Critic Accuses Prince of Persia of "Whitewashing"

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People pull the race card for the stupidest reasons. Like the fact that I didn't vote for Obama *clearly* proves that I'm racist and bigoted against African-Americans.

I can't think of a Persian/Middle Eastern actor off the top of my head. I do, however, know and recognize Jake Gyllenhal. He's a good actor. I like his movies. I'm more likely to go see PoP with him starring than some unknown actor I've never heard of.

It's all about name power, and what a name can do to box office sales. That's it. No one cares about race.

Morty815:

Cheesebob:
Isn't the Prince white in the games?

persians are white dumbass

Your point being?

The only problem I might have with Prince of Persia using Gyllenhall is I want to know if the casting directors even BOTHERED asking Naveen Andrews.

For those of you who do not know who that is, he is Sayid Jarrah from The television show LOST.
He has the look, the voice, the build, and athleticism... he is a highly recognizable actor now thanks to the massive success of Lost, especially in America... and you know what else?

HE IS PERSIAN.

To me, Gyllenhall is a step above a B list actor... Jarhead wasn't the best best movie and damn sure wasn't the best performance, Donnie Darko is a cult favorite, but if we elevated actors based on the awesomeness of cult films, Bruce Campbell would be the most highly sought after actor in Hollywood. Other than that, Brokeback Mountain is a movie I never saw and never will, so I start wondering WHY Jake Gyllenhall was cast as the prince.. He's not even English I don't think? So it feels like even his accent is fake.

My other problem is, Jake's "Prince" seems to be the embodiment of the WRONG type of prince, the one NOT from the Sands of Time (when the series was good) but the dumbass second and third games in that series where he became some sort of refugee from a WWE Monday Night Raw game.

I guess sometimes though, White people do somewhat forget that there ARE other people in the world capable of.. well.. Playing themselves. I don't think anyone would feel comfortable if they cast a white male to play... well.. I was going to use a black main video character, but I can't actually THINK of any other than Cole Train from Gears of War lol. Or perhaps, I'm not sure white people would appreciate if someone made a Drake's Fortune movie starring Wesley Snipes or Don Cheadle as Nathan Drake. Or a New Tomb Raider movie starring Beyonce.

I think the problem these days is that on one hand, we as a society are too obsessed with race and there are those that see racism everywhere, when the majority of people I think just want everything to be colorblind.
But on the OTHER hand, people also want to have a personal identity... and to have pride in their race.. other than um.. white people, who apparently aren't allowed to be proud of their heritage since its so chock full of enslaving, conquering, genocidal campaigns blah blah blah.. We have become far too thin skinned these days.

Still, not using Naveen for this role was just plain criminal.

LightspeedJack:
I think it's more an issue that there are no Middle-eastern stars that can carry a hollywood blockbuster.

It's hard to become a star when the only rolls they will give you are "Turkish street seller no:2" and "Terrorist with RPG"...

Khell_Sennet:

image

Read BEFORE you post.

My gods, this thread had become a trainwreck of stupidity before it hit the fourth or fifth page. Everything anyone has said from about pg.4 on, has already been covered. Each concurrent page just looks like a copy-paste of the previous. Used to be a time when Escapists were a better class of forum-goer. Where people read the posts others wrote before adding their two cents. When a thread would grow from page to page, forming a long debate that continued in a definite direction.

This... This is not Escapist grade posting. This is a bunch of third-graders yelling their opinions on a subject while they plug their ears to what others are saying. This, people, is why the "celebrity" members rarely post anymore, why nobody bothers to present a well-worded beefy post. Put simply, if you can't be bothered to read what others have said before you, piss off, don't post. If you won't give them the time of day, why would they care what you have to say on the matter?

/rant

Thank you.

But sadly, the posts in this thread are in every way completely typical of more recent Escapist posting habits (in general). I mean, based on what I've observed personally.

But on a different note, perhaps I've not read this thread very carefully (I'll admit I gave up on about page 5 after the parrotfest started up), but I've yet to see anyone mention how HORRIBLY WRONG the casting for the evil vizier is. I mean, isn't that the Jewish guy from Lucky # Sleven? He's about the whitest old guy actor around.

WrongSprite:

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?

you basically are saying what I think. Given who the Prince was in the games, I thought Jake was perfect.

If it was never a video game first, but instead came out as solely a movie, than I could actually see them striving to hire a Persian (or at least someone with a middle eastern ethnicity), but, in a sense, the hiring of a white actually makes it more like the game.

Perhaps Ubisoft was racist? I don't think that's true either, though... this was a little bit before games had 30 million dollar budgets and could hire Nolan North ACTUAL voice talent and people who would ensure the game was culturally correct.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I like to call Starship Troopers syndrome: where producers change a minority character (usually a lead) white in an adaptation on the assumption that the audience will either identify better with a white character or won't identify unless said character is white.

The syndrome is named infamously after Starship Troopers, in that in text Juan "Johnny" Rico was Philippino but was changed into a white guy for the travesty that was the film adaptation.

As a minority (Mexican-American for the curious), I am insulted that producers think that a minority character isn't suitable enough to appeal to a large demographic without being reduced into a stereotype (Jive-talking comic relief Black characters or violent gansta-speaking Latinos notwithstanding). It just cheapens not only the story but insults the intelligence of those who know and those who don't. And with rising racial tensions in this great nation between Whites and Mexicans like myself, it only deepens the tensions subtly in implying that only a White person is competent enough for the main role despite the original was a minority.

As long as the studio execs want to ring out as much money as they can out of their IP's, they'll continue to insult our intelligence and appeal to the lowest common denominator...

Moviebob, tear this abomination of a film a new one.

PoP is about money than anything for sure. It's supposed to be summer movie action blockbuster.

As for avatar. this one makes little sense to me. Firstly people who live at the poles north or south are gonna be lighter skinned than others. and even if they aren't half of the characters in the show seemed caucasian anyway (toff,aang, even zuko). Asian themed world or not the characters should look the way they looked in the show (my major complaint is Zuko's scar). My analysis of the kingdoms broke down like this;

Fire = Japan, Earth = eurasia, Water = native american, air = Indian/Buddhist.

I dunno if saying that the characters that look white shouldn't be white just because it's in an "asian-inspired" world most of the time. Sokka and katara shouldn't be white they shouldn't be asain, they should be native american.

HyenaThePirate:
The only problem I might have with Prince of Persia using Gyllenhall is I want to know if the casting directors even BOTHERED asking Naveen Andrews.

For those of you who do not know who that is, he is Sayid Jarrah from The television show LOST.
He has the look, the voice, the build, and athleticism... he is a highly recognizable actor now thanks to the massive success of Lost, especially in America... and you know what else?

HE IS PERSIAN.

...

Still, not using Naveen for this role was just plain criminal.

I think LOST was part of the reason he didn't, if i had to guesss. They just finished their last season and he was probably doing alot for that and couldn't also be the main character in an A-list summer movie.

Dormin111:

chenry:

Dormin111:
Funny how no one complained when Olga Kurylenko (Ukrainian) played a Bolivian character in Quantum of Solace with a fake tan and all.

Russia complained actually.

Got a source for that?

Turns out I misremembered. Russia wasn't complaining about Kurylenko being a Columbian, they were complaining that her character worked with Bond. But then again, the people complaining kind of sound... uhm. INSANE.

Also, I think it's worth pointing out that Kurylenko's character was Half-Russian.

Who cares what his race is. The movie was in English as well, so you'll need someone who's fluent in that language.

Quid Plura:
Who cares what his race is. The movie was in English as well, so you'll need someone who's fluent in that language.

The movie didn't have to be in English. That's kind of the freaking point. If you meant to say the game was originally in English, that seems like the sort of concession to convenience that would have been easy to drop for the movie. I mean, how cool would it be to watch a Prince of Persia movie in a proper Arabic language? Anyone remember Das Boot? Anyone?

Edit: Lifted from a link somebody posted below, and a rebuttal to those who think race plays no part in casting, even today:

"These are expensive movies, and there is a sense that a Caucasian suburban audience won't cross over to see a film with black actors," Chad Hartigan, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, told TheWrap. "But it won't be as hard to get minorities to see 'Iron Man 2.'"

"Television is taking a risk on black actors in a way that film isn't," said an African American screenwriter who declined to be named because she feared it could jeopardize her relationships with studios. "In Hollywood it's 'show me the money,' and there's a perception that films with minorities don't make money. It's too hard to make a living in features these days."

And as I said before, there's the matter of marketable big names, almost always white. Which I think is stupid, but whatever. It is what it is.

Here's another take on the casting situation and this summer's extremely white movies: www.thewrap.com/article/movies-another-white-summer-17558

Seeing how "Persia" doesn't exist anymore, so no true "Persians" actually exist to play the role, this whole thing is invalid. Even if you got someone from Iran to play the role he would still be IRANIAN not Persian.

Critic: "WAAAAAHH! WAAAAH! opression! minorities! WAAAH!"

who gives a fuck, its just a stupid movie, no reason to get all worked up about it.

My first reaction was "Do they have any clue where Persia is?". It's just Iran. Do I expect them to get an Iranian actor - Hells No. He was pretty white in the game, but if they're going to stay this close to the source material he better be British and strip slowly as movie progresses.

I guess I just don't like Jake Gyllenhaal or the chick playing his new James Bond esk lady of the week. I miss Farah D: Darn it she's Farah! Just like it was Bebop and Rocksteady in the second Ninja Turtles Movie!

MatsVS:

Eldritch Warlord:
It's very relevant to a discussion about someone complaining about a white guy playing an ancient Persian, because an ancient Persian would be a white guy. I know that's not exactly common knowledge but it's been said on every page of this thread besides the first.

The simple and obvious fact of the matter is that this is not whitewashing, this is just good casting.

Which brings me back to my earlier point: he would perhaps be white(-ish), but not western.

Gyllenhaal's ancestry is Eastern European, ancient Persians migrated from Eastern Europe to the Iranian Plateau. Didn't I explain that specifically to you already?

Samurai Goomba:

Quid Plura:
Who cares what his race is. The movie was in English as well, so you'll need someone who's fluent in that language.

The movie didn't have to be in English. That's kind of the freaking point. If you meant to say the game was originally in English, that seems like the sort of concession to convenience that would have been easy to drop for the movie. I mean, how cool would it be to watch a Prince of Persia movie in a proper Arabic language? Anyone remember Das Boot? Anyone?

Are you serious? There is something horribly wrong with every sentence you just wrote.

You'd find it extremely hard to market a non-English movie to English speaking people, it would have to at least be dubbed. I really want to watch Pan's Labyrinth and my roommate has a copy, in Spanish. I will not watch that movie with English subtitles, something that forces attention away from visuals in a movie like that (or a movie like Prince of Persia) is simply unacceptable when it would be worlds easier for every single person involved to produce it in a language that the target audience understands. A movie being entirely in a language that the audience most likely doesn't understand is nothing more than a novelty.

The "freaking point" is that an Arab film-critic thinks that an Arab should be cast as the Prince of Persia. The myriad problems with that have already been said multiple times in this thread.

If the movie hopes to capture the spirit of the game then being produced in the same language would be an excellent start. And it really isn't that easy to create a movie entirely in a language that most people on the project can't comprehend. Throwing in some lines in a different language is easy, throwing away everyone's first language isn't.

Proper Arabic language? Since the Prince of Persia games are based on the Achaemenid Persian Empire the proper language would be Old Persian. Old Persian and Old Arabic are about as similar as Chinese and Iroquois.

And no, I don't remember Das Boot.

However, Wikipedia claims that it was a German film. Made by Germans, for Germans, based on a novel by a German, written in German, about a real German, in Germany.

Thank You! Its absolutely ridiculous that they cast Donnie Darko and the chick from The Mummy as the two main roles. I don't think the issue here is so much outright racism, but in psychology there still exists at least a bit of inintentional racism in most people.

I understand the arguement about money, and in truth I think the two issues really fuse together: its about playing to completely sensible people's inherent, unintentional racial feelings.

I think that it plays no small part when you point out that none of the heroes in Prince of Persia are non-European, save the ethnic goofy/stupid comic relief lackey, as opposed to the all non-white villians who are not only ethnically Eastern, but exaggeratedly evil looking (and yes, I recognize that they're supposed to be evil, I'm referring to the cosmetic use of makeup to further darken the villians skin and eccentuate the narrow shape of his eyes). It seems to be the same with the Airbender movie (I don't know enough about it to feel comfortable making judgements about it). It seems, though, that the protagonists are all suspiciously white despite the setting and fighting the villanous kid from Slumdog Millionaire.

Samurai Goomba:
But on a different note, perhaps I've not read this thread very carefully (I'll admit I gave up on about page 5 after the parrotfest started up), but I've yet to see anyone mention how HORRIBLY WRONG the casting for the evil vizier is. I mean, isn't that the Jewish guy from Lucky # Sleven? He's about the whitest old guy actor around.

You're right, he is and he is. But he is also one of the rare actors who, with a bit of makeup and his exceptional talent, can con you into believing the ethnicity of his character so well, you forget who HE is, and see only the character. Some skin bronzing makeup, and we'll be thinking he's the only one in the movie who is actually from the middle east, he's that good. Sir Ben Kingsley being in Prince of Persia is, for me, one of the few actual highlights, and will probably be what convinces me to go see it even if Moviebob says it sucked.

Quite in line with the original thread topic, I can totally see Sir Ben Kingsley as a contender to play "The Mandarin" for Iron Man 3. Likely, we'll get someone like Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, or possibly (I shudder to think of it) Jackie Chan. Now all three of them are great actors, but none of them quite have the look. Really, the ONLY part of the Mandarin's look they have is skintone, which can be faked, and the slanted eyes, also which can be faked. Great actors, right ethnicity, wrong look. To me, I'd rather have a fake Asian with the right look and talent, than a real Asian with the wrong look and the right talent. Look, and tell me if you disagree... Give Sir Kingsley a wig (obviously) and some makeup around the eyes, and we have a match people. The kind of so-obvious, so-perfect match that Sir Patrick Steward was for the role of Xavier.

image

Vote Sir Ben Kingsley for Mandarin - IRON MAN 3

wildcard9:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I like to call Starship Troopers syndrome: where producers change a minority character (usually a lead) white in an adaptation on the assumption that the audience will either identify better with a white character or won't identify unless said character is white.

The syndrome is named infamously after Starship Troopers, in that in text Juan "Johnny" Rico was Philippino but was changed into a white guy for the travesty that was the film adaptation.

Sorry Wildcard, but your reasoning is flawed. Starship Troopers (the film) was an intentional bastardization of one of Robert Anston Heinlein's many excellent novels. The movie in its entirety was a sick parody, a twisting of the original novel. Uwe Bole himself could not have more missed the point if he were given the script. But it wasn't an accidental blunder, the US has had a strong hatred of Heinlein for his political views, indeed many of his works were, or still are banned in various states. The intent of the movie was to take the initial meaning of the book, reverse it, and turn an anti-war message into a sarcastic tale of patriotism and glory. Heinlein must have turned in his grave when the movie released, indeed they could not have made the film as thus had still been alive. Starship Troopers (the film) was a directed personal attack against a dead man, dressed as a summer action blockbuster. Any "whitewashing" of Juan Rico is incidental, and while you trump the race card, I find it funny how I don't hear the feminist side honking off about how Dizzy Florez was changed from a guy to a girl in order to throw in some sex scenes.

I do think it's really odd, I mean the movie is called Prince of PERSIA. It would make sense to have a Persian, but he had an English voice in the games anyway, so I can't really be that up in arms about it.

Side note: is anyone COMPLETELY MYSTIFIED why they are having a movie video game of a movie based on a video game?

"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."

Or, it's just saying that no one cares what ethnicity the star is. Imagine that!

Eldritch Warlord:

MatsVS:

Eldritch Warlord:
It's very relevant to a discussion about someone complaining about a white guy playing an ancient Persian, because an ancient Persian would be a white guy. I know that's not exactly common knowledge but it's been said on every page of this thread besides the first.

The simple and obvious fact of the matter is that this is not whitewashing, this is just good casting.

Which brings me back to my earlier point: he would perhaps be white(-ish), but not western.

Gyllenhaal's ancestry is Eastern European, ancient Persians migrated from Eastern Europe to the Iranian Plateau. Didn't I explain that specifically to you already?

His ancestry - which is probably diluted beyond all meaningful recognition anyway as he is still an american - is meaningless as he is still a product of the west, and thus making this a symptom of a much larger issue; the white bastardization of all aspects of mainstream culture. This is a fact, and I don't see how anyone can possibly argue against it.

I thought Persians and other Middle Eastern people technically were Caucasian.

Khell_Sennet:

Samurai Goomba:
But on a different note, perhaps I've not read this thread very carefully (I'll admit I gave up on about page 5 after the parrotfest started up), but I've yet to see anyone mention how HORRIBLY WRONG the casting for the evil vizier is. I mean, isn't that the Jewish guy from Lucky # Sleven? He's about the whitest old guy actor around.

You're right, he is and he is. But he is also one of the rare actors who, with a bit of makeup and his exceptional talent, can con you into believing the ethnicity of his character so well, you forget who HE is, and see only the character. Some skin bronzing makeup, and we'll be thinking he's the only one in the movie who is actually from the middle east, he's that good. Sir Ben Kingsley being in Prince of Persia is, for me, one of the few actual highlights, and will probably be what convinces me to go see it even if Moviebob says it sucked.

*snipped*

image

Vote Sir Ben Kingsley for Mandarin - IRON MAN 3

I agree. He really does have the right look for Mandarin, and in looking at his face I see what you mean about maybe, MAYBE him being able to pull off the evil vizier part. It's just... I'm positive there are excellent Arabic actors out there with the right look. Maybe a lot of middle eastern actors don't get cast in hero roles, but I REFUSE to believe there is not a great middle eastern villain actor out there with the chops for the role. Still, it's not that I think Kingsley is a bad actor-far from it.

Changing tacks, I realize whitewashing can be seen as of part of this movement of making concessions to movie-going audiences (in the same way everyone speaking English regardless of location or using familiar story structuring are concessions to make American audiences feel more comfortable), but it sickens me. People have mentioned "blackwashing" in this thread, which to me is pretty laughable. Maybe I could give that position credence if the number of times it has happened was even CLOSE to the amount of whitewashing there has been and continues when big-budget Hollywood films get made.

But that's just laying the ground for my next argument: I cannot STAND it when a movie takes place in another country and they all speak freaking English! Okay, so I'm not demanding 100% foreign language in my foreign-location films, but SOMEBODY should be speaking something that requires a subtitle if English isn't the primary language over there. Especially in historical fantasty-type pieces. The reason I brought up whitewashing is that there are so many different and beautiful languages on our planet, and so many unique and interesting-looking people. Hollywood has repeatedly swept all of those fascinating differences aside in favor of a generic, giant film monoculture. That makes me sad.

Khell_Sennet:

wildcard9:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what I like to call Starship Troopers syndrome: where producers change a minority character (usually a lead) white in an adaptation on the assumption that the audience will either identify better with a white character or won't identify unless said character is white.

The syndrome is named infamously after Starship Troopers, in that in text Juan "Johnny" Rico was Philippino but was changed into a white guy for the travesty that was the film adaptation.

Sorry Wildcard, but your reasoning is flawed. Starship Troopers (the film) was an intentional bastardization of one of Robert Anston Heinlein's many excellent novels. The movie in its entirety was a sick parody, a twisting of the original novel. Uwe Bole himself could not have more missed the point if he were given the script. But it wasn't an accidental blunder, the US has had a strong hatred of Heinlein for his political views, indeed many of his works were, or still are banned in various states. The intent of the movie was to take the initial meaning of the book, reverse it, and turn an anti-war message into a sarcastic tale of patriotism and glory. Heinlein must have turned in his grave when the movie released, indeed they could not have made the film as thus had still been alive. Starship Troopers (the film) was a directed personal attack against a dead man, dressed as a summer action blockbuster. Any "whitewashing" of Juan Rico is incidental, and while you trump the race card, I find it funny how I don't hear the feminist side honking off about how Dizzy Florez was changed from a guy to a girl in order to throw in some sex scenes.

Not to mention that (army) women in the original Starship Troopers were treated with respect and admiration, both as combat personnel and in appreciation of their gender. So it's extra insulting. There are some who see Starship Troopers (the movie) as a brilliant parody, I found it a cynical, humorless jab at a beloved old tome. You know, it's not like there weren't other dead guys far more deserving of being mocked. H.P. Lovecraft, for one.

I predict this movie being a piece of garbage either way. Pirates of Persia.

Although I do hate whitewashing I don't think it really counts in this case.

Avatar:The Last Airbender makes me want to bash my head through a wall.

There's famous Persian actors? :o

OH come on its a god damn movie
who cares about the actors if its kick ass good(Which it is) then im giving it 5 stars all the way

Frankly, I agree, if you're going to do a movie with a specific and more obvious choice lead character and you completely go the other way, many people are going to see that as ethnically offensive (Not necessarily racist) and just stupid.

Morty815:

Cheesebob:
Isn't the Prince white in the games?

persians are white dumbass

Persians aren't the 'white washing' Americans the independent directer was talking about.

Dumb ass.

Curious Georgie:
There's famous Persian actors? :o

There's a Persia?

I think Persian actors should have been given auditions.. but at the end of the day, the actor who did the best job should be given the role.

And I think that the game was made for a Western audience right? Not a Persian one. So having a Western-appealing lead is.. logical.

Avatar is a bit tricky... Although it was very Asian in setting, the main characters only sometimes looked Asian. Big blue eyes, light brown hair, squarer faces... Hopefully the movie will have more than just Aang be Asian and it'll be a nice balance.

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