More and more people are using the term ‘whitewashing’ to describe the practice of casting white
actors as non-white characters. Initially the criticism made sense. For example, Othello really
should be a black actor not some bloke in dark face especially nowadays when there is an
excess of highly-gifted black actors.
Despite his brilliance, I was aghast years ago watching Sir Lawrence Olivier portray the bard’s character on film. It was a travesty and just plain wrong on so many levels. But there are many cases when it simply doesn’t matter what the ethnicity of the actor is because it is not relevant. Case in point… If you follow news about the entertainment industry or are simply a film buff you probably ran
across the following story recently:
“British actor Ed Skrein has pulled out of a role in the upcoming Hellboy reboot after a backlash
because he was cast as a character of Asian heritage.” This is courtesy of BBC. Just think about that for a minute. An actor has decided not to portray a character because he is not of the same ethnic heritage as a comic-book character. This is a slippery PC slope. Very slippery.
For if we are consistent in our belief (and logic) then it only follows that the role of Hamlet should never again be portrayed by a British actor because Hamlet was Danish. All of the historical plays and movies about the Romans must have Italians and not Shakespearean actors from Britain. Caesar must be Italian. Romeo and Juliet also. Nothing against Italian actors, but shouldn’t directors choose actors based upon talent and not ethnicity if the ethnicity is not an obvious requirement for the story?
This is PC overreach and it borders on outright lunacy.
Let’s be absolutely clear…
We are not talking about real-life people being portrayed here. The film Hellboy is based on a
fictional superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The characters in the film are simply
comic- book figures! Are we to ban further Star Trek re-makes until someone who is actually
half human and half Vulcan can be found to play the part of Spock?
Likewise no further movies about Superman should be produced until and when contact is made
with an alien civilization for as everyone knows “Clark Kent” was not a human being, but a
visitor from far away in the cosmos. Hopefully aliens will have developed their own civilization to the point where acting is an integral and advanced part of their culture.
Shall we ride this PC train all the way? Then the next time a film is made about Jesus Christ – as
a cultured man with modern sensibilities – I demand the real thing – the son of God Himself.
And when miracles are performed the studios won’t need any special effects. Think of the
money they’ll save.