Liberal Absurdity Over Acting Roles: ‘You’re Not X Enough For the Role’
this will be a post that I update any time I see new examples of this phenomenon
In the past few weeks, I’ve seen some bizarre news headlines go through my Twitter feed, involving a large percentage of liberals who are harassing actors on social media, or complaining on other platforms about movie casting.
I’m all for diversity in movie role casting, but I think liberals have gone too far. There is no pleasing them.
I’ve actually seen news reports of liberals complaining that Asian actors cast to play Asian characters are not “Asian enough,” or are not “the right kind of Asian,” and complaints about a lesbian actress being cast to play a lesbian character is not “lesbian enough.”
When Scarlett Johansson finally dropped out of playing a transman in a movie part, some liberals were complaining that it was not enough – that she should actively be producing movies about transmen and casting transmen in those roles, or some such.
I am just astounded at how demanding and petty some people are. It’s to the point where entire films are not getting made at all, because of this liberal obsession with representation and identity politics.
Not only do some conservatives kill movies by complaining constantly about diversity in movies – they don’t want to see more women or black people on screen, apparently – but liberals complain just as much when a role is not cast to the degree of specification they desire.
It’s all ridiculous and plays a part in killing my enjoyment of popular entertainment.
Here are a series of links about some of these issues – some of these resources are liberal, others are conservative (which I may want to add to, as I come across more articles and editorials in the future):
by Michelle Malkin, Sept 2016
The identity-obsessed Left thinks actors and actresses should be chosen by race, not talent.
Let’s get down to business. The casting kerfuffle over Disney’s live-action remake of the 1998 animated hit Mulan brings honor to none. It’s a politically correct tempest in a Chinese teapot.
More than 90,000 angry activists have now signed a petition “to tell Disney that we demand to see them cast an Asian Mulan.” The lead instigator, Michigan children’s librarian Natalie Molnar, vented against the practice of “whitewashing” — that is, employing “white Caucasian actors and actresses in roles originally meant to be characters of color.”
Extreme racial and ethnic bean-counting is necessary, even in a remake of a cartoon, the petitioners argue, because “children benefit from finding themselves represented in fiction.”
Skin-color-based casting entitlements and quotas: “for the children.” Of course.
Once again, privileged progressives demonstrate how arbitrary, capricious, and ridiculous militant identity politics can be. Last year, Asian-American leftists attacked director Cameron Crowe for casting Emma Stone as a mixed-race character in the romantic comedy Aloha. It didn’t matter whether Stone pulled off the role; the protesters were too busy administering racial and ethnic litmus tests for employment in the entertainment industry.
This year, grievance-mongers moaned about the casting of mixed-race actress Zoe Saldana as black jazz legend Nina Simone and white actress Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese Manga cartoon figure.
…The diversity cops maintain that only the right kind of mixed-race stars should play mixed-race characters. Only the right kind of black actresses should win black roles. And only Asians should be cast in Mulan, to maintain ethnic realism.
But there’s no rhyme, reason, or logic in their demands for authenticity. TakeMulan. The original movie was riddled with historical inaccuracies. Based on the legend of teenage warrior Hua Mulan, which was popularized in an ancient Chinese ballad, the heroine disguises herself as a man to take the place of her elderly father in battle — “to defeat the Huns,” as the song from the movie goes.
…Weirdly, the Asian-American liberal entertainment lobby didn’t have a problem with Filipina musical-theater star/actress Lea Salonga singing Chinese Mulan’s parts in the original movie. Which raises my still-unanswered question in these well-worn casting wars:
Why is it that the self-appointed Definers of racial and ethnic authenticity get to pick and choose which historical inaccuracies and inconsistencies to protest or ignore?
Strangely, some of the minority actors and actresses in the “People of Color” tribe that the Demand-y Demanders want to cast in Mulan are as authentically Asian as Mulan’s Eddie Murphy–voiced annoying dragon sidekick, Mu Shu.
By KEVIN NOBLE MAILLARD
…Taylor Sheridan, writer-director of the new film “Wind River,” which takes place on a Wyoming reservation, told his casting team: Hire Native American actors. When vetting is a challenge even for tribes, how can casting directors do it?
…Sheridan admitted, “There was someone far and away that was the best, but I didn’t hire them because they were not Native American.” He even told his casting directors that when it came to auditioning actors, “Don’t even read them unless you can vet the authentic nature of their ancestry.”
“Redface,” the manufacturing of ersatz images of Native American identity, has long been a problem in Hollywood, and there’s a well-documented history of hiring non-Indians for Indian roles.
But Sheridan’s solution is thorny, too.
When vetting is a challenge even for tribes, which can become embroiled in controversies over identity, how can casting directors do it? Physical appearance can be deceiving, and requiring tribal membership may exclude those who are not enrolled.
“Fifteen or 20 years ago, they would have found someone who was ethnic enough, and that would have flown,” said Lou Diamond Phillips, who plays a Cheyenne business owner in the A&E drama “Longmire.”
Frequently cast as Native American, but of Filipino, Scottish-Irish and some Cherokee ancestry, Phillips has played a range of roles, from a Mexican-American teenager in “Stand and Deliver” to Thai royalty on Broadway in “The King and I.” He added, “I never claimed to be a Native actor, but I do have Native blood.”
Other stars have taken pains to note their heritage when it mattered to the role. Johnny Depp, who starred in “The Lone Ranger” as Tonto, said that his great-grandmother was “Cherokee, or maybe Creek.”
…Cultural authenticity is a knotty web of learned impressions. Film generates a collective understanding of how Indians look, sound and act, imparting and reaffirming norms. In the watershed film “Smoke Signals,” directed by the Cheyenne-Arapaho filmmaker Chris Eyre, the two leads, Thomas and Victor, discuss “real Indians” in movies. Victor tells the droll Thomas: “Indians ain’t supposed to smile like that. Get stoic!”
The perpetually offended of Twitter strike again
…But Whitehall is just the latest actor to fall foul of the new absurd political correctness surrounding the casting of film roles conjured up by a tiny minority of self-appointed social justice warriors pretending to represent the LGBT community.
Actress Ruby Rose, who describes herself as “gender fluid”, was hounded off social media after criticism of her upcoming role as a lesbian Batwoman. And even Scarlett Johansson was pressured into stepping down from a role as a transgender male character following a backlash by those claiming the part should go to a trans actor.
By their own ridiculous logic, surely only a straight actor can be cast as a straight character? Equally, only people with disabilities can play the roles of disabled people, and only those with mental health problems can play the mentally ill. And, surely it must then follow that you have to be a child molester to play a paedophile, or be a murderer to act the part of one? This is all clearly nonsense.
How on earth is it possible to, on the one hand, celebrate the first female Dr Who, or the casting of a black actress in the role of the adult Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter plays, or the prospect of Idris Elba as the next James Bond, while at the same time castigate every straight white actor or actress for being unqualified for a role purely because they are straight or white?
by Christian Butler, June 2017
…That’s the worst thing about these identity-politics critiques: the assumption that you can make a moral judgement about a movie without having seen it. How convenient, how lazy, how intellectually bankrupt. No need to grapple with subject matter or think about quality and style. No, you can simply denounce a film as immoral based on hearsay and hype.
Identity politics is also a denial of craft. Beyond relishing flops, the identity-politics brigade also suggests that it doesn’t matter how brilliantly constructed a film is – if it sins against the identity-politics outlook, then it’s still ‘bad’.
There are some observers who would rather we didn’t experience La La Land’s dazzling cinematography, sumptuous colours and reinvigoration of the musical genre because they perceive Ryan Gosling’s character to be a ‘white saviour’.
This isn’t even accurate: Gosling’s character may want to revive a black music genre, but he doesn’t ‘save’ anything – the only concrete thing he achieves is opening his own club.
When La La Land went up against Moonlight at the Oscars, the discussion became all about the race of the cast and crew rather than the merits of the movies.
…The injection of identity politics into the film world ignores cinema’s immense subjectivity and emotional power. It is a brazen demand for stories and characters that perfectly conform to one’s own moral compass. It puts censorious pressure on filmmakers not to show the ‘wrong’ thing or cast the ‘wrong’ actor if they don’t want to be vilified as immoral, racist, misogynist, etc. It chills and cheapens this great artform.
by Jessica Gelt
…Even as audiences celebrate the “Hamilton” multiracial vision of the Founding Fathers, some actors and advocates argue that certain types of characters should be played only by actors who share those characters’ essential experiences.
Just a week ago, an advocacy group for the disabled admonished Alec Baldwin for taking the part of a blind man in an upcoming film. Before that, protests decried the “whitewashing” of Asian characters through the casting of non-Asian performers in high-profile films.
…If a role is written for a particular ethnicity, sexual identity, gender or disability, how far should the creative community go to find an actor who checks that particular box? And should the fact that many traditionally marginalized groups are fighting for better representation be taken into consideration? Who has the right to tell what stories? And who gets to make that decision?
…Actors love to act. And they can get Oscar-size accolades for showing their reach. Think Leonardo DiCaprio’s nomination for playing a developmentally disabled teen in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” Or Al Pacino’s Oscar win for his depiction of a blind man in “Scent of a Woman.” Or Jeffrey Tambor’s Emmys for his role as a transgender woman in “Transparent.”
Isn’t that the point of acting: to suspend audience disbelief to the point of personal reinvention?
Still, rising tension over the authenticity question could be felt in Tambor’s 2016 Emmy acceptance speech:
“Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story,” he said. “I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a transgender female.”
His words signaled a shift from the days when actors like Tom Hanks (who played gay in 1993’s “Philadelphia”), Jake Gyllenhaal (who did the same in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain”) and John Lithgow (who played a trans woman in 1982’s “The World According to Garp”) were celebrated for their bravery in bringing mainstream visibility to overlooked and often denigrated groups.
The sentiment that, say, transgender, Latino or deaf actors should be given a fair shot at portraying transgender, Latino or deaf characters seems to be growing as producers, directors and others try to balance artistic goals with social responsibility — and the expectations of an increasingly diverse, empowered audience.
This is writ large in the American theater, where the term “colorblind casting” — selecting actors without taking ethnicity into account — is no longer in favor. The ascendant norm is “color-conscious casting,” which implies an understanding of the profound implications of skin color. The shift carries potentially radical implications for the art form.
…Still, the discussion about who should be cast in which roles has evolved, Hwang said. As the theater grows more aware and diverse, the authenticity discussion has evolved with nuance.
…Each play or musical must be considered on a case-by-case basis, said Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the book for Miranda’s “In the Heights.”
…But now we’re in the era of “Hamilton.” A better term is “color-conscious,” said Diep Tran, associate editor of American Theatre magazine, who writes a monthly column on equity, diversity and inclusion. “Color-conscious” means “we’re aware of the historic discrimination in the entertainment industry,” she said, “and we’re also aware of what it means to put a body of color onstage.”
…But as Chu told EW in November of 2016 before the casting process began, Nick was bound to be hard to find: They needed to find a specific type, he said, that of a “charming, leading man” who would “have to be able to sound educated from Oxford, so they have to have the English accent on top of being a good actor.”
In the end, newcomer Henry Golding, a travel host of Malaysian, Singaporean, and British descent who grew up in England before relocating to Singapore, won the role…
The news, however, stirred up controversy from fans who’d hoped the role would go to an all-Asian actor.
Actress Jamie Chung even commented on the casting, initially calling the choice to cast the mixed-race Golding “bulls—” before walking back her remarks, saying, “It goes both ways. It’s just frustrating to lose a job or not have a shot at it [because] of your race.”
To Golding, the commotion over his casting felt “quite hurtful,” he tells EW. “For me, it was almost like being kind of stabbed in the back. I was like, ‘Aren’t we meant to be in this boat together? Aren’t we meant to strive together for something bigger than these boundaries that we’re putting on ourselves instead of bullying each other?’”
Besides, he says, he felt that to critique exactly how Asian someone was made for an argument that could never be won. “People were like, ‘This guy’s half-Asian, he’s half-white, he’s not even full Asian,’ and it comes to, like, how Asian do you have to be to be considered Asian?” he wonders.
“I’ve lived 16, 17 years of my life in Asia, and that’s most of my life. I was born in Asia, I’ve lived cultures that are synonymous with Asian culture, but it’s still not Asian enough for some people. Where are the boundaries? Where are the lines drawn for saying that you cannot play this character because you’re notfully Asian?”
….But some critics have argued that the film–an adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel by the same name–is not an accurate representation of Singapore and Asian culture, nor does it do enough to improve diversity in Hollywood.
As Asian women, we acknowledge and agree that Crazy Rich Asian presents a very narrow, exaggerated sliver of a specific type of Asian experience. It’s also funny, touching, and a visual feast. We believe criticizing the film or the cast for not being “Asian” enough is unproductive and potentially harmful to those voices that Crazy Rich Asians didn’t represent. …
…This movie shouldn’t have to represent all of us, and it can’t. Crazy Rich Asians is set in Singapore, but at its core, it is a movie for Asian Americans. That doesn’t make it any less Asian. In fact, if there’s one thing that is less Asian about this movie, it may well be its predictable, cheery Hollywood ending. Here’s to many more. –Pavithra Mohan
…In fact, one potential producer had the wrong idea entirely of what would appeal to Kwan. During this early meeting, Kwan says, the producer asked him to reimagine his protagonist, Rachel (played by Constance Wu in the film), as Caucasian. “That was their strategy,” he remembers. “They wanted to change the heroine into a white girl. I was like, ‘Well, you’ve missed the point completely.’ I said, ‘No, thank you.’”
The idea wasn’t surprising to Kwan, of course. Hollywood has tended to whitewash Asian roles in the past. But in this case, to whitewash Rachel would take away an integral part of the character’s identity and also be a detriment to the story itself. Crazy Rich Asians is about a Chinese-American woman’s journey back to Asia, a quintessentially Asian immigrant experience. Rachel goes through reverse culture shock as part of her journey; to remove that aspect of the character by making her a white woman would have made it a completely different story.
The perpetually offended of Twitter strike again
(CNN)Scarlett Johansson has opted to withdraw from a film in which she was set to play a transgender man after her casting drew criticism from the LGBTQ community.
Johansson said an exclusive statement to Out.com that her decision was made “in light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting.”
CNN has reached out to Johansson’s representatives for further comment.
Johansson had been set to play transgender man Dante “Tex” Gill, who owned a string of massage parlors in Pittsburgh that were fronts for prostitution in the 1970s and 1980s, in a film about his life.
Johansson’s casting, however, came at a moment when the LGBTQ community and allies are encouraging the casting transgender actors in transgender roles.
The recent debut of Ryan Murphy’s FX drama “Pose,” which featured the largest-ever cast of transgender actors in series regular roles on a television series, has been pointed to as an shining example this practice in action.
After the immediate backlash to Johannson’s casting began, the actress issued astatement to Bustle that was criticized for its dismissive nature.
In her new statement, Johansson acknowledges making a misstep.
“Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive,” she said. “I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.”
Johansson has found herself in the middle of a casting controversy before.
Her casting in the film “Ghost in the Shell,” based on a popular Japanese manga series, prompted accusations of white-washing. The movie went ahead as planned and was released in 2017.
The CW’s new Batwoman, Ruby Rose, is the latest high-profile actor to quit social media after facing harassment from so-called fans over her role in a nerdy project. It’s becoming more common for actors and creators to leave social media platforms because of online abuse, enough that it’s starting to feel like an everyday annoyance we can ignore. It’s not. And we shouldn’t.
Ruby Rose, who was recently chosen to play Batwoman in the next show on the CW’s Arrowverse, said she’s leaving Twitter after becoming the target of backlash over her casting.
“I am looking forward to getting more than 4 hours of sleep and to break from Twitter to focus all my energy on my next 2 projects. If you need me, I’ll be on my Bat Phone,” Rose wrote on her most recent tweet.
While some voices of disapproval over her role came from people who don’t like the idea of seeing Batwoman as a Jewish lesbian — even though that has been a part of the DC comics since 2005 — there have also been objections from those who point out that Rose is not Jewish and identifies as gender fluid, rather than strictly as a lesbian. The latter complaints were alluded to in Rose’s final tweets.
“Where on earth did ‘Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can’t be batwoman come from — has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read,” Rose tweeted. “I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with ‘she’s too gay’ how do y’all flip it like that? I didn’t change. I wish we would all support each other and our journeys.”
…Rose is the latest in a series of actors who have recently left Twitter for various reasons. “Star Wars” cast members Daisy Ridley deleted all her social media accounts this past December, while her co-star Kelly Marie Tran left Twitter amid harassment for her role in the series.
Ruby Rose has quit Twitter after a backlash over hercasting as lesbian superhero Batwoman in The CW’s Arrowverse.
Rose’s casting is set to make her the first LGBTQ lead in a live-action superhero series. Two days after the announcement, the Australian actress deleted her Twitter account and limited comments on her Instagram account to only people she knew after some fans took to social media to express their anger, with many erroneously arguing that Rose can’t play a lesbian character, despite the fact the Meg star has been out since the age of 12.
Some fans also argued that Rose wasn’t Jewish, unlike Kate Kane/Batwoman, and others questioned her acting skills to play the role.
“Where on earth did ‘Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can’t be batwoman’ come from — has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with ‘she’s too gay’ how do y’all flip it like that? I didn’t change,” Rose wrote in what appears to be her last few messages on Twitter before deleting her account (see full message below).
Rose is the latest star to be hounded off social media after a fan backlash. Stranger Things starMillie Bobby Brown, Star Wars actresses Kelly Marie Tran and Daisy Ridley have all deleted their social media accounts following harassment, threats and relentless negativity.
However annoying you might think Twitter can get, it’s thousands of times worse for celebrities with massive followings
Edit August 29, 2018
How many actors out there have Elephant Man disease? I’m no expert, but I’m going to guess not very many, so how realistic is this demand?
If the show gets an actor who is disabled, but not specifically with the Elephant Man’s disease, I’m betting that still will not be satisfactory to some.
Disability charity SLAMS BBC for casting able-bodied actor Charlie Heaton in new adaptation of The Elephant Man – by Roxy Simons, August 29, 2018
The intro to that reads:
It was announced last week that Stranger Things star Charlie Heaton would take on the role of The Elephant Man in BBC’s titular new drama.
And disability charity Scope have criticised the casting choice, as they slammed the show runners on Wednesday for letting an able-bodied actor play Joseph Merrick.
Speaking to the Press Association, Scope’s head of communications Phil Talbot said: ‘It’s disappointing that a disabled actor has not been cast in the remake of The Elephant Man, as it’s one of the most recognisable films to portray a disabled character.
Edit August 30, 2018 update
….Villechaize [who Dinklage played in a movie] was actually French, and was of German and English descent. But because he looked like he may have been Filipino — and Wikipedia told them so — social justice warriors accused Dinklage of “yellow face.”
by Tyler McCarthy
Peter Dinklage spent a lot of time trying to get HBO’s upcoming film about fellow actor with dwarfism, Hervé Villechaize, made. Now, he’s commenting on claims of whitewashing the late actor, despite critics getting his ethnicity wrong.
The film, “My Dinner with Hervé” stars the “Game of Thrones” actor as Villechaize, who fans may remember from the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” or as Tattoo, the excited man who would yell “The plane! The plane!” on “Fantasy Island.”
Some critics were quick to lambast Dinklage for whitewashing the role arguing that HBO should have sought out a Filipino actor with dwarfism. However, speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Dinklage addressed those criticisms by noting the simple problem with them – Villechaize was French.
“The internet is the best thing and the worst thing. The funny thing about the backlash is it addresses what we address in the film about not judging a book by its cover. Hervé was judged by how he looked, and cast and perceived to be who he is accordingly,” Dinklage told the outlet.
He continued: “There’s this term ‘whitewashing.’ I completely understand that. But Hervé wasn’t Filipino. Dwarfism manifests physically in many different ways. I have a very different type of dwarfism than Hervé had. I’ve met his brother and other members of his family. He was French, and of German and English descent. So it’s strange these people are saying he’s Filipino. They kind of don’t have any information.”
The 49-year-old star noted that he’s not necessarily against those who get upset when a role is, by all definitions, whitewashed. However, in the case of Villechaize, he notes that people are so quick to defend his ethnicity, that they judge him based on preconceived notions about who he is that aren’t based on facts.
From the article:
Some critics were quick to lambast Dinklage for whitewashing the role arguing that HBO should have sought out a Filipino actor with dwarfism.
They cannot be serious.
Edit. December 2018
Australian action star Ruby Rose made her highly-anticipated debut as DC Comic’s first lesbian superhero Batwoman/Kate Kane during the second part of the Elseworlds crossover on The CW’s Arrow on Monday.
The 32-year-old SAG Award winner was confident and no-nonsense as Batman/Bruce Wayne’s butt-kicking heiress cousin, and overall the reaction was that she didn’t disappoint.
…One ‘fairly happy’ fan approved of Rose’s American accent but they wished she’d worn the wig throughout and didn’t want to see her tattooed sleeves.
Edit January 8, 2019
Cranston’s casting in the movie was criticized by Jay Ruderman, the president of The Ruderman Family Foundation, an advocacy organization focused on disability inclusion.
‘While we don’t know the auditioning history of The Upside, casting a non-disabled actor to play a character with a disability is highly problematic and deprives performers with disabilities the chance to work and gain exposure,’ Ruderman said last September amid the movie’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere, according to the Independent.
Able-bodied actor Bryan Cranston on Tuesday decried the lack of acting opportunities for disabled people in Hollywood but ultimately defended his role as a quadriplegic billionaire in the upcoming film “The Upside” as a “business decision” that he has the right to make as an actor.
“I think being cast in this role as a quadriplegic really came down to a business decision,” the former “Breaking Bad” star told Sky News. “We live in the world of criticism, if we’re willing to get up and try something, we have to also be willing to take criticism.
“As actors, we’re asked to be other people, to play other people” Mr. Cranston asked. “If I, as a straight, older person, and I’m wealthy, I’m very fortunate, does that mean I can’t play a person who is not wealthy, does that mean I can’t play a homosexual? I don’t know, where does the restriction apply, where is the line for that? I think it is worthy for debate to discuss those issues.”
Kevin Hart, Mr. Cranston’s co-star in “The Upside” who recently pulled out of hosting the Oscars amid backlash over past homophobic tweets, said the film’s producers were looking for “box office success” by casting well-known actors. He also said Mr. Cranston’s role offers a fresh perspective for how disabled people navigate life and suggested that his own role in the film as a poor, black ex-con offers the opportunity for debate about white privilege.
“You have the ‘white privileged male’ going through one of the roughest moments of his life that people can’t even imagine how or what it’s like to go through what he’s going through,” Mr. Hart told Yahoo Movies UK. “On my side, he’s been incarcerated, now on probation and not been able to get an opportunity and feel like the world is against me.
“There are unique ways to address the conversation from a cinematic point of view so why not take up the opportunity?” he asked. “Especially if we’re going to do from the perspective of looking at ‘the upside.’”
Mr. Cranston recently came under fire by members of the disabled community after news spread that he would be cast as a quadriplegic — similar to the backlash Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson faced after he played an amputee in the movie “Skyscraper.” The criticism, which has also been lodged against non-gay actors who fill gay roles and white actors for filling non-white roles, is part of a larger conversation about the lack of diversity in Hollywood.
Can a White Person Make a Movie about African Americans? by Brendan O’Neill