The irony of people upset over casting of characters in movies and TVs by women and/or BIPIOC is that many of the works are supposed to be about the minorities prevailing over oppressive forces. The controversy has hit streaming series The Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power in which Ismael Cruz Cordova, of Puerto Rican ancestry, is playing elf Arondir. This came after the controversy over Game of Thrones spin-off House of Dragons in which Steve Toussaint, a black British actor, is in the cast.
Why should neither matter? It shouldn’t. But for some reason, when it comes to fandom, it’s basically like bleach – for whites only.
The horrible thing about LOTR that J.R.R. Tolkein wrote and Peter Jackson upheld was potraying people of color as the villains. Take the scene in The Two Towers when Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) falls down the hills outside the Gates to Mordor.There’s a march of an army of humans who looks non-white. They have brown skin and a sinister look in their eyes as they walk over closer to see what’s up because they’ve saw rocks rolling down the hill. Luckily, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is able to able to use a cloak to hide them.
But later in The Return of the King, Mordor’s soldiers on the Oliphant looks brown-skinned too. It may be Middle Earth but they look like they’re from the Middle-East. And that’s perfectly okay with some Tolkein fans as long as the heroes are white. The same issue came up when Arwen (Liv Tyler) was supposed to fight with the other Elves alongside the people of Rohan at the Battle for Helms Deep. Even though the Elves don’t appear at this battle in the book, there was still criticism of Arwen’s involvement because she was the only woman. Jackson later cut most of her scenes from this part of the movie even though you can see her in a few quick shots.
I never got into Game of Thrones, but I am a fan of Star Wars and damn! The fans are very much a bunch of racist, bigots, sexists and misogynistic creeps.
When I was growing up, Billy Dee Williams was always Lando Calrissian. I didn’t have any problem with it even though I’m sure there was. But I was just a young kid. And despite the prequels featuring Samuel L. Jackson as Jedi Master Mace Windu, it seems some people were okay with some of the stereotypes. The Gungans talk in a “Massa” stereotype black dialect. Watto seems to be a Jewish stereotype of greed and shady tricks. Then, there’s Nute Gunray, Viceroy of the Trade Foundation, that sounds a little like the “Me so solly” East Asian stereotype.
Many fans didn’t like it but when they tried to discuss it, they were shut down with criticism. Yet, they show Jason Boyega as a stromtrooper in a teaser of The Force Awakens and everyone goes nuts. It was even worse for Rose Tico in The Last Jedi as Kelly Marie Tran had to quit her social media because of the abundance of negative comments.
This ugliness over the bigotry in fandom was even addressed to an extent in the second season of Stranger Things when Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin) dresses up as Dr. Peter Venkman instead of Winston Zeddemore for Halloween. Venkman is portrayed by Bill Murray in Ghostbusters while Zeddemore is portrayed by Ernie Hudson. Why can’t Lucas be Venkman? Ok, people will argue that Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) being Zeddemore would be racist, but I think this goes back to when Eddie Murphy was intended to be in the role and Zeddemore was supposed to be a scientist with a doctorate like the rest.
And while I wasn’t a fan of the 2016 Ghostbusters, it wasn’t because they were women. It was because it was a totally bad idea to remake the movie regardless of who was in the cast. Also, it was poorly made with the cast all trying to get the last laugh, which is something I don’t like in comedies nowadays. It didn’t have the flow the original Ghostbusters had. Yet, I don’t think it deserved the misogynistic anti-women criticism that it deserved.
Fandom only became mainstream in the later 2000s as the ideas of Comic Con, DragonCon and the MCU went mainstream. The notion that someone who might have been a jock back in the day could still like Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR or comic books was absurd. You were supposed to grow out of that the moment you realized you were growing a lot of hair in places where there was no hair before. Yet fandom is no different than the millions of people who love sports or NASCAR racing.
And sadly, there’s prejudice there, too. Look at what happened to Tiger Woods, Danica Patrick, Venus and Serena Williams, and so forth. Rush Limbaugh, may he rot in Hell, said that so much was being made of Donovan McNabb being a quarterback was just because he was black and a lot of people agreed with him. QBs are supposed to be cornfed white boys like Brett Fav-rah. But that’s not always the case. McNabb was a good quarterback.
What’s even more hysterical is the people who would be critical of BIPOC being characters are the ones more than likely to be the people who scream, “All lives matter” or how they “don’t see color” in people. Yet, they’re upset about fictional characters in something that isn’t real being BIPOC or women. Maybe it’s because the “nerds” and “geeks” have spent years being bullied, that it has unfortunately rubbed on them. Prejudice begets prejudice.
People who grow up in a certain environment only seem to behave like they’re in that enviroment. Let’s change that environment.
What do you think? Please comment.