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How do all of you feel when they race swap characters?

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I've had to remove the last five or six posts. Nothing offensive or insulting to anyone, I wouldn't think, but stuff that had left the movie-related part of the topic.

Obviously the initial topic is about film, and naturally abuts political and cultural issues, but in pure content terms (even if the posts are civil and substantive and all that), the distinction is between "is still about movies" and "is just about race/gender in general." A fine line, maybe, but one that has to be drawn somewhere.



I knew you hated the dude. I think thatís my first post ever removed. Iím getting close to Sexy Celebrity status.
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This seems to be true but I don't understand it. I often get along, relate to, and have more in common with people of other races. I think the concept of "people like me" is seriously flawed.
This reminds me of how kid sidekicks came about - and why they worked, but only to an extent.

The idea was that since comic books target audience was boys, they'd create boy characters that boys would assumedly relate to.

Robin was the first (followed by a slew of others), but it immediately became questionable as to what sort of adult guardian Batman was to involve a child in crimefighting - he was almost as crazed & irresponsible as a legal guardian as he was as the vigilante who threw criminals off rooftops... that he started out as.

(Not only was Robin supposed to draw more boy consumers, but he was supposed to soften the once-lethal Batman of the time. This was another double edged sword because while it humanized Batman to take on a junior partner, it also made people question how fit of a guardian could Bruce Wayne be if he's willing to put a 10-year-old in the middle of gun fights... what kind of "hero" would do that?).

Stan Lee wrote about how kids might be able to relate to kid sidekicks' ages, but they still wanted to be the adult hero, not the kid sidekick. Lee hated the idea of kid sidekicks and not because of the logistics of putting kids in danger. He felt kids still wanted to relate to (or be) the adult hero - thus he along with Steve Ditko created Spider-Man - where the teenaged boy WAS the hero - he didn't have a side-kick and he wasn't one. The idea worked. It was the best of both worlds... or did kids just think a guy with spider powers was cool?

I'm free associating here a bit (so bear with me)... I've seen some recent videos regarding Disney's new live-action Little Mermaid, and they have clips of kids saying "she looks like me!"

But narrating some of these clips are black commentators calling it bogus (claiming parents put the kids up to saying these things for the videos). Their reasoning is that when they were kids they didn't watch a Disney film or see Superman and say, "I can't relate to this character because they are a different color than me." They just enjoyed being entertain and wished they could fly like Peter Pan or Superman. They didn't sit there and say "I wish I was white like Peter Pan or Superman." Conversely, they didn't see their first black hero and say "Now I can never relate to or follow Superman again because he's not black like me."

What they were saying is that the whole "looks like me" is a contrivance to try to justify changing the races of established characters, but that in reality kids don't identify with or relate to fictional characters based solely on skin color (unless they are taught to).



Victim of The Night
"How do all of you feel when they race swap characters?"

Wow. You really seemed to go out of your way to misinterpret my post and put me on the defensive. I don't know what to tell you. Except to reiterate that it was the one and only time my experience would apply to the question posed by the OP.
Nope, whatever it was that came across the wrong way, I thought I was agreeing with you. I also grew up with that show and the fact that they chose a black actor to play the lead was no issue at all, and I was saying that someone as naturally suave or cool as Denzel would have been wonderful (though maybe he was already too old) but Will Smith Will Smithed up the joint and made it seem incredibly silly, which is what I thought you were saying.
If I did misinterpret, my bad, that's on me. I thought I was agreeing with you but maybe I misunderstood what you were saying.

Edit - Oh, wait, I see what happened, the wording in my post is really weird, I think that happened because I was putting it one way and then decided to put it a slightly different way but when I edited it, I left some of the words from the old part in so it came out weird and not really what I meant. That's my bad.
FWIW, if you ever think I'm trying to bust yer ballz in anything other than fun, I promise you, I'm not.



Nope, whatever it was that came across the wrong way, I thought I was agreeing with you. I also grew up with that show and the fact that they chose a black actor to play the lead was no issue at all, and I was saying that someone as naturally suave or cool as Denzel would have been wonderful (though maybe he was already too old) but Will Smith Will Smithed up the joint and made it seem incredibly silly, which is what I thought you were saying.
If I did misinterpret, my bad, that's on me. I thought I was agreeing with you but maybe I misunderstood what you were saying.

Edit - Oh, wait, I see what happened, the wording in my post is really weird, I think that happened because I was putting it one way and then decided to put it a slightly different way but when I edited it, I left some of the words from the old part in so it came out weird and not really what I meant. That's my bad.
FWIW, if you ever think I'm trying to bust yer ballz in anything other than fun, I promise you, I'm not.
No worries Wooley. After rereading it a couple of times I more or less figured out the point you were making.That's why my followup post. Overreaction on my part.



JFK canít be portrayed as black ...
Bubba Ho-Tep?



Race swapping is ok except when itís not. JFK canít be portrayed as black & MLK canít be portrayed as white. Other than examples like this, race swapping is fine IMO.
I think it goes much farther than JFK and MLK. Racial identity is important to a lot of characters and, can get downright essential when applied in some situations, time frames, behavior, etc. and a lack of racial identity could get bizarre with others.

Actual historical characters - e.g., we all know (or should know) that George Washington, our first president, was a white slave owner. He's an interesting historic character in that he was intensely ambivalent about slavery, but nevertheless, he was a white slave owner. Any alt-race portrayal misses the point, which is exactly that.

Being a history geek, as well as a movie geek, I could drone on all day about the place of some actual historic characters in the history of racism, but it becomes absurd to try to change what they were, for better or worse. It's less for fictional characters, but for a lot of historic characters, much of what they were about was race.

So, do we have a black George Wallace or a Japanese Franklin Roosevelt, or how about a white Jackie Robinson?

When it's part of the story, it's an important part of the story, and color-blind casting gets downright absurd. We need a lot of social evolution before our culture forgets how all of this played out.



Actual historical characters - e.g., we all know (or should know) that George Washington, our first president, was a white slave owner. He's an interesting historic character in that he was intensely ambivalent about slavery, but nevertheless, he was a white slave owner. Any alt-race portrayal misses the point, which is exactly that.

Not necessarily. And there is not just one point (i.e., "the point") relevant to discussing a person's role in history. Alternate racial depiction may invite people to stand in the shoes of Washington to help them get "a" point of an art work (e.g., to come to know the man who learned the hard way how to manage the logistics of defeats, the man who refused a crown to ensure that the American experiment in democracy could have its chance). White Man's Burden (1995) attempts to encourage understanding via racial role-reversal, not unlike gender-swap flicks like Just One of the Guys (1985). Indeed, we might learn the complicated history of race in America by inviting different demographics to imagine themselves as the slave-owners. And why not? There is no essential connection between whiteness and slavery. Human history is a history of slavery. There is not a part of the globe which is free of its stain. In early America the slavers happened to be white.



Someday, when light white skin and dark brown skin are basically gone--and they are on the way out as so-called "races" continue to mix liberally--the only option will be to cast a mocha-colored person as Washington or as an African slave fresh off the boat. I wish them well. And I hope that they can see what was good in the values of the Enlightenment, which are pulsing in our founding documents, which eventually led to the end of slavery. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and so it has always been.



Another case where race-altering in movies may have had unforeseen results if one were to delve beneath the surface:

The abomination that has come to be known as Fant4stic (2015).

We could assume they changed the Human Torch's ethnicity for whatever reason, but he was a character with relatives in the movie which made explanations for his sibling being a different color a bit more complicated than necessary.

Traditionally the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) was the younger brother of the Invisible Girl (Sue Storm) - to emphasize this fact they were both depicted with the same blond hair and blue eyes.

But for this particular movie they chose a black actor to play Johnny and a white actress to play Sue. And it wasn't a case of they chose an actor who happened to be black to play a character supposed to be white, but a whole narrative was written around this Johnny's ethnicity because his biological father, Dr. Franklin Storm, was a significant part of the story and he was also black.

The official backstory for this movie version to explain why Johnny & Sue were different ethnicities was that Johnny's parents, (the Storm's), were black - they adopted Sue (a white orphan) when she was an infant and Johnny was their natural child.

So what, you ask? At the time I did a little research on orphan & adoption statistics - I don't remember the exact numbers, but the facts were that white infants are something of a commodity (to white parents seeking to adopt) - there are often waiting lists for white infants. Conversely, a sad fact is that black orphans far outnumber white ones and thus go without families at a far greater rate than white orphans that are more readily adopted. Orphanages are desperate for anyone to adopt black children.

So, with that in mind, let's consider Dr. Storm and his wife - he's a renown scientist and well-to-do. But instead of he and his wife adopting one of thousands of black infants that need a home they adopt a white orphan! Is this what a black couple seeking to provide an orphan child with a home would do?

What are the odds that a wealthy black couple seeking to adopt would choose a white child (who we know has far greater prospects for adoption & would probably be on a waiting list for wealthy white parents) over their pick of thousands of black children they could provide a future for when orphanages are desperate to find homes for black orphans?

The whole scenario rang ridiculous... and all this complicated confusion surrounding a backstory that never had to exist just to force a race change to a major character?

Heck, it would've been easier to just have Reed (Mr. Fantastic) or Ben (the Thing) or even Victor (Dr. Doom) played by a black actor since none of them had any family connections as major characters in the movie.

In the overall scope, the race-altering ended up being the LEAST of this movie's problems - to Marvel fans, this movie was sheer blasphemy on every level and made its 3 predecessor films look like classics!



Someday, when light white skin and dark brown skin are basically gone--and they are on the way out as so-called "races" continue to mix liberally--the only option will be to cast a mocha-colored person as Washington or as an African slave fresh off the boat. I wish them well. And I hope that they can see what was good in the values of the Enlightenment, which are pulsing in our founding documents, which eventually led to the end of slavery. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and so it has always been.
Social evolution and dominant attitudes tend to lag way behind laws, courts and visionary attitudes of people who are in front of the evolutionary curve.

That's especially pungent when you think of movies, which, after all are intended as a profit making product, where profit will depend on whose butts show up in the seats in the theater and who pays to stream the product. Putting it in that context, I'd love to sit in the room when marketers in studio offices make their calculations about who will pay to see a movie and how the determines a budget. They'd be fools to not think about who will be offended, who will like it, who won't see it, and who has an attitude about it. I don't think they're fools but they also don't always get it right.

It's fairly cringe-worthy to recall that most un-Jewish of actors, Charlton Heston, who got to play Moses and Judah Ben Hur, as well as a host of other very Anglo-Saxon actors who played in ancient world epics as Greeks, Romans, biblical figures, etc., not to mention blackface white actors.

I'm sure this is probably a short list but, it's obvious that we are not finished with this yet...color-blind casting still is going to be controversial, regardless of the skill of the actor -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...d_in_blackface



Social evolution and dominant attitudes tend to lag way behind laws, courts and visionary attitudes of people who are in front of the evolutionary curve.

That's especially pungent when you think of movies, which, after all are intended as a profit making product, where profit will depend on whose butts show up in the seats in the theater and who pays to stream the product. Putting it in that context, I'd love to sit in the room when marketers in studio offices make their calculations about who will pay to see a movie and how the determines a budget. They'd be fools to not think about who will be offended, who will like it, who won't see it, and who has an attitude about it. I don't think they're fools but they also don't always get it right.

It's fairly cringe-worthy to recall that most un-Jewish of actors, Charlton Heston, who got to play Moses and Judah Ben Hur, as well as a host of other very Anglo-Saxon actors who played in ancient world epics as Greeks, Romans, biblical figures, etc., not to mention blackface white actors.

I'm sure this is probably a short list but, it's obvious that we are not finished with this yet...color-blind casting still is going to be controversial, regardless of the skill of the actor -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...d_in_blackface

Again, a lot depends on the perceived intention. I cringe when I see old American films with WASPy actors playing Chinese/Japanese characters. I cringe because they, as a matter of policy, typically excluded actors in Hollywood who actually were Chinese/Japanese, because such depictions were all too often race-based caricatures, and because there were some low intentions in many these depictions (e.g., to portray the other as a buffoon and/or as a beast).



On the other hand, when a Japanese high school works with what they have when they do a production of MacBeth or when a Bollywood production house features a person from Punjab as the U.S. President, I probably won't care.



The biggest question is, I think, "Why are you doing that?"



On the other hand, when a Japanese high school works with what they have when they do a production of MacBeth or when a Bollywood production house features a person from Punjab as the U.S. President, I probably won't care.
It could happen in real life without the help of Bollywood. The new Prime Minister of the UK is of Indian descent.
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It could happen in real life without the help of Bollywood. The new Prime Minister of the UK is of Indian descent.

Sure, and I would also be fine if President Lincoln were depicted in a Bollywood production by the same person.



Race swapping is ok except when itís not.

I'll agree with that part.
I don't think we can forget another bottom line, which is whether this group or that will cause the movie to make a profit, hit a target audience, work with product placement, create a media swarm that promotes or damns it. Producers and financial backers make a guess on this, like on whether Black Vikings or ancient Romans played by Asians will draw or repel an audience, sell tickets, streams and disks.

I admit that, having someone in a movie that looks like me is a factor in my interest. It's not the only factor, but I can't ignore it. I doubt that anybody else would either and money is never NOT a factor.



Just came across this clip accidentally, but it reminded me of this thread = pretty much the same topic.
Despite how you may feel about Bill Maher, there's a lot to think about here...




Not necessarily. .....Indeed, we might learn the complicated history of race in America by inviting different demographics to imagine themselves as the slave-owners. And why not? There is no essential connection between whiteness and slavery. Human history is a history of slavery. There is not a part of the globe which is free of its stain. In early America the slavers happened to be white......
Yeah, for sure...there's no absolute connection between race and slavery, except that this is what happened in the US after the American Revolution (some few exceptions before that). That's why I distinguish between actual historic characters and fictional ones. If you create some sort of George Washington, identified that way, who was black and didn't own slaves and led the army in the revolution and also do Valley Forge, Yorktown, etc, you're fictionalizing a historical character as much as you would if you fictionalize an Abraham Lincoln who didn't get shot and did serve 4 more terms (not unconstitutional at that time), so you might as well make him a vampire hunter too.

I found Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter to be enjoyable because of its silly fiction, but a black George Washington actually being portrayed as the historic character in a presumably "true story" is a bit of a stretch, since race was part of Washington's story and everybody at that time knew it. I'd be curious to see it but my expectations would be low. I think I'd rather do a sequel to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.



Yeah, for sure...there's no absolute connection between race and slavery, except that this is what happened in the US after the American Revolution (some few exceptions before that). That's why I distinguish between actual historic characters and fictional ones. If you create some sort of George Washington, identified that way, who was black and didn't own slaves and led the army in the revolution and also do Valley Forge, Yorktown, etc, you're fictionalizing a historical character as much as you would if you fictionalize an Abraham Lincoln who didn't get shot and did serve 4 more terms (not unconstitutional at that time), so you might as well make him a vampire hunter too.

I found Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter to be enjoyable because of its silly fiction, but a black George Washington actually being portrayed as the historic character in a presumably "true story" is a bit of a stretch, since race was part of Washington's story and everybody at that time knew it. I'd be curious to see it but my expectations would be low. I think I'd rather do a sequel to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.
How did you feel about the play Hamilton?



Everytime I start to type something I end up deleting it. So go ahead and finish my post for me:

The real problem here is....
......that we are a long way from having a definitive answer to something that is an emotional issue. Being the fountain of wisdom as well as artistic and historical judgement that I am, if I can't figure this out, I doubt that anybody else can. We're just going to have to blunder our way around this for the next century or two.



How did you feel about the play Hamilton?
I like it as musical entertainment, but musicals are generally not the best source for historical correctness since they are, after all, written by musicians rather than historians and written for an audience that's looking for snappy songs and great costumes. I'm thinking that it's parallel to watching the Wizard of Oz so you can learn about how tornadoes work or how monkeys can fly.