By Doc Brown
Over the last several years, I’ve been seeing re-makes of various stories done purposely with casts made up of other ethnicities and genders. There was Little Orphan Annie done with a black cast, the latest all-female Ghostbusters movie, there was an all-black cast for a Cinderella rendition in the 90s, the latest Karate Kid was black, the British “Death At a Funeral” was re-done with a black cast, “Steel Magnolias” the same, Lucy Liu as Watson (albeit, a tv series), a female Iron Man, and the latest is a calendar photoshoot with an all-black Alice In Wonderland cast.
None of this bothers me. It’s fine and dandy. You know me, I’m all about the free market. (So just push the accusations of me being a racist out of your mind. If that’s what you’ve been thinking, you suck at psychoanalysis, so don’t quit your day job, buttercups. Anyway…) I do have to question a couple aspects of this sort of thing.
1. A. None of the originals had race or gender in mind, not overtly and not covertly. For example, with Alice in Wonderland, I don’t think Lewis Carroll chose a white rabbit because he was a white supremacist. And queens have always been female…just stating the obvious. And I don’t think Ackroyd, Ramis, Murray, et. al, were male chauvinists with “Ghostbusters”–they came up with an idea and thought it would be fun to play their creations.
B. Purposely choosing a specific cast based on race or gender is racist and sexist. If the decision is to find talented people that fit otherwise arbitrary roles in that regard, then that choice is racist or sexist. If Carroll or Ramis did so for the same reason, then they would be too, but they can’t because they didn’t unless someone can show me otherwise, which I’m open to seeing, and then they’re guilty of the same. A perfect recent example which does indeed rhetorically smell fishy is Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost In the Shell” playing a robot in Japan, based on a Japanese anime story. Everything else is Japanese, hello! Even if it was a tactic to appeal to a more world-wide audience, that decision would still fall under the racism card because the decision was race-based and not culturally apropros to the story, like Mr. Miyagi being Japanese because he’s, duh, from Japan. Continue reading “Culture Drives Policy, So What Drives Culture?”