that you can inherit guilt. Never mind that European colonialism and technology have risen the standard of for the former colonies. (See india)
So, I really feel that race isn't an issue anymore. But, I'm speaking for northern Europe. Our hands are (Mostly) clean in this issue.

Do you REALLY want to claim innocence as Europe? Sweden may be, but the Dutch, French, Spaniards and to some extent the British really can't claim to be the great benefactors of their old colonies. The Congo was one of the worst examples of how to run a colony EVER, and the French in Algeria didn't really help. Spain is partially responsible for some of the problems in South American nations, setting up a system where only the rich had any power, and slaughtering the natives before essentially enslaving them. The aforementioned and Germany have no right to claim a lack of racism, look at the massive problems they have with immigration and "preservation of culture."

No because Japan is like 96% up to 98% japanese. Also 5% of US is like 15 million people. That is like a lot of people. Also you don't need a world of asian actors, all you need is 10 or 20. You can not name 100 white actors by color.
My point is hollywood is very biased, to the point where some characters became an inside joke to critics. Let's say the magic negro. The flaming rage leg kicker asian. The old white men who governs all. The loving abused and passive white woman.

MovieBob:
Skin Deep

Sometimes embracing a double standard is the right thing to do.

Watch Video

MovieBob, I think I love you. Oh and for the record, Samuel L Jackson could play any character and I'd probably find it convincing, hell, if he played santa I'd think he rocked.

What's maddening for me with the whole whitewashing is that you have movies like say, "21", where the original story was about a bunch of ASIAN AMERICAN students at MIT taking down the house. Come 21, they all turn white.

The whole minority actor shaft gets even worse when you break it down by gender as well.

example:
black female characters are almost always sassy black women (unless in a tyler perry movie)
asian male characters are almost always the asexual kungfu/techie/sidekick.
asian female characters are almost always hypersexualized/dragon ladies/both, and pretty much MUST be paired up with a white guy
native americans are universally spiritual "living off the land" types who spout faux new age ideology
middle eastern males are always tied in with terrorism, either as a perp or a victim. If not one of those, then you're watching a period piece.
middle eastern women are basically all there to stand around in burkas.

and so on.

Once again, you broach the serious stuff and I find myself quite convinced that you just don't have what it takes to treat this kind of subject with the objective and rational perspective it requires. Even the notion that accepting a double standard is the right idea is preposterous. Also, if you yourself don't think you're qualified to talk about this from an international perspective, don't bother at all. This goes without saying.

Sorry, Bob, but fancy editing and a show on the Escapist does not a credible argument make. I have no personal preference on the matter at hand but the issue you've turned it into, no less the solution to propose for it, make no sense.

MatsVS:
It's not about the sins of the father, its about the cultural nonequivalence which is the direct result of generations of racism.

This argument misses the fact that the lack of cultural equivalence is a result of white nations being white nations for centuries. This means that culture, in this case media, is created for and by Caucasians. The exact same can be said of any nation of any ethnicity.

During the more recent times, the welfare of the Western world has attracted peoples from all over the world, in effect turning previously white nations into multiethnic nations, admittedly with varying amounts of minorities in each country. This means that there will be people in these previously white nations who feel that the culture isn't representative of them. This is as expected, it isn't strange, and it isn't even remotely related to any kind of racism.

Racism did not have anything to do with this. Rather, what racism did is skew peoples' perception regarding the worth of human beings, implying that a person's ethnicity is somehow indicative of their value. That was the true doctrine of racism. People today throw around this word easily, most of them having no idea of the actual practical implications of racist doctrine. There's not a single person on this forum who could stomach actual racism, and the usage of this term to refer to something as immeasurably trivial as the cast of a motion picture not only smacks of uneducated thinking but it is also grossly dismissive of the people who have experienced actual racism in recent history.

It's curious that believers in "white guilt" are so ready to attribute heinous characteristics to white people. That view of humanity is rather alarming. Contrary to popular opinion, hating someone because of their race isn't racism, it's merely being rather xenophobic. The two are not the same, neither in practice nor in principle.

MatsVS:
That makes it morally responsible to recast a white character as black, yet not the other way around.

This statement is based on false conclusions. Even if it wasn't, it's still invalid owing to the fact that it caters to a double standard.

Sean951:

Skjutentrast:
As a Swede the whole THOR thing is mostly a joke to us anyways.
Thor in Norse myth is QUITE different from the THOR in the US. So, If they want to cast a great dark-skinned actor I don't give a fuck, since Norse mythology really seems to mostly be an inspiration.
(http://satwcomic.com/nordic-halloween)

But, I don't think that you can inherit guilt. Never mind that European colonialism and technology have risen the standard of for the former colonies. (See india)
So, I really feel that race isn't an issue anymore. But, I'm speaking for northern Europe. Our hands are (Mostly) clean in this issue.

Do you REALLY want to claim innocence as Europe? Sweden may be, but the Dutch, French, Spaniards and to some extent the British really can't claim to be the great benefactors of their old colonies. The Congo was one of the worst examples of how to run a colony EVER, and the French in Algeria didn't really help. Spain is partially responsible for some of the problems in South American nations, setting up a system where only the rich had any power, and slaughtering the natives before essentially enslaving them. The aforementioned and Germany have no right to claim a lack of racism, look at the massive problems they have with immigration and "preservation of culture."

I want to claim innocence as having abso-fucking-lutely diddly-squat to do with any of that in any stretch of the imagination.

SINS OF THE FUCKING FATHERS

100% Spot on. And Samurai Pizza Cats were great

Mechanix:
I liked this episode, but I'm left with a question...when was the last time a black character was replaced with a white actor? Does it even happen often enough to be a problem?

Prior to the 50's all the time.
Films like "Birth of a Nation"
Western films historical films about Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, and other historically non white figures were cast by whites, background characters were often the appropriate race but Hollywood didn't give leading roles to minorities. Watch old western films the "Native Americans" are often just white people with make up and you can't forget good ol' Black Face. So yeah our generation hasn't seen anything like that since say Tropic Thunder and that was meant to poke fun at the old practice of casting whites as minorities who played major roles in the story.

I'm black and I didn't really see the need to cast Michael Clarke Duncan as King Pin in Daredevil but he did a decent job of portraying the character also I'm not big of Thor or Norse mythology but I must concede that Elba did a great job.

I also wish more people would attack Tyler Perry he is a horrible producer and actor and should've been left in the last decade, yet has been allowed to germinate.

And I bet in 10+ years he'll eventually come out of the closet as was parodied in Boondocks.

So, in Bob's opinion, its better for a black guy to rob a white guy than the other way arround, and two wrongs make a right. That's just his opinion.

I agree with Bob that casting a black actor did not really make it worse. The fact is that the vikings in Thor themselves are a far cry from the Norse legends anyway (look at the comic Valhalla for more correct versions).

However, the whole 'white guilt' issue can be a bit problematic to people whose families have not ever even BEEN to america. I think it also is unique to america to see EVERY white person as the same.

Let me explain, here in europe, being from a different country is almost equal to ones race. National stereotypes Americans have did not come from nowhere, after all. The fact is that a person who is from russia is treated differently than a native finnish person here.

Anyway, Last Airbender was a travesty in so many ways, and I was mad that a series which is ASIAN couldn't get ASIAN actors at all. Or say Dragonball completely butchered. But these two are bad ASIDE from their racial insensitivity. Their directors treated their source material badly to begin with.

Airbender's choice to even make the LEGIMATE chinese text the cartoon had gibberish was mindboggling. Then again, that might also be a race issue. Because its foreign, it doesn't matter how you treat it.

You know, thinking about this, Brink is actually the more racially rounded game I've ever seen.
Due to its unique setting it's made in such a manner that there is no prominent majority. Black, White, Asian, African or anything in between.
Given there's going to be some racial stereotyping in the story line with character being defined by their accents no doubt but it's probably the least stereotypical game I've seen in a loooong time.
Also I managed to incorporate different raced without having to have their race the focus of the conflict. i.e. Dragon Age's apparent racism towards mages. :B
Just the way i'm looking at it personally.

The way I see it, we should base all our casting on what colour the character is, or none of it and just go by acting ability. I really don't see why we should cherrypick when it's acceptable or not, despite what Bob says.

It would be one thing if Idris Elba stuck out like a sore thumb because he was the only non-white face (other than Hogun) to be seen in Asgard. But this is not the lily-white, Scandinavian Asgard of Norse mythology, but the only-slightly-based-on-the-source-material Asgard of Marvel Comics. Look at the crowd scenes of Asgard in the movie. What do you see? Lots of different skin colors. The fact that one major, named character in this Asgard is played perfectly by a great black-skinned actor should mean nothing.

Dansrage:

Sean951:

Skjutentrast:
As a Swede the whole THOR thing is mostly a joke to us anyways.
Thor in Norse myth is QUITE different from the THOR in the US. So, If they want to cast a great dark-skinned actor I don't give a fuck, since Norse mythology really seems to mostly be an inspiration.
(http://satwcomic.com/nordic-halloween)

But, I don't think that you can inherit guilt. Never mind that European colonialism and technology have risen the standard of for the former colonies. (See india)
So, I really feel that race isn't an issue anymore. But, I'm speaking for northern Europe. Our hands are (Mostly) clean in this issue.

Do you REALLY want to claim innocence as Europe? Sweden may be, but the Dutch, French, Spaniards and to some extent the British really can't claim to be the great benefactors of their old colonies. The Congo was one of the worst examples of how to run a colony EVER, and the French in Algeria didn't really help. Spain is partially responsible for some of the problems in South American nations, setting up a system where only the rich had any power, and slaughtering the natives before essentially enslaving them. The aforementioned and Germany have no right to claim a lack of racism, look at the massive problems they have with immigration and "preservation of culture."

I want to claim innocence as having abso-fucking-lutely diddly-squat to do with any of that in any stretch of the imagination.

SINS OF THE FUCKING FATHERS

But the current immigration problems are very much the issue of those alive today. I brought up the past because you claimed that Europe helped all it's foreign colonies.

.......... MARRY ME BOB.

scaryface.jpg

Ahem hrm. I mean: you said everything what I've been trying to put into coherent sentences for a long time.

Everything.

So, yeah... Thank you =)

Racism is important but...

You'd better make that Samurai Pizza Cats episode, Bob!

MatsVS:

Dansrage:

MatsVS:
Funny how 'historical precedence' immediately gets equated by stupid white bigots as 'SINS OF THE FATHER' as they desperately try to rationalize their own biases and dismiss the concept of white privilege. Funny and sad, obviously. Stupid is as stupid does.

Bite me, i'm not a racist and i'm not guilty of a damn thing, i just don't like being forced to feel guilty for something i never took part in.
Sins of the fathers indeed.

You missed the point again.

It's not about the sins of the father, its about the cultural nonequivalence which is the direct result of generations of racism. That makes it morally responsible to recast a white character as black, yet not the other way around. If this makes you feel somehow slighted, that is the hard-wired white privilege which has been ingrained in your subconscious through years of the cultural doctrine of white superiority. Word of the wise: Get over it, because the world is getting over you.

I hate to break this to you, but it is more or less a fact that people identify with the types of faces that they grow up seeing. In all cultures. That's why if you don't have a diverse upbringing you'll see everyone who isn't your race as looking the same. It's also why you'll gravitate to people of your own race over others. It isn't a white thing, it's a human thing. There's a difference between unconscious bias and outright racism. Are there still racists? You bet your ass there are. But calling it 'white privilege' when it's really just unconscious bias for most people is going to do nothing but get people's backs up and piss them off, which is generally unproductive.

Go to Japan if you think only white people are capable of bias or racism. I like the Japanese, but man are they ethnocentric.

As far as casting actors in movies, I think they just need to make more decent roles for people of other races. I'm a fan of Norse mythology, but I don't have a huge problem with Elba playing Heimdall because it's already so far from being true to Norse mythology that it hardly matters. If it were a true retelling, then it would just be inappropriate to cast him. True they need more parts for black people, but no one should be cast in a part that they are so mismatched for that it throws the audience out of believability, which I think would inevitably happen every time the audience sees the black Norse god appear on screen. And that's from a purely artistic standpoint.

Sean951:
But the current immigration problems are very much the issue of those alive today. I brought up the past because you claimed that Europe helped all it's foreign colonies.

Certainly you're not implying that immigration-related issues in Europe today are caused by the host countries being racist?

image

Idealistic, maybe. The fact is that these roles need to be written for people rather than races.

I'm not sure if "embrace the double standard" is the way to go here. Wouldn't it be better to have a rational standard, like "making changes to source material for the purpose of attempting to appeal to the supposed lowest common denominator" is bad while "making changes to the source material to bring in more variety and awesome performances by people who would have been excluded by the perhaps unintentional or unthinking one-dimensionality of the original version" is good? That way you HAVE a standard, it's a RATIONAL standard which ANYONE can apply, and no double standard whatsoever is involved!

Granted, it's a slightly more complex standard, so it does require some THOUGHT to apply it. Maybe that's why everyone seems so resistant to it.

cynicalsaint1:
Meanwhile there isn't anything in particular that demands Heimdall be white other than the fact that the culture that developed the mythology that the character is loosely based on was very white.

Surely that itself is reason enough.

I get what you're saying Bob, and such tragic history must certainly be remembered, if for no other reason than understanding that racism = bad. I also recognize the fact that there are more roles available strictly to white actors than color-blind roles or roles available exclusively to non-whites actors. All of what you said in that regard is true.

However, I must disagree with you on the view that these facts justify such double standards. If we wish to start moving toward our ideal (or at least more ideal) world, we should start by letting go of that history. Not forgetting, as I've said it's important to remember, but getting over it - that goes for people of all races. If we could do this, I don't think you'd see a fit thrown over the casting of an actor of a different race than the role they were playing, at least no more in one direction than the other. Essentially what I'm saying is that we need to make race a non-issue by simple ignoring it when it's not relevant. Of course this really isn't a realistic approach to ending racism, but it may be the only one that would actually work.

On another note, though, I must agree that Elba was absolutely awesome in the ten minutes of total screen time he got. They should have just made a movie about him.

Chatney:

Sean951:
But the current immigration problems are very much the issue of those alive today. I brought up the past because you claimed that Europe helped all it's foreign colonies.

Certainly you're not implying that immigration-related issues in Europe today are caused by the host countries being racist?

Especially not when it's just as difficult if not impossible for whites of other nationalities to come into other white countries. Someone I knew wanted to immigrate into England out of the USA. Not going to happen! Not without several years residency or a doctorate in a crucial skill.

Namewithheld:
I am amused that MLP:FIM is referenced as the perfect world without racism.

Zecora, anyone? There was only a whole episode about how all the Ponies were racist against her for being a zebra.

image

Then their OVERCOMING of said racism by the end of the episode. Remember, Twilight went to have Tea with Zecora but was turned to stone.

:O SAMURAI PIZZA CATS ZOMG! :D

Evil Alpaca:
I think part of the reason that Samuel L. Jackson could be Nick Fury without an uproar is that he has broken through the color barrier because of his role in other action movies. When we see Jackson on the scene, we don't see a black man; we see Pulp Fiction, Snakes on a Plane, or Mace Windu. The success of his previous films means that we see an actor first and a black man second which is how it should be. Thor created controversy because the actor in question did not have this resume and so it was seen as a black man in a role rather than a talented actor.

It also helps that Marvel Ultimates (Alternate Marvel Universe retelling) did the whole "Nick Fury is black" years before they cast Samuel L. Jackson in the role. While the "original" Nick Fury had less and less to do with the normal Marvel Universe.

Speaking as a once-fan of Avatar: TLA (The TV show, not the movie. Though I love JC's Avatar as well) I have to say one of the big reasons I decided to say "Fuck the movie" was because part of my pathetic youthful innocence was based around the fact that, aside from the slight subtext of racial discrimination (In the show, the whites were the evil guys trying to rule the comparatively darker world) was the fact that race was never really made into an issue with a sledgehammer in the show, like it often is in other forms of media, was refreshing. Hell, once I got over my obsession with the fandom, I still find the show enjoyable to this day (sans the final few episodes, with the annoying Deus Ex Machina ending).

Then the movie came along. For one thing, it was M. Night Shyamalan, which in itself made it bad. But the fact that the good guys had been given to an all-white cast, while their opponents were remade from Nazi-esque white supremacists (in subtext only, of course) were of comparatively darker skin tone. It seemed like such an injustice that the motley crew of protagonists from every group in the show had been reduced to the "Light vs Dark" of every other movie.

It just felt so unjust that I never made an effort to see the movie, even considering I've watched both the Twilight movies (For the lolz! I swear! And one of those wasn't negotiable). Bob's point about minority actors having a comparatively small role in Hollywood today is completely true. Especially considering the general opinion that "Our audience can't cope with a non-white, non-hetrosexual protagonist" (this is especially true in action movies, I've noticed)

If there's anyone who bitched about the actor selection for Thor (which was awesome, by the way) on this forum, I invite you to burn in hell. Most comic book series were started in an age where racial prejudice was still widespread, and as comic book fans are easily the most bitchy fans on the planet, retconning characters to fit a more diverse culture (Like the less-American Superman, or the less-conservative Captain America) is very difficult. The increasing trend of casting minority actors in previously white comic character positions, especially considering the highly-idealized nature of many comic universes, is not the end of the world. I dare you to find a legitimate reason that such a casting shouldn't happen.

brazuca:
You can not name 100 white actors by color.

Er, what?

Umm ...

Eva Green
Seth Green
Robert Redford
Romola Garai (The Crimson Petal and the White)
Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October)
Gene Hackman (Crimson Tide)
Vincent Cassel (The Crimson Rivers)
Scarlett Johansson
Demi Moore (The Scarlet Letter and the Moors were Arabs who occupied southern Spain, so that's sort of "by colour" too)
Vivien Leigh (as Scarlet O'Hara)
Scarlet O'Hara
Ol' Blue Eyes
Ray Teal
Alexis Bledel (Violet in Violet and Daisy)
Violet Zaki
Alicia Silverstone
Sarah Silverman
Jeff Goldblum
Goldie Hawn
Ruby Jerins
Rose McGowan
Rose Byrne
Michael Rosenbaum

We can do it, I'm sure ..... or wasn't that what you meant?

What did you mean?

Wait, so this whole thing basically boils down to being a form of reparations?

I mean, i guess that kinda makes sense actually, but i've honestly never though about it like that.

Loonerinoes:

I will admit I haven't watched this one and I don't think I will - there's little about MovieBob's style I find attractive these days I think, given the amount of rationalizations and excuses for his points of view he's willing to bring up in that smug accent of his. What drew me here, however, is the description that double-standards are sometimes a good thing.

No. They never are. Because what they lead to inevitably is always the youtube link I provide here. And no amount of feeble excuses and rationalizations will change the truth of what happens when the shit really hit the fan, because we decided to say that double standards are cool - all because we refuse to admit that we, as human beings, can't take responsibility for our actions and opinions properly:

I don't think Moviebob is trying to argue that double standards are a "good thing", only that they are to be expected and not a big deal in comparison to previous double standards and therefore no fuss should be given to them, or at least we should understand why it isn't the same thing. I disagree with him on this, but I understand his point of view.

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