Why does society want actors to be similar to roles they are playing?

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I feel that society nowadays, more than ever, wants actors to be too similar to the role they are playing, and if they aren't they get offended. One article that I think maybe had gone too far, is this one I read:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/04/enter...rnd/index.html

Basically they don't want Scarlett Johansson to play a transgender character, cause she is not transgender in real life.

But that what acting is! Playing a part that you are not. I mean when Rain Man came out for example, no one complained about Dustin Hoffman playing an autistic man, rather than getting a real autistic actor.

When Milk came out, Sean Penn plays a gay man, but no one complained about him not being gay in real life, in order to play the role.

In The Crying Game, when Jaye Davidson played a transgender character, audiences didn't care back in the 90s and they accepted it as acting.

It's acting and pretending. So why are people so up in arms about this today? It's like complaining that Bradley Cooper played a sniper in a war, when he himself never had to kill in any wars. It's acting.

So I don't get what the big deal is. And the reason why they get actors who may be so dissimilar to the roles they are playing is because of celebrity box office. That is how movies make money. What's wrong with that? Am I missing something?



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Basically they don't want Scarlett Johansson to play a transgender character, cause she is not transgender in real life.
When that subject comes up I always like to mention Steven Mackintosh in Different for Girls (1996) as a great example of an actor playing a transgender woman.

But that what acting is! Playing a part that you are not.
I couldn't agree more.

In The Crying Game, when Jaye Davidson played a transgender character, audiences didn't care back in the 90s and they accepted it as acting.
We're definitely in the realm of androgyny though, with Davidson – which came in extremely handy in Stargate, and I think that's worth bearing in mind

The focus is very much on diversity and representation now, and that's why there's this narrowing of scope when it comes to acting. They should realize that it can end up being restricting rather than liberating.

Look at George Takei's reaction to Star Trek's Sulu recently being retconned as gay. Takei is gay but was playing a heterosexual character. He thought Sulu should have remained as such and that a new, gay character could have been introduced into the rebooted Star Trek. Simon Pegg obviously chose to ignore that advice (I don't know why) and opted to change an established character instead.



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We already had a (now-closed) thread about the Scarlett Johansson controversy here, but I think my first post sums up the "big deal".

That's the key issue with films of this nature - creators that are unable and/or unwilling to treat the material with the respect it deserves, which honestly sounds like it's more likely to dilute the projects in question by having people disregard the very communities they're supposedly trying to represent and thus create hollow films in the process. That was the case with Dallas Buyers Club creating a fictional trans woman to serve as a foil for Woodruff (whose own bisexuality was erased from the finished film for the sake of bigot-redemption cliché), yet Vallée didn't even try auditioning actual trans women for the role. As such, films like that want to have their cake and eat it too - they want to appear progressive in building stories around the plight of marginalised communities but they ultimately compromise their own work by wanting to give award-baiting "brave" roles to privileged stars who care more about challenging themselves (and earning critical recognition) than doing right by the subject matter. This is the kind of phenomenon that Tropic Thunder aimed to mock by having a white actor "challenge himself" by undergoing surgery to play a black lead character while an actual black actor was relegated to playing a supporting role.
As for the matter of claiming that "nobody complained" about examples from decades ago (maybe the people who did have complaints weren't as easily heard in previous years?), maybe that's part of the problem. While there is nuance to the issue (does saying gay characters should only be played by gay actors mean that said actors would effectively be forced to out themselves for work?), I do think that there's a kind of complacency that should be questioned, especially regarding how much one can afford to compromise authentic portrayals for the sake of box office.
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Nostalgia Critic did a video about this. I think he ended it by saying sarcastically, something along the lines of, "Shouldn't this alien be played by a real alien?"



Yeah, we talked about this before. I mean, it was yet another discussion where everyone got their initial opinion in and then the whole thing ended when I asked some obvious follow-up questions, but what else is new?
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Just looked at the other thread, loved this comment by some clever person

What's next, white bread actors can only play sandwiches. We need to see people as people, not as labels!



why does society want actors to be similar to roles they are playing

I love how you always barely manage to not sound disingenious when making those threads
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Oh, sorry I didn't know it was talked about before.



And the reason they don't have light in the theater is because you are there with your fantasy. The person up on the screen is doing all the things that you want to do. They're kissing a woman you want to kiss. Hitting the people you want to hit. Being brave in a way you want to be brave. -Marlon Brando in Listen to Me Marlon



Honestly, I kinda hope that people who say stuff like "aliens should play aliens" are just memeing because if that's not the case then I'm legitimately concerned.

Transgender actors and actresses exist and it's a disrespect to not take them into account when it comes to portraying transgender characters. Do you think that being transgender is like having a job or wearing whatever clothes or hairstyle? Of course people are pissed. Are you okay with blackface and yellowface? I assume not. And it's true that till very recently there was zero social awareness of the issue with transgender roles but guess what, society and its moral landscape change. I know that back in the 90s having cis people portraying trans characters was not an issue at all, okay, and back in the 50s you could have a white actor blackfaced and dressed up as a cheyenne indian and nobody would complain. That doesn't mean it's okay nowadays.



Honestly, I kinda hope that people who say stuff like "aliens should play aliens" are just memeing because if that's not the case then I'm legitimately concerned.

Transgender actors and actresses exist and it's a disrespect to not take them into account when it comes to portraying transgender characters. Do you think that being transgender is like having a job or wearing whatever clothes or hairstyle? Of course people are pissed. Are you okay with blackface and yellowface? I assume not. And it's true that till very recently there was zero social awareness of the issue with transgender roles but guess what, society and its moral landscape change. I know that back in the 90s having cis people portraying trans characters was not an issue at all, okay, and back in the 50s you could have a white actor blackfaced and dressed up as a cheyenne indian and nobody would complain.
What about "whiteface"?


It is fundamentally racist to complain that actors are from a different race from the characters they are portraying, because there is only one race: the human race. To believe otherwise is racist.

It is normal for actors to wear makeup and costumes to look closer to the characters they are supposed to portray. A "white" American actor can portray a "cheyenne indian" in costume in the same way that he or she can portray a 16-17th century European in a Shakespearean play.

Transgenders want to be accepted as people of the gender they feel like they are, right? Well, in that case if a female who is transgender is portrayed by a female actress then there should be no problem. Back in Shakespearean times it was common for actors to portray characters of different genders anyway.

This backlash against "normal people" playing transgender characters is a by-product of this identity politics neomarxism that is infecting and undermining Western culture. These cultural changes you speak about are very, very bad as they are symptoms of the decadence of the West.

According to identity politics the sexual preference, race, birth gender and "subjective gender" are the paramount identifiers of individuals and therefore should be respected. Identity politics is fundamentally racist since it believes that race is a very important group identity and so should be "respected". Now they are doing the same with transgenders: they are creating this "group identity" of transgenders and reaching the conclusion that only "transgender people" can portray "transgender characters".

At this rate people will get offended if an actor from Iowa portrays a character from Minnesota.



Please, @Guaporense, we are having a serious debate, don't go at me with "that's backwards racism!!" meme answers that don't apply. I can accept the point of view that the interpretative role of actors should allow them to portray anything, but the problem is that white actors were blackfaced and yellowfaced because actors from other ethnicities didn't get the chance to act in high-profile films. And the exact same happens with transgender actors and actresses.

It would be very cool to say "hey Scarlett Johansson plays a trans girl, so talented!" and then to say "this trans girl plays a cis woman!" but you know the chances for either scenario to happen are not the same. That's the problem. There is discrimination against groups in society and by extension inside the industry, the casting choices are a consequence. And when, like Iro says, the movie tries to cash in a diversity that is not reflected in its own casting choices it becomes straight up hypocritical.

Also, I don't think I need to explain my opinion about "at this rate" arguments. Social standards didn't just begin to evolve in the last decade.



So I don't get what the big deal is. And the reason why they get actors who may be so dissimilar to the roles they are playing is because of celebrity box office. That is how movies make money. What's wrong with that? Am I missing something?
In recent decades in Anglo-American society there has been the rise of an ideology called "identity politics" which is heavily influenced by Marxism.

Identity politics is an ideology that states that individuals are defined by the race, gender and sexual identification category they belong to and that the biggest social problem is the existence of a hierarchy of power between these categories: that "white people" oppress "black people", "men" oppress "women", "cisgenders" oppress "transgenders". It is an application of the Marxist concept of oppression between social classes to other social groups.

From the perspective of this ideology, when a "white" person is portraying a "non-white" character, that is seem "whites" are taking over the space of "non-whites" and therefore it is a form of "oppression". For another example, when an actress that is not transgender is portraying a transgender character that is seem as "cisgender" people oppressing transgenders by taking over their space. Same with the complains of whitewashing: "white" people are seem as invading the space of "people of color".

That is a very, very bad cultural development. As it means that society is becoming more and more segregated into different identity groups. That kind of development can eventually lead to genocide: Hitler, Stalin and Mao were the most influential proponents of group-based politics in the 20th century.



Holy ****, Guap.

Like holy ****.

If there's a last straw to ever be made in this discussion, it's you comparing the acts against discrimination of minorities with genocide. I'm not bothering with you.



Please, @Guaporense, we are having a serious debate, don't go at me with "that's backwards racism!!" meme answers that don't apply.
If you do not understand what I am saying it does not imply I am not being serious.

I can accept the point of view that the interpretative role of actors should allow them to portray anything, but the problem is that white actors were blackfaced and yellowfaced because actors from other ethnicities didn't get the chance to act in high-profile films. And the exact same happens with transgender actors and actresses.

It would be very cool to say "hey Scarlett Johansson plays a trans girl, so talented!" and then to say "this trans girl plays a cis woman!" but you know the chances for either scenario to happen are not the same. That's the problem. There is discrimination against groups in society and by extension inside the industry, the casting choices are a consequence. And when, like Iro says, the movie tries to cash in a diversity that is not reflected in its own casting choices it becomes straight up hypocritical.

Also, I don't think I need to explain my opinion about "at this rate" arguments. Social standards didn't just begin to evolve in the last decade.
That is just identity politics: the idea that individuals should be segregated by their "race" and that "white people" oppress "people of color" when white actors invade the "space" of people of color by taking roles.

Not only I disagree completely with such ideology but considering that social segregation leads to dehumanization which can lead to genocide, I see it as a very dangerous development. Last time it happened tens of millions were killed.



Holy ****, Guap.

Like holy ****.

If there's a last straw to ever be made in this discussion, it's you comparing the acts against discrimination of minorities with genocide. I'm not bothering with you.
So not only you do not understand but you refuse to try to understand another point of view, that is typical of followers of totalitarian ideologies.



If you do not understand what I am saying it does not imply I am not being serious.
I understand what you are saying, it just doesn't apply because I'm commenting on the idea that transgender actors/actresses factually do not have the same opportunities in the industry. And it DID reek of "this is racism against whites!!!" which is pretty dumb to say in this debate and me calling it a meme answer is actually kind of a compliment and an attempt to not take it seriously.

We can agree to disagree on the matter of identity politics though, and I can forget about you tying their consequences to the Holocaust. But that's the extent of the agreement we can reach here. Anything else would be a rather nasty development because I have my limits. So, see you in some other thread for some other debate.

And I'm going to ignore that last provocation as well.



This might just do nobody any good.
Just gonna say that ignoring a person’s race/gender (an act which itself begins with an act of acknowledging both factors), the very important roles that they play in said individual’s development and the societal hurdles imposed upon them as a result of being part of a specific societal group is wrong and it does not lead to equality. In fact, it facilitates the dismissal of the idividual’s and his/her societal group’s history of discrimination.



Honestly, I kinda hope that people who say stuff like "aliens should play aliens" are just memeing because if that's not the case then I'm legitimately concerned.

Transgender actors and actresses exist and it's a disrespect to not take them into account when it comes to portraying transgender characters. Do you think that being transgender is like having a job or wearing whatever clothes or hairstyle? Of course people are pissed. Are you okay with blackface and yellowface? I assume not. And it's true that till very recently there was zero social awareness of the issue with transgender roles but guess what, society and its moral landscape change. I know that back in the 90s having cis people portraying trans characters was not an issue at all, okay, and back in the 50s you could have a white actor blackfaced and dressed up as a cheyenne indian and nobody would complain. That doesn't mean it's okay nowadays.
Well for the transgender example, I understand how transgender actors would be struggling to get parts. But I feel this kind of mentality, might be more harmful to them in other ways. Let's say a transgender actor wants to play the part of a cisgender character... And then the transgender actors are turned down, saying they want a cisgender actor to play the part. That kind of mentality keeps transgender actors from playing cisgender parts.

So doesn't this mentality of giving certain roles to actors who portray certain traits become harmful if an actor wants to play a role that is different from them, as oppose to playing just similar roles to them all the time, if that makes sense?

I mean when it comes to other types of examples, imagine if Dustin Hoffman were turned down from Rain Man cause he wasn't autistic for example? Fans of his would think that was unfair to his acting abilities I think.

Or, imagine if Tom Hanks was turned down for Philadelphia because he wasn't gay. Hanks's fans would be think that was unfairly against him, thinking they should give him a chance and not turn him down for the role, based solely on that purpose, wouldn't they?