EXODUS Be The Last Whitewashed Blockbuster

Copper
Copper Members Posts: 49,532 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited July 2014 in The Social Lounge
Good article....worth the read
Not for you illiterate ?
Culture changes around you; it's a lot like the old frog in that ? of slowly boiling water. You don't even notice that the word you thought was the correct term for another race/creed/color/sexuality is hate speech until someone yells at you for it. The definitions shift as power moves away - slowly, ever so slowly - from centralized white maleness. Some of that stuff is extreme - go to Tumblr and look at the made-up pronouns people use to refer to themselves because they believe they're wolves or clouds or something - but that extremity helps pull the mainstream along to the next level of awareness and decency. 

Look at movies from the 80s; the racial and gender and ? stuff in a lot of mainstream movies from that era are downright shocking today (I'd argue even more shocking than some of the racial stuff in movies from the 30s and 40s, which at least are periods that exist Pre-Civil Rights Movement*), and those attitude changes happened slowly and almost without us noticing. Are we ever going to get to a point where Weird Science is as subtly suppressed as the hyper-racist Little Rascals episodes?

We're in the middle of another one of these attitude shifts, and it's about representation on screen. More and more people are realizing that women and people of color are simply underrepresented on cinema screens. One of the reasons that the Fast and Furious films have such a huge fanbase is because of its quiet diversity of casting - all sorts of people are represented in these movies. And they don't make a big deal out of it, they just hire people of different races (and have female characters) and go about making lots of money. Let's put it this way: when Fast & Furious 7 lost Paul Walker the large ensemble cast lost half of its white male good guys. 

That's one part of making our movies look like our world - making it so that 'white' isn't the default color for lead characters. But there's another, weirder thing going on, and it's called whitewashing. It's when a character who should be non-white is either made white for the movie or, worse, played by a white person in some kind of make-up. Pretty much every old movie with Asian or Native American characters did this; John Wayne played ? GENGHIS KHAN at one point. 

I want to take a quick aside here to address a point that will, without fail, be made in the comments: yes, the skin tone of an actor should be as important to their casting as their hair color. Yes, performance capture technology is bringing us to a future where any actor can play any race, gender, age or species thanks to the magic of technology. But that's utopian stuff, things to consider once our society has stopped getting broken down along tribalistic lines, lines often demarcated by skin color or place of origin. We don't live in that world, and that means we have to be vigilant to make sure that the people we're seeing on film reflect the people sitting in the audience. 

And one more side note: when you look at a casting landscape where 'white' is the default setting for casting and you say 'It should go to the best actor,' what you're kind of saying is that the best actors are white. Because if you think the roles are going to the best actors, and all the roles are going to whites, you're basically claiming that there simply aren't as many blacks or hispanics who are capable of the quality of work that whites can do**.

Anyway, back to the main point, which is whitewashing. It still happens - look at Jake Gyllenhall in Prince of Persia or the leads in Avatar: The Last Airbender. And now it's about to happen on a fairly major scale, as Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings will feature a very, very white cast playing likely non-white Ancient Egyptians. 

I have to go on another side journey here - there is some controversy over what color the ancient Egyptians were. I'm going to go out on a limb and say 'Not the same color as Christian Bale, who is Welsh***," and the general consensus is two-fold: 1) the race of the Egyptians doesn't actually matter in terms of their culture and history because skin tone wasn't an issue in those days as it is now and 2) they were probably what we would call black or at the very least MIddle Eastern in appearance. They may have actually been a mixture of two peoples from different parts of Africa, even. 

While race didn't matter at the time, it does now, and casting all white people as non-white people is problematic. Ridley Scott, a 76 year old man who grew up in a world where the historical epic tradition was actors with booming English accents wearing togas, probably never even thought about it. It likely never even crossed his mind that he might want to seek out people of color to play these people of color. He just stocked up on bronzer and cast Joel Edgerton in his movie instead. 

Everybody else is going to notice, though. Cultural shifts happens quietly and slowly, like the movement of Earth's tectonic plates. All that quiet, slow movement results in something bigger, though, as the plates smash together and cause earthquakes, and I think Exodus: Gods and Kings is riding a tectonic plate that's just about to crash into increased social awareness of representation. Will the movie be good? Maybe. Probably! But will the movie cause controversy? I don't see how it won't. 

And that controversy could be the one we need, the big central moment where everybody has a talk about this and says, "Hey, you know, maybe we shouldn't cast white guys as every race. And maybe we should figure out how to get people who aren't white guys into our movies." I really feel like Exodus is going to be one of those movies that crystalizes a larger cultural issue and makes it clear for lots and lots of people. There will still be those - white men, almost exclusively - who scoff at the idea that white people playing every race under the sun is a problem, but they're a vanishing breed. 

Maybe, in the utopian future when someone makes a movie about the 2010s, a famous Asian actor can put on whiteface to play one of these guys. 

* in our pop cultural memory, not in reality. 

** It is important to note that the 1970s showed us that Italian actors are the actual best actors, and they should probably be cast in every role. 

*** Christian Bale, by the way, isn't actually playing an Egyptian, he's playing Moses, a Jew from the Middle East who also would not have looked a damn thing like a Welshman, so the point remains.
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Comments

  • Recaptimus_Prime360
    Recaptimus_Prime360 Members Posts: 64,801 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Good read. Gotta c/s this.
  • The_Jackal
    The_Jackal Members Posts: 3,628 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.
  • Will Munny
    Will Munny Members Posts: 30,199 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.

    I really liked the the first How to Train Your Dragon, whats the deal with the second one?
  • Copper
    Copper Members Posts: 49,532 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.

    Wrong....unknown or little known actors are often cast as leads in big films (twighlight, hunger games)

    And the myth that blacks and other minorities can't sell movie tickets have been debunked so many times you can throw that argument in the bushes,......it should be considered racist and offensive
  • The_Jackal
    The_Jackal Members Posts: 3,628 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2014
    Copper wrote: »
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.

    Wrong....unknown or little known actors are often cast as leads in big films (twighlight, hunger games)

    And the myth that blacks and other minorities can't sell movie tickets have been debunked so many times you can throw that argument in the bushes,......it should be considered racist and offensive


    But those were already popular books. Just like harry potter it was easy to make a profit off of it. And nah i'm not saying that they cant just that most companies would look at it that way. Just look at 12 years a slave and you can see that a high quality cast of relatively unknown minority actors can a movie and win awards. It really comes down to hollywood being willing to take more risk and fill in roles with all kinds of races.
  • The_Jackal
    The_Jackal Members Posts: 3,628 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2014
    And How to train your dragon 2 that ? was good as hell. Took my nephew with me to see it its really good.
  • Dr. Stitch
    Dr. Stitch Members Posts: 734 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    Copper wrote: »
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.

    Wrong....unknown or little known actors are often cast as leads in big films (twighlight, hunger games)

    And the myth that blacks and other minorities can't sell movie tickets have been debunked so many times you can throw that argument in the bushes,......it should be considered racist and offensive


    But those were already popular books. Just like harry potter it was easy to make a profit off of it. And nah i'm not saying that they cant just that most companies would look at it that way. Just look at 12 years a slave and you can see that a high quality cast of relatively unknown minority actors can a movie and win awards. It really comes down to hollywood being willing to take more risk and fill in roles with all kinds of races.

    You right but hollywood dosnt wanna shed light on certain aspects of reality...all you got to do is look at why marvel's "blacc panther" movie was put on the bacc burner...
  • Copper
    Copper Members Posts: 49,532 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    Copper wrote: »
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.

    Wrong....unknown or little known actors are often cast as leads in big films (twighlight, hunger games)

    And the myth that blacks and other minorities can't sell movie tickets have been debunked so many times you can throw that argument in the bushes,......it should be considered racist and offensive


    But those were already popular books. Just like harry potter it was easy to make a profit off of it. And nah i'm not saying that they cant just that most companies would look at it that way. Just look at 12 years a slave and you can see that a high quality cast of relatively unknown minority actors can a movie and win awards. It really comes down to hollywood being willing to take more risk and fill in roles with all kinds of races.

    So your saying Hollywood execs are close minded about race?

    So you agree with the thread premise

    bc your initial argument was that they try to cast big name actors to sell tickets.... Your second post contradicted that
  • Copper
    Copper Members Posts: 49,532 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Whites got irate when that black comedian just mentioned he wanted to play spiderman as a joke on Twitter
  • The_Jackal
    The_Jackal Members Posts: 3,628 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Copper wrote: »
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    Copper wrote: »
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    I agree but the name of the game is Capitalism. Hollywood is always going to go for the big names that sells tickets and wins Oscar instead of the correct choice of race and ethnicity by picking an actor who is less known and not strong enough to sell a movie on its back. Just look at the animated movie how to train your pet dragon 2. Came out with universal praise across the board but it's not doing ? in the box office.

    Wrong....unknown or little known actors are often cast as leads in big films (twighlight, hunger games)

    And the myth that blacks and other minorities can't sell movie tickets have been debunked so many times you can throw that argument in the bushes,......it should be considered racist and offensive


    But those were already popular books. Just like harry potter it was easy to make a profit off of it. And nah i'm not saying that they cant just that most companies would look at it that way. Just look at 12 years a slave and you can see that a high quality cast of relatively unknown minority actors can a movie and win awards. It really comes down to hollywood being willing to take more risk and fill in roles with all kinds of races.

    So your saying Hollywood execs are close minded about race?

    So you agree with the thread premise

    bc your initial argument was that they try to cast big name actors to sell tickets.... Your second post contradicted that


    No I was agreeing with you. My first post was simply stating a reason as to why. Black and Hollywood is alot like Hip Hop. In the 80s nobody but black was really ? with it. Wasn't considered a true artform. Its not until the 90s when you got NWA pushing records like crazy Pac, Biggie, Wu Tang, etc etc and you got all the older whites who still didn't see it as an artform but their kids did and they bought the albums. Its all about capitalism about the money. As soon as more and more black actors take the main stage and they see how much people easily relate they will be forced to cast more.
  • The_Jackal
    The_Jackal Members Posts: 3,628 ✭✭✭✭✭
    And Spiderman is black in the 616 universe(Basically alternate reality) so its not like it would be wrong for a black to play spiderman but he would have to be young.
  • Copper
    Copper Members Posts: 49,532 ✭✭✭✭✭
    They want Rooney Mara to play tiger Lilly in the new peter pan
  • Dr. Stitch
    Dr. Stitch Members Posts: 734 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I kno im prolly late af...but who's supposed to be the blacc captain america?
  • The_Jackal
    The_Jackal Members Posts: 3,628 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Dr. Stitch wrote: »
    I kno im prolly late af...but who's supposed to be the blacc captain america?

    Falcon. Basically one of Caps homies.
  • Dr. Stitch
    Dr. Stitch Members Posts: 734 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    Dr. Stitch wrote: »
    I kno im prolly late af...but who's supposed to be the blacc captain america?

    Falcon. Basically one of Caps homies.

    Tru...
  • Recaptimus_Prime360
    Recaptimus_Prime360 Members Posts: 64,801 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Will Munny wrote: »
    Seriously... Hollywood should make a movie about the Roman Empire and cast ALL Chinese actors.


    Let's see if anybody says anything.



    Or maybe a movie about George Washington and cast an Ethiopian in the lead role.


    Those crackers at Fox News would lose their minds.

    They were mad about Hunger Games casting a black girl for the movie when her character in the book.... was a black girl. Their heads would literally explode.


    @ was ridiculous. Muthafuccas gettin mad bcuz the character they envisioned in THEIR heads was white.
  • Copper
    Copper Members Posts: 49,532 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Captain America is still white .... Sam Wilson is just taking over his mantle temporarily
  • Masterfultech
    Masterfultech Members Posts: 662 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Dr. Stitch wrote: »
    I kno im prolly late af...but who's supposed to be the blacc captain america?
    The_Jackal wrote: »
    Dr. Stitch wrote: »
    I kno im prolly late af...but who's supposed to be the blacc captain america?

    Falcon. Basically one of Caps homies.
    Copper wrote: »
    Captain America is still white .... Sam Wilson is just taking over his mantle temporarily

    Well lets not forget that Proto-Cap(technically the first) is Isaiah Bradley...
    250px-IsaiahBradley.jpg
  • Ajackson17
    Ajackson17 Members Posts: 22,501 ✭✭✭✭✭
    To be fair we should have blacks play Romans for vengeance