Critic Accuses Prince of Persia of "Whitewashing"

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I hate it when critics undermine a movie on something so little. It was a good movie.

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Not exactly the most persian looking character, is he?

Seems s little nit picking to me...as long as ge can play the role I don't care

Exterminas:
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.

Well said. Would it be ideal for a Persian actor to play the Prince? Absolutely. And as soon as you can find one that's a household name, I'm sure Hollywood would be more than happy to cast him in a movie it considers important enough to kick off the summer theater season. (Not sure if folks outside the US know this, but Memorial day weekend - this coming weekend - is considered the "official" beginning of summer.)

Making a videogame movie is a big financial risk to begin with. They're not going to cast an unknown in the lead role, too. Not for a Disney property.

Jordan Mechner (born 4 June 1964)[1] is an American video game designer, screenwriter, author, and filmmaker, best known for creating the Prince of Persia video game franchise.

Independent film maker can stuff it-- game creator is a white american and as such can cast whomever he wants.

Well my thoughts are more or less along these lines:

#1: Why is this only a factor when it's a white guy taking the role(s)? Let's be honest over the years we've seen situations where we've replaced Marvel Comic's "Kingpin of Crime" and DC Comic's "Harvey Dent" with black guys, and very few people made serious complaints other comic purists who wanted the characters to be more like the comic originals. The most recent example of this that I can think of off the top of my head was again from a comic movie series, where people have been casting Samual L. Jackson as "Nick Fury" in most of the current marvel movies.

Yes, things were said, but not on this level. Truthfully I would have preferred a casting more true to the characters in question, especially when it came to "The Kingpin" who is mockingly called "Cue Ball" in the comics by certain characters, but overall it wasn't the deal breaker, even when the movie itself was pretty bad.

Another pretty recent example was when they decided to cast the Korean pop star "Rain" as the lead in the movie "Ninja Assasin". I asked a few questions about this because I thought it was a little odd given that the Japanese and Koreans were not known to get on especially well and I had wondered if this was going to be an integral part of the movie with all of the hype about a "Korean pop sensation", but nope, he was playing a Japanese guy. Nobody really cared, including me, I was just wondering because I thought it might have added some depth to an otherwise shallow seeming movie (which I have yet to see).

#2: I can't think of any Persian actors on this level off the top of my head, never mind any who could carry this role. What's more it should be noted that the guy playing the role looks the part of the character from the game, and I vaguely remember the prince was even blonde in the very first game... (going waaay back)

It's sort of like saying that Triple-H should play "Thor". Honestly, I think he looks the part of the comic book character pretty much perfectly (and I'm saying this without being a fan, or really following pro-wrestling), but as people point out "can he act?". I suppose a good movie producer could send him to get acting lessons, and train him for the part, but it would be a craps shoot as to whether a good movie could be produced... casting a Persian guy who looks like the video game character, should one be found, and then training him to (hopefully) act, would be even more of a craps shoot because he wouldn't even come with the name recognition of "Triple H"... which would have people flocking to see the movie just because it's him, and people defending him even if his acting was akin to an old Steve Reeves Herculese movie (at a time when looking the part was more important than acting, as odd as it is I sort of feel he WAS Hercules physically, he just couldn't really act).

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."

I think that's ridiculous. I get what he means, Hollywood (like games) often chooses to cast a grizzedly handsome white 20-30s guy as the lead, but as long as he's qualified it's okay with me. If anything, I think the attention to race is making the matter worst.

If an actor is good at portraying a role it doesn't matter what race or gender he/she is. It's like the portrayal's in 'I'm Not There'. Bob Dylan was played by mixed race and mixed gender actors, just so happened that a woman played him best. That's true acting. As long as you fit the part, who cares?

Why are people complaining about him being white he looks alot like the character from the game and isnt that the intent, really chill the hell out its called acting

"Never go full retard" as they say.

It's based off a game that's loosely based on Persia with English accets made
by French people. It's not trying to be very accuret.

Is this really a big deal? Okay, yes, it is kind of stupid to cast white people into non-white roles, but really does it really matter as long as the movie is at least entertaining or not? People are judging movies on being shit or not for the most retarded and blatant reasons I can possibly fathom. "Ooohhh! Inglorious Basterds sucked because there were too much subtitles!" Bull. Just bull. If you judge the actual movie's quality over these kinds of petty things, and even say that its "insulting" because of said petty excuses, then you are pretty sad.

People need to get a life, and by people I mean the author of this article. I don't care as long as the movie is entertaining and is somewhat connected to the games.

To be fair, Prince of Persian doesn't even look very persian.

It's a movie based on a game, everybody calm down. This isn't some racial conspiracy, it's just the studios attempting to sell their product as best they can, and Jake Gyllanhal is a well-known actor.

The Prince is white in the games.

And I think that Mr. Gyllenhaal actually looks like the prince does. Or a highly accurate portrayal at least.

Ok. Consider me the average (or above-average, as I see a LOT of films) movie-going public.

Does it bother me that a white man is playing a Persian character? Not at all. I've seen Chinese actors cast as Japanese characters and vice-versa, I've seen "black" actors have their skintone lightened to look more Mediterranean than African. Robert Downy Junior played a black dude in Tropic Thunder. And yes, I've seen good old whitey play everything from Native American, to Asian, and now yes Persian. The thought that myself or anyone else should be shocked or offended by an actor/actress playing someone of a different race is a retarded double-standard. Where were the protests that Hugh Jackman, an Aussie, got the starring role in X-Men as the very Canadian character "Wolverine"? Where were the minority groups crying out that Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian by birth, was playing a Russian role in "Red Heat"?

If it is racist for a white man to play a Persian, it is just as racist for a White Irish man to play the role of any other flavor of white than what he really is (Irish). After all, race is not just skintone, it's nationality. Someone Persian-looking won't work either, because if you say that the film is being racist for having a white guy play a Persian, then use an Israeli for example, now YOU'VE become the racist. YOU would be saying a white person isn't acceptable, but anyone who looks "brown" is, and that's racism too my friend.

Now let us ask for a second, WHY a Persian didn't get the role as the Prince of Persia...
One - It's an American-made movie primarily developed for American audiences. Saying nothing about this misconception that the lead must be white (utter tripe), the American movie-going public expect actors they KNOW. Yes, you can throw a curveball now and then, use a B-List actor, a rising star, or a total unknown. But such things work best for less mainstream films. "Safe" action films are about known quantities, they don't like surprises.

That of course leads into the next question. Two - Who else could play the part? Name me one Persian actor, of appropriate age/build/gender/look, who has the talent to pull off this kind of film, and speaks fluent English. Keep in mind, they have to be actual Persian (Iranian), a "Persian-looking" choice who isn't actually Iranian won't cut it. I for one cannot think of anyone. Owning hundreds, going on thousands of movies on DVD, having seen thousands of films, I can't name one Iranian actor to fill the role. That's coming from someone with MovieBob level knowledge of the talent available, how would common Joe moviegoer do any better?

Why is the Prince of Persia white? Because of the talent available, that's why. Is it racist? No. Is it insulting? No. Are a pack of easily-agitated retards causing a big stink just for the hell of it? YES!

1) Gyllenhaal looks a lot like the Prince- especially with his facial features.
2) A large portion of modern-day Iranians (Iran used to be Persia) consider themselves white.

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Because this guy looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO PERSIAN! He's a walking stereotype!

/sarcasm

Everything is racism these days.

The prince one could be attributed to screw ups throughout the series. The Avatar screw up is just plain racism.

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

That character was based on the Marvel Ultimate Fury, who was based on (guess!) Samuel L. Jackson. It's a different character from the classic Marvel 616 Fury.

OT: I dunno. On the one hand, a good story doesn't stop being good if the main character's skin color is different. On the other hand, examples like The Last Airbender are pretty damn blatant.

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Gasp!
The protagonist is white!
That's racism!

There's no irony in this.

Who cares?

It's a Disney movie, which means it's automatically unwatchable tripe.

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.

Tell that to the ladies. I will amuse myself while they rip you apart with their razor sharp fangs.

At least the lead for Avatar is an Asian kid, right?

It's not so much whitewashing as it is Americanization. Even movies where the main character is supposed to be white, they change their nationality to American. Just watch U-571, the movie about a bunch of British American soldiers stealing the Enigma machine from the Germans.

Hurr Durr Derp:

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

That character was based on the Marvel Ultimate Fury, who was based on (guess!) Samuel L. Jackson. It's a different character from the classic Marvel 616 Fury.

OT: I dunno. On the one hand, a good story doesn't stop being good if the main character's skin color is different. On the other hand, examples like The Last Airbender are pretty damn blatant.

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Oh come on, be fair.

How many Inuit child actors can there be to play those two?

Eldritch Warlord:
Good to see that people never read these threads.

Me and another person have already explained the very relevant historical reason for an ancient Persian prince being played by a white actor.

Personally I was joking.

But you can't state for sure what people of a period looked like, especially when fiction is the basis, just look at the debates that raged before the idea of the "black Pharaohs" was take to be legitimate nor hold movies to what a person from a particular era looked like. Without even bringing race into it, I always look at films based in the French Revolution or Middle-Ages England and think... "Where are all the face-cancers? Why is everyone so tall? How come all this starving commoners aren't emaciated?

Its all a bit stupid.

On a side note to the more important issue of race equality...is it any good? Or is it too much of me to ask this of a critic...?

Therumancer:
#1: Why is this only a factor when it's a white guy taking the role(s)? Let's be honest over the years we've seen situations where we've replaced Marvel Comic's "Kingpin of Crime" and DC Comic's "Harvey Dent" with black guys, and very few people made serious complaints other comic purists who wanted the characters to be more like the comic originals. The most recent example of this that I can think of off the top of my head was again from a comic movie series, where people have been casting Samual L. Jackson as "Nick Fury" in most of the current marvel movies.

It's funny that you should mention those examples. First of all, the Nick Fury thing is a non-issue, as I explained in my earlier post.

Your other two examples are what's interesting. In Prince of Persia, the Persian hero is made Caucasian. In your examples, the white villains are made black.

Not saying it's deliberate racism (I don't know anything about a black Harvey Dent, but I do know that the black Kingpin had nothing to do with skin color), just that they're a bit... uncomfortable examples in the context of allegedly racist race-swapping shenanigans.

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

indeed. tanned though.

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.

Donnie Darko, The Lovely Girl, The Good Girl, Bubble Boy, Jarhead, Brokeback Montain, etc etc etc.

Just because you haven't watched a movie with him in it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Therumancer:
The most recent example of this that I can think of off the top of my head was again from a comic movie series, where people have been casting Samual L. Jackson as "Nick Fury" in most of the current marvel movies.

Fury in the movies is the Ultimate version of Fury. The Ult. Fury looks exactly like Jackson.

I'm not going to immediately dismiss the claims. Calling racism does not need to mean that your accusing someone of hating a race. It can also simply mean that you think that it would be better to have actors play characters that represent the race of the character, particularly when the cultural heritage is important to the story. In The Last Airbender, for example, there's a very strong Asian influence. Casting Asian actors would not be hard, especially since the Actors arn't terribly recognizable to begin with. Criticizing those choices is valid, but saying that there is a component of hatred would be going too far. Though I can understand concern at the casting at first, Prince of Persia is fundementally different. First off, big name, recognizable actors bring in money, and I can't think of a Persian actor who fits the bill. Secondly, and more importantly, Jake resembles the Prince pretty well. And in this case, being true to the game is more important then being true to Persian culture.

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

i thought so too but i guess not

on topic: it seems a bit silly to go after a movie because the main character is suppose to be a certain race. What bothers me is why alot of certain voices are usually american
i know Yahtzee as pointed it out but it makes sense

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

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.

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.

Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko

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?

This is one of those times where I would like to be as creatively offensive as I could, but this is not the site to do that *sigh*. What I will say is that Jehanzeb Dar is full of shit and is a racist. The colour of the person's skin should not matter. To make him look the part movies use make-up.

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