Critic Accuses Prince of Persia of "Whitewashing"

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It's a tough call this one.

Hollywood (And Bollywood, Elstree and Hong Kong Cinema, let's not poke fingers here) tend to cast towards their chosen audience from their chosen cast of actors - which - like it or not, is that ethnic group.

I mean: Braveheart, Robin Hood, Highlander, Hunt For Red October and numerous others haven't been cast to race. It's not so much racism as enforced ethnicity - and that carries over past race, religion and all other concepts of difference.

TsunamiWombat:

Hurr Durr Derp:
image

Oh come on, be fair.

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

True, but then the original characters don't look like Inuits either - they just lived like them. The point is that the movie makes it two white Caucasian heroes and a brown-skinned Indian villain, where they were two brow-skinned Asian heroes and a white-skinned Asian bad guy in the original.

As I said before, I don't think this is deliberate racism. It does however raise some uncomfortable questions, to say the least. Why the swap? It's not like there aren't any good young brown-skinned actors. Hell, Dev Patel (Zuko) probably would've made a decent Sokka. He's got the skin color, he's got the ears, we know he's got acting experience...

oh shuttup.

Yes, I would prefer someone that looked the part, but bitching about it achieves nothing and makes you look like an ass.

there's a small problem with hiring persian actors, and it's that persia hasn't existed for quite some years. it's called iran now. Many iranian people choose to call themselves persian, but mainly because saying you're from iran has connotations these days (so my iranian friend told me).

aside from that...often production teams use the tools (or actors) at their disposal. this works in all areas of acting. a small local theatre group in a sheltered village in britain that wants to put on a production of "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" (a classic) isn't going to be able to find mentally / physically handicapped actors to play the parts. therefore the actors they have have to act. the production team for PoP had a pool of hollywood actors, and if no persians are present, then non-persians have to act.

I love that this thread is a bunch of white kids going "who cares if he's white?"

Delicious.

Incidentally, I never liked the idea of Gyllenhaal in this role. I'd suggest a replacement, but can anyone name an actor from the middle east off the top of your heads? Sayid from LOST is all that comes to mind.

I wouldn't call it racist per se (although it's Disney...), but it seems to be the case that the US filmmakers have lots of problems with stereotypes.

Name one war movie where there's a black guy not in a role of a cynic, raper or a mountain of muscles and stupid - the typical minigun carrier. Okay, name two... I remember one, but just one.

There is *SOMETHING* just a little bit stupid with the all-white protagonists on all of the posters I see lately...

I'm not calling racism or anything, but the producers could think about it a little bit.

It does annoy me a bit to see white people cast in ethnic roles.

I mean, hammy acting is the same in any ethnicity...

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

Nick Fury is black in the Ultimates Universe, and is based on Samuel L Jackson.

Believe it or not, Sammy J as Nick Fury is quite exactly appropriate:

image

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.

I know his face though. Can't place where i've seen it, but he has that /look/.

Anyway, the dude is saying he can't enjoy the film unless the main guy is persian. I sense racism here! But of course it won't get pointed out.

I've seen this movie and there's one hilarious cock-up when the prince is trying to escape through a persian city when a guard spots him and yells "It's the Persian, Get Him" well written script then

Stabby Joe:
I normally don't care so much about such ethnic issues but I did consider it in this case the first time I saw the previews...

...Prince of PERSIA is white... huh.

Spacefly:
Well I think its racist that Mr. Dar thinks a white actor can't act in a persian role. I mean Samuel L. Jackson does a pretty good job at being this guy:
image

Samuel L Jackson's Nick Furry is based off the Ultimate Marvel version, which itself is based off L Jackson.

Wait... are you ACTUALLY saying that Samuel L Jackson in the Iron Man films is based... OFF HIMSELF!?!?

And care to explain this!

image
Nick Fury?!?

rembrandtqeinstein:
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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x98jCBnWO8w = [you tube=x98jCBnWO8w] With no space.

Avatar:Last Airbender whitewashing I can understand multiple lead characters, Persia? though it's the main character I don't really think so.

One of the many reasons I'm not going to see this movie.

SomeBritishDude:
One of the many reasons I'm not going to see this movie.

You're not going to see the movie because the people who made it did more research than you?

Eldritch Warlord:

SomeBritishDude:
One of the many reasons I'm not going to see this movie.

You're not going to see the movie because the people who made it did more research than you?

Excuse me? I've played the game, I know my stuff, it's one of my favourite games actually. Regardless of his accent he's still Persian, hence the title and hence the reason Jake isn't the right guy.

But that's far from my biggest problem with this film.

Maybe you shouldn't be racist and assume that the prince has to be persian just because he lives in persia? Eh? They had all sorts of people in their empire, maybe the Shah adopted a greek guy he kidnapped and had him become the prince.

What do you mean "upcoming"? It premiered last week. Last Wednesday to be exact. I know because I was there and saw it.

Treblaine:
Wait... are you ACTUALLY saying that Samuel L Jackson in the Iron Man films is based... OFF HIMSELF!?!?

Actually, the irony gets even wierder.

In the Ultimates comics, some of the Ultimates are sitting around discussing who would play them in a movie about them.

Tony Stark says 'Robert Downey Jr.' and Nick Fury says 'Samuel L Jackson, of course.'

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.

Check his IMDB. He took it up where the sun don't shine in Brokeback from Heath. That must be bankable to SOMEBODY.

Well, the original Prince of Persia from the first MS-DOS game was white and blonde, so there.

image

The race thing doesn't bother me so much, since as many people have pointed out, the Prince in the Sands of Time series is pretty darn white himself. What DOES bother me is that they're making a video game...of a movie...that is based on a video game.

*head explodes*

Hurr Durr Derp:

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.

I didn't read your post about Nick Fury, but I'm guessing you are talking about the "Ultimate" universe version. For many younger people that isn't as much of an issue, but for older folks like my dad, and I guess me to some extent (34, pushing 35) it's not the version of Nick Fury we grew up with. Especially given the change of backround (making things more current) as opposed to Nick Fury having been around since World War II, and some of the Howling Commandos stories really wouldn't have worked (and they influance some things that happen in 'modern' comics once in a while) with the ethnic change given when the stories were set originally and how things were back then. That gets into another entire discussion though.

When it comes to "Harvey Dent", he was played by Billy Dee Williams (Lando in Star Wars) in the original Batman movie with Michael Keaton. This was before he became Two-Face and he was acting as a straightforward good guy as far as the role went.

Generally speaking I agree that none of it is a big deal, however it's being made into a big deal here simply because it's being done "in reverse" with a white guy replacing a minority character... which is ridiculous.

As I also mentioned in my post nobody bothered to bat an eye when they decided to have a Korean play a Japanese guy either.

When it comes to characters being re-done to be black only occuring with villains, I'm not entirely sure about that, but even if it was the case, I think most people would still have preferred to have them played by actors closer to the original character's apperance, without ethnicity entering into it. It would be more accurate to say it happens more often with villains or minor characters though, since they changed Pete Ross to be black in the first few seasons of "Smallville".

In the end though I don't think it's a big deal. The bottom line is that the guy they picked to play "The Prince" looks like the character from the video games, which was the idea. If someone was going to complain about the portrayal, this really seems like it's a day late and a dollar short so to speak.

What's more when I look at characters like "Blade" and "Spawn" who had movies made out of them, I think it disproves the more paranoid whitewashing rants because neither of those characters were ethnically changed, despite the beating that was admittedly dished out to some other elements of the storylines.

Disney homogenizing the ethnicity of its protagonist? SHOCK! [/sarcasm]

Tiamat666:
Well, the original Prince of Persia from the first MS-DOS game was white and blonde, so there.

image

I stand corrected, and will admit that. It has been a long time. However look at these from "The Shadow And The Flame":

http://www.mobygames.com/game/prince-of-persia-2-the-shadow-the-flame/screenshots

No blonde hair though.

I'd take these accusations of whitewashing a bit more seriously if they weren't in such a hurry to do the same thing to their movies and anime.

SomeBritishDude:

Eldritch Warlord:

SomeBritishDude:
One of the many reasons I'm not going to see this movie.

You're not going to see the movie because the people who made it did more research than you?

Excuse me? I've played the game, I know my stuff, it's one of my favourite games actually. Regardless of his accent he's still Persian, hence the title and hence the reason Jake isn't the right guy.

But that's far from my biggest problem with this film.

Ancient Persians (and the Prince of Persia games are set in ancient Persia) were pale-skinned. I'm not talking about playing the games and portraying them, I'm talking about the fact that it would not be correct to get a modern "Persian" to play an ancient Persian. It is in fact more historically accurate to get a dark-haired European with a light tan to play an ancient Persian.

The games knew this too. Really casting Ghyllenhaal was quite smart of them, the only thing that could make him fit the role better ethnically is having a sharper nose.

Therefore you have something to remove from your list of reasons to not see this movie. It's undoubtedly still long enough for you to skip watching this one.

Therumancer:
I stand corrected, and will admit that. It has been a long time. However look at these from "The Shadow And The Flame":
http://www.mobygames.com/game/prince-of-persia-2-the-shadow-the-flame/screenshots
No blonde hair though.

Hard to say considering he's wearing a turban the whole game.

Coming soon, Roots, the movie, with Leo Dicaprio as Kunta Kinte.

Is it any different to Americans or New Zealanders playing Robing Hood, an English folk hero?

Vault boy Eddie:
Coming soon, Roots, the movie, with Leo Dicaprio as Kunta Kinte.

Gee, I hope not. Nobody could be the moral compass that O.J. Simpson was.

the reason no oen uses "western european" or whatever you said, is that it accuses whites of being unamerican.
african american, asian american, mexican american, native american, what's the key word?
seriously, we need to cut the racial bullshit and just be americans for once.

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?

Has anybody ever HEARD of ... A PERSIAN? Yes, yes, I know--Xerxes and all that--but I mean in the modern day world? You know, given that Persia is currently known as Iran and the two cultures aren't really the same? Because one of them is DEAD? This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. This is like bitching about the guy who played King Leonidas in 300 not really being a Spartan and saying they should've found a Spartan actor.

With The Last Airbender there's a lot more room for argument since there are and have been good Indian actors and since there's really REALLY clear racial differences and trying to pass a white guy off as an Indian is just fucking ridiculous, but... this? Come on. He's a credible actor and he basically LOOKS Persian enough to play a Persian in a summer blockbuster that's about a magical knife that let you change time.

What's more, when are we going to jump on the cast of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly for being almost entirely Italian and not genuinely Mexican? Are we saying that only certain groups of people are allowed to make films about certain cultures, and if you don't have a real live Persian at the ready then you're just plain fucked?

Doesnt matter to me if hes white,black,red,yellow or purple, an good actor should be able to make the story work whatever they may be. I can understand that some people may not enjoy the source material being reworked but sometimes its for the best. I'm actually looking forward to seeing this movie, it has caught my attention.

let's just calm down...and thank god it's not made by uwe boll.

Treblaine:
Wait... are you ACTUALLY saying that Samuel L Jackson in the Iron Man films is based... OFF HIMSELF!?!?

And care to explain this!

image
Nick Fury?!?

Yes in a way...he is based off himself...hes that badass

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