Critic Accuses Prince of Persia of "Whitewashing"

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Critic Accuses Prince of Persia of "Whitewashing"

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Independent filmmaker Jehanzeb Dar says the upcoming Jake Gyllenhaal film Prince of Persia is "insulting" because a Caucasian rather than a Persian was cast in the lead role.

It seems obvious enough that a movie entitled Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time would be about a prince, or at least a princely guy, of the Persian persuasion. But the actor playing said prince isn't Persian at all; he's a blue-eyed dude from Los Angeles named Jake. In Dar's opinion, it's a clear case of "whitewashing" - casting white actors to play ethnic characters.

"This part really needed to go to someone who's Persian," Dar said. "It's not only insulting to Persians, it's also insulting to white people. It's saying white people can't enjoy movies unless the protagonist is white."

Similar criticisms were leveled at The Last Airbender, the upcoming M. Night Shyamalan flick based on the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The original Nickelodeon series was set in an "Asian-inspired world" but three of the four principal actors in the film are white. "This is the standard procedure for Hollywood films, and it really shouldn't be," said Michael Le of Racebending.com. "It's 2010."

While there's no doubt some merit to the complaint, I think it's also fair to suggest that Gyllenhaal was given the role in large part because he's a known commodity who can carry a summer blockbuster. The Last Airbender star Jackson Rathbone may not have quite the same level of fame but he is a Twilight alumnus and that probably counts for something. Maybe there's some latent racism at work here, but I think it's safe to say that a good old-fashioned hunger for money has a lot to do with it too.

Source: Yahoo! Movies

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i didn't really care about the ethnicity as long as the prince goes about his jumpy platformy business

Andy Chalk:
"It's not only insulting to Persians, it's also insulting to white people. It's saying white people can't enjoy movies unless the protagonist is white."

Bullshit, in that case he's saying that he can't enjoy movie unless the protagonist is Persian, which is a similar train of thought. He had an English accent in the games, why not the movie? There's a stupidly big deal made over this, it's pathetic, I mean, PoP is hardly noted for it's realism, no?

This is stupid. It's only called Prince of Perisa because the games it's based on are. If the fact that it was set in Persia was vital to the plot, I would agree that they should have gotten a Persian actor, but, as far as I can see, it isn't.

Isn't the Prince white in the games?

Edit: Yeah okay, I'm wrong. Nevermind!

Meh, I don't mind about "whitewashing", but I guess it's because I'm used to it. Many video game protagonists have American accents even if they're aliens or whatever (like Yahtzee is so keen on pointing out every time he can). I'm just happy that Jake Gylethingie looks like the Prince (and they kept the awesome red belt he wears).

I don't get the hissyfit, seriously.

All I hope is that they have amazing run/jump sequences and that the chemistery between him and Farah are something to enjoy and not some empty filler.

As long as the movie is good and does a fair amount of respect to the series on which it's based i don't really give a fuck what actor plays him..except for Gyllenhaal I just plain don't like him

They are acting you fool.

I dont see you getting up in arms when men act as femalesv in the theatre.
or humans act as vampires.
or people voice giant mechs.
or humans acting as (the blue people from avatar).

not everything has to be realistic does it?

actors should be given the role because well, they are good actors not because of theres a race requirement because of where the film is set.
(note i havent seen the film so i cant judge the quality of the acting itself).

if there seriously saying this, then why arent you complaing becuase they arent speeking Persian (sp?).

SteelStallion:

Andy Chalk:

While there's no doubt some merit to the complaint, I think it's also fair to suggest that Gyllenhaal was given the role in large part because he's a known commodity who can carry a summer blockbuster.

What? Jake isn't known at all, he's only been a supporting actor in a few movies. He's never carried a lead role in a significant movie, let alone a summer blockbuster.

Um, you seem to be forgetting his lead roles in October Sky, Donnie Darko, The day after tomorrow, Jarhead and Brokeback Mountain.

Is there anything these days that can't be seen as racist?

They wanted a big-name actor, for their big budget Hollywood action picture. If you can name a young but well known persian actor who could pull off action roles such as this, let me know.

I doubt they sat around the table and went 'Hey, audiences want white people in their movies! Let's give them that!'.

SteelStallion:

Andy Chalk:

While there's no doubt some merit to the complaint, I think it's also fair to suggest that Gyllenhaal was given the role in large part because he's a known commodity who can carry a summer blockbuster.

What? Jake isn't known at all, he's only been a supporting actor in a few movies. He's never carried a lead role in a significant movie, let alone a summer blockbuster.

Jarhead?
On topic; I agree, it's (almost) the same as casting stupid Russel Crowe as Robin Hood, or Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Homes.

"It's not only insulting to Persians, it's also insulting to white people. It's saying white people can't enjoy movies unless the protagonist is white."

Sorry, random movie industry nonfactor, i'll decide whether i feel insulted or not.

I don't. Now please go away.

According to the OP I should be insulted.

I'm not.

Interesting..........

Who cares if he's white? Do they seriously think that the ones who gave him the role thought "Nooo, no Persians, we hate those bastards"? They chose him, because they think he's a good actor fitting for the role and personality. In fact, they should be called racist for making such a big deal of it. They're so caught up in their fear of racism that they become it themselves.

Oh no the dreaded white people are coming!

Maybe if we had a famous bankable Persian actor in Hollywood he would have been chosen, unfortunately we don't.

I'm more confused about the accents, I mean why an English accent at all?

It was a pretty good accent but why did an American actor have to put on an English accent for a film set in Persia?

Its just a damn movie. We can just "pretend" he's Persian. God, minorities these days...

Also, the characters in Avatar didn't strike me as particularly Asian. The world, yes, but not the characters. And the kid they've casted for Ang (Aang?) looks pretty much as close as you could get to the character. And what is he? White? Oh.

Maybe no Persian actors applied for the role, maybe a few did but they weren't good enough, maybe they weren't well known enough to star in a Summer blockbuster.

I'm pretty sure that I don't know of any particularly famous Persian actors.

I can understand the issue, thougth of it myself actually, and remember there was a similar story up, back when it was announced that ben kingsley would play ghandi. I think it depends on the actor, which means that gillenhal is under the pressure of delivering a great performance to justify his ethnicy.

I find it funny anyone would be willing to defend Hollywood from these claims. They've been whitewashing for the last 50 years or more. It's to the point now where we're actually surprised when they DO keep authentic ethnicity in mind when casting characters for a movie.

That said, there's not much anyone can do about it. And it's more important that the movie is good than that it is accurate. Besides, it's based off a freaking video game. So I'd say it's not going to be either good or accurate (based on the current track record games have).

No one complained about the race-bending in I Am Legend, thus I refuse to give into someone complaining about a white man replacing someone who should not be white.

I don't think Persians back then were all that black after all...

I dunno... I think if this guy wanted to criticise Prince of Persia for not having an authentic protagonist, he should have started with the video games...

Personally, I think the film director (or employer, whoever) was trying to capture the image of the video game character, rather than a Persian prince, when considering what actor to use.

The prince from the games wasn't exactly Persian either. Gyllenhall is actually a pretty good match to the source material.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the guy is doing this for the media attention.

Hell in the games the prince was white, blue eyed, and talked with what seemed to be an english accent.

http://wallpapers.free-review.net/wallpapers/18/Prince_of_Persia_Sands_of_Time.jpg

Above is a picture of the prince from the box art straight from The Sands of Time.

"Maybe there's some latent racism at work here, but I think it's safe to say that a good old-fashioned hunger for money has a lot to do with it too."

The fact that PoP will make more money with a big white star says loads more about the "latent racism" of our society than the racism of Hollywood. Are there any actors that are Persian that can bring in the dough that JG can? Hollywood is, as pointed out, driven by money. And if people are more willing to pay the big bucks to watch a white guy act as something he's not, that says more about the expected fanbase than it does Hollywood. Maybe they'll just go "Avatar" next time, and have CG Persians acted by white actors. That way, Hollywood can be PC, and the crowd can still get their A-list actors.

Prince of Persia was miscast but not because of whiteness...it was miscast because the lead should have been David Belle http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1042642/

Exhibit A:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x98jCBnWO8w (if someone can tell me how to embed the video I would appreciate it)

David Belle IS the prince in real life. If you haven't already see B13, IMO the best action movie of the 00s

Does this mean we can accuse the upcoming Kane & Lynch film of "Blackwashing" (because Jamie Foxx is cast as Lynch), or would that be racist?

FargoDog:
Is there anything these days that can't be seen as racist?

Except this is something Hollywood has been doing since forever.

They wanted a big-name actor, for their big budget Hollywood action picture. If you can name a young but well known persian actor who could pull off action roles such as this, let me know.

"Because you do not know any and cannot name them, they must not exist!" Fail. Maybe I don't know them because, despite their talent, they rarely get cast in starring roles because Hollywood has a bunch of established, marketable young white guys it can cast instead. It's not about racism directly, it's about appealing to all audiences.

I doubt they sat around the table and went 'Hey, audiences want white people in their movies! Let's give them that!'.

You might be surprised. It's obvious some movies (transformers, the star wars prequels) were designed to "appeal" to as many different groups as possible. Usually age groups in this case, but I really wouldn't be surprised if I found out Hollywood was considering how ethnicity would affect audience response. I mean, you've gotta assume that issue comes up all the time in making movies. Not when artists create great films, but when the big budget salesmen for the next Avatar or whatever sit down to brunch.

Jamash:
Does this mean we can accuse the upcoming Kane & Lynch film of "Blackwashing" (because Jamie Foxx is cast as Lynch), or would that be racist?

Seems like a fair point to me, although I love Jamie Foxx.

EthnicityIs that the proper word? matters little to me. As long as the Movie breaks Reality from sheer Awesomeness, i don't care.
Doesn't seem all that likely to me though. I would be glad to be proved wrong though.

Michael Clarke Duncan played the Kingpin in Daredevil ... is that racist towards whites ? If a movie came out about a video game or comic book that had a Persian actor playing a white character I'm they would see it as inspiring ... grow up people... no one cares ... and in the end "no one caring" is what everyone wants right ?

Whilst I ordinarily agree that this is an issue I don't in this one case. The reason I don't is because the guy looks so similar to what is needed. There is a bias towards using white actors in films generally, but this isn't a massively bad case since it's so fantasy driven.

Incidentally, this guy ever look at Bollywood?

No one ever complains about Blackwashing.. Like when Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Nick Fury?

Woodsey:
Maybe no Persian actors applied for the role, maybe a few did but they weren't good enough, maybe they weren't well known enough to star in a Summer blockbuster.

I'm pretty sure that I don't know of any particularly famous Persian actors.

Possibly because Hollywood doesn't hire Persian actors to play Persian characters? Like we're seeing right now?

Eh, whatever. I burned myself out raging hard at the Avatar: The Last Airbender casting, which was failtastic on every front imaginable. Besides, this movie is going to be terrible anyways.

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