Posts Tagged ‘filmmaking’

About a week and a half ago, Variety reported that the Ghost in the Shell live-action film, which had been in development hell for years, was underway and had Scarlett Johanssen in the lead after Margot Robbie turned it down. Not only did this impress upon me to actually read the manga, but it excited and angered GitS fans across the world. The former is understandable, but the latter is a bit more complex. Why? Well, the main character of GitS is named Major Motoko Kusanagi, and she’s Japanese. Johanssen, while a great actress, is white. Why didn’t Touchstone Pictures ask any Japanese actresses?

And this isn’t the only live-action adaptation based on a Japanese franchise where Hollywood has looked at only white actors. The Akira film, which once again is in development after many years in and out of development hell, has been notorious for its producers trying to get white actors in the roles of Japanese characters. Justin Timberlake, Robert Pattinson, and Andrew Garfield are the latest names to come up. George Takei has been vocal about this, warning producers they will upset fans and have a repeat of The Last Airbender (an adaptation of the American anime Avatar: The Last Airbender) if they don’t cast Asian actors. Remember the latter film had a mostly white cast, and, although the film was problematic on a number of levels, the fact that the very diverse characters were all played by white actors upset many fans.

And it’s not just films based on anime that has had this problem. Biblical films such as Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings have received a lot of criticism not just for the liberties taken with their stories, but the fact that while the characters being portrayed would have most likely have been from the Middle East and Africa, the principle actors were all white. And in Pan, an upcoming movie based on Peter Pan, Tiger Lily is played by Rooney Mara, who is white while her character is Native American. Surprisingly, the Peter Pan live musical on NBC last month actually had a Native American actress and tried not to be so stereotypical with their portrayal of Native Americans, which was one of the few good things about that disaster. The 2003 Peter Pan film also cast a Native American actress in the role of Tiger Lily, and that film rocked! Why can’t Pan do the same thing?

And here’s something interesting I’m not sure if other people have noticed: when the Harry Potter films were still being made, the first couple of films had two different actresses, both black, playing Lavender Brown. At that point she was a background character for the films, but once the sixth book came out she had a much bigger role. When we see her in the sixth movie, she’s played by Jessie Cave, who was white. I mean really. The HP universe has already shown that the main basis for discrimination is how pure your blood is. JK Rowling has already stated that gender isn’t a big deal in the Wizarding world, and I don’t think race would be a big deal either. What’s wrong with Ron dating a black girl, even if the relationship doesn’t work out in the end? Heck, Fred went to the Yule Ball with Angelina Johnson, who in the books was black, and after the series she married and had kids with George Weasley.

And why the heck wasn’t Selma in the Oscars this year? I mean, I don’t really care about the Oscars, but apparently this year has only white nominees, and of those most are male. I don’t know why. I saw Selma, and it was powerful and beautiful. Why can’t it get a nomination or two?

I’ve been vocal about how, almost 47 years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, this nation is still full of racial inequality, most illustrated this past year in the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and quite a few others, the trials that seem to have lead to nowhere, and the protests that have followed them. The many roles where white actors have played characters of non-white nationalities may seem like a small thing, but it’s actually pretty big. The media has a great power to influence millions and millions of people. What does it say when the people who go to movies don’t see themselves in the movies that they go to see? Even in roles where they should be seeing themselves?

I’m not sure what Hollywood’s reasoning for doing all this white-washing. Maybe they like to bank on star power or something. But I think that studio execs are making a big mistake by not including more diverse casts in their films.  TV execs are catching on much faster: TV shows like Sleepy Hollow,  Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, which pride themselves on their diversity, are tearing up the prime time landscape, Black-ish and Jane the Virgin, which feature mostly black or Hispanic casts, are some of the year’s best new comedies, and SNL has made it a point to diversify their cast members.

And while I’m still working on getting that sort of reach with my books, I like to use diverse casts in my stories when I can, and I think that that’s some of the best parts of my books. In my thesis novel Rose, half the main cast, including antagonist Akira, are Japanese. In Laura Horn, many of the characters are black or Hispanic, and I plan to keep that in the rewrite. And in the Reborn City series, most of my characters aren’t white. In fact, Zahara Bakur, my protagonist, is an Arab Muslim. And if in an adaptation of any of my works, the white-washing I’ve described above was used in the casting process, I’d be very, very upset.

Because that’s not how the characters should be. We want to see characters who look like us. I’m lucky that I see a lot of white characters. Occasionally I see a Jewish character, though they’re either secular or ultra-Orthodox Jews. But what about others? There have only been two black superheroes in the movies these past couple of years, and they’ve been sidekicks to the white superhero. And what about Hispanic or Asian heroes? Where are the Native American characters?

I think Hollywood is making a great mistake in not diversifying their casts and insisting on the big actors. I’m not saying that white actors no longer have roles in movies. But I do think that there needs to be more roles for blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and other groups and ethnicities in Hollywood movies. It’s not a moral thing. It’s because the world is becoming more diverse every day. The media we consume should reflect that. After all, the media reflects the world, doesn’t it? So reflect the world as it is, Hollywood. And that’s a beautifully diverse landscape of many different groups and peoples with a thousand different stories to tell.

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(This is the sequel to my previous post The Rabid Fans. In this installment, the fans are nuttier, the anger is much more bloodthirsty, and the references to Charlaine Harris’s work…is basically not part of this post. Sorry, but it’s an old story, and frankly there’s more to this phenomenon than vampires in the Bible belt. Onto the sequel, which may or may not be better than the original, depending on your opinion)

He’s Batman, deal with it.

Hollywood is being terrorized. Well, not really terrorized. More like annoyed. A few weeks ago, Warner Bros. announced that in the Man of Steel sequel, good ol’ Bats will be played by Ben Affleck. Now personally I have no problem with Affleck. He’s a capable actor, I liked him in Daredevil, and I’m sure, given the chance, he will break new ground in the role of Batman (if they force him to play a Bale copycat or something else that’s been done before, then God help the producers of the film). However, some fans were not so happy with the casting decision, taking to Twitter to voice their discontent in a tweeting storm. Many sent angry letters to Warner Bros. to tell them they hated their casting decision, and some even started a petition on the White House We the People page to get the White House involved.

That petition was taken down because, for all the obvious reasons, the White House isn’t going to take part in a casting call in Hollywood. They’ve got some bigger problems to deal with, in case you haven’t noticed. But then things got crazier, when this past week Universal Pictures and Focus Features announced that Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam and Ben and Kate actress Dakota Jonston were cast in the roles of the leads for the upcoming film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. Moms and middle-aged women and a former neighbor of mine who just happens to be a fan weren’t happy when the announcement came out. Instead, they started a petition, this one on Change.org apparently, asking that instead of Hunnam and Johnston, Matt Bomer and Alexis Beidel play the roles.

I’m surprised this is being made into a movie, but hey, if it makes money, why not?

Obviously, Hollywood ignored both outpourings of fan reactions. And I’m not surprised. After all, a lot more goes into a casting besides good looks. Talent, availability, willingness to play a role, chemistry, and a bunch of other factors go into the casting of a single character. And if the fans don’t like it, that’s their decision. In a meantime, there’s a movie to make, and not enough time to bother with annoyed men and women on their computers.

That’s Hollywood’s line of reasoning, anyway. But honestly, I think even the elites in LA are a little annoyed and worried. Heck, I find it worrying. Fans these days seem so…entitled. It’s not just casting calls, but demands for sequels (or threats should a sequel/remake be made), certain characters be made couples or else. It’s insane.

So let me take this moment to let all you rabid fans out there know one very important thing: THERE’S A F***ING LIMIT TO HOW MUCH OBLIGATION HOLLYWOOD HAS TO YOU, AND YOU’RE BLOODY WELL OVER THAT F***ING LIMIT!!! I mean honestly, the people who make these pieces of entertainment don’t have to make these films/shows/books. They could easily find other things to do or make. Yes, they’ll try and stay close to the original vein of the story, and they will do what they feel is best. You may not like it, but to assume that you know better than the producers and directors and writers is just plain snobbish arrogance. I mean come on! They have money and creating a brilliant story on their minds when they make these things. To assume they’re not trying to make the best story possible or that for some reason a simple fan knows better, well before the story is even made, seems imbecilic to me.

Yes, I understand there are people who want sequels to John Carter or Dredd 3D despite their miserable box office intakes (I wouldn’t mind the latter personally). And I know you want the characters you love to be portrayed by competent actors who look like they would fit the parts (I’m a little skeptical because the person playing Sue Snell in the Carrie remake isn’t a brunette). And I know you want certain characters to end up with each other at the end of the series (I was a Harry-Hermione supporter until Book 5 or 6, I’ll admit it now). But listen, you’ve got to let these things go. Give the filmmakers and writers and directors a chance, and stop thinking you know better. I’m willing to see if the new Sue Snell can impress me. I want to see if Affleck can break new ground at the Dark Knight. And I think Harry-Ginny and Ron-Hermione has a sort-of harmony to it.

There will not be a sequel. Harassment must cease. Failure to comply will result in the ultimate punishment provided by law.

Besides, the world won’t end if there’s no sequel to your beloved film. People won’t die if the favorite actor/actress plays a certain part. The universe won’t cause a storm if Character A and Character B end up in love and having cute babies together. The world moves on, because everything I’ve listed above–50 Shades, Superman vs. Batman, Carrie and John Carter and Dredd 3D and others–they’re all FICTION. Not real, fake, born from the imaginations of people who are paid to lie. Yes, they feel real and I understand that, but at the end of the day, it’s all fictional and therefore irrelevant to the workings of the world.

Help those being treated like mutants now.

Stop Assad with me!

If you must get angry about something, then think about this: people in Syria are being killed like humans when faced with General Zod. In many nations, LGBT communities and women are treated like Marvel’s mutants. In many nations, women can’t decide between two hunks who look good without their shirts on or have sex with mysterious and tortured partners. They get married off to men sometimes much older than them by their parents and if they protest they can get tortured or killed without any protection from the law.

Now that’s something to get upset about!

But if you still disagree with me on all that I’ve discussed above, I’ve some friends I want you to meet. They’re very animated, but I think they’ll take good care of you and you’ll learn a lot from them and their foundation.

Get the picture? Good. Have a lovely evening, everybody. Hope you’re not planning on sending me hate comments or discussing casting and writing decisions for the latest Star Trek movie (yes, there were obvious flaws in that movie, but that’s a post for another time. Probably never).