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Super Social Analysis: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and LGBT in Movies

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This weekend at the movies I saw a trailer for "Jupiter Ascending." The movie is about Mila Kunis's character Jupiter, and Mila appeared in every scene I watched. Channing Tatum was her lover/muscle man/helper, and he was not in every scene I watched. But on IMDB, he has top billing over Mila Kunis. Is Channing that much more famous that Mila? Or maybe he's in more scenes than the trailer suggested, and he actually has more screen time than Mila?

This was the second trailer.  The first one had more Channing than Mila or at least equal screentime.  I'm not sure if they feel like Mila has a lot more buzz now since her pregnancy and baby with Ashton but they pushed back the date on the movie and there was talk that the second trailer would feature her more.  Maybe it had to do with the tracking or testing of the trailer. 

 

Overall I would say that Channing is the much bigger star than Mila.  But Mila is still a favored celebrity and she was great in "OZ".

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This weekend at the movies I saw a trailer for "Jupiter Ascending." The movie is about Mila Kunis's character Jupiter, and Mila appeared in every scene I watched. Channing Tatum was her lover/muscle man/helper, and he was not in every scene I watched. But on IMDB, he has top billing over Mila Kunis. Is Channing that much more famous that Mila? Or maybe he's in more scenes than the trailer suggested, and he actually has more screen time than Mila?

 

 

I know IMDB likes to rate the stars according to popularity, so I imagine that would have something to do with it?  I don't know if it's a black and white issue of sexism in this case.  It's true that Kunis is the title character and I'm sure she has equal scenes as Tatum, if not more.  But Tatum is the bigger name right now; he's been doing quite well for the past few years.  He's also getting good critical praise for Foxcatcher.  It's not unusual for the bigger name to get a higher ranking even if they aren't the star.  Kunis hasn't done as well; the last two well-performing movies were in 2010 (Black Swan) and 2012 (Ted), and she wasn't the star in either.  And she just had a baby, which meant she didn't work much over the last six months. 

 

I think IMDB can be user edited as well, they may switch Kunis' name and Tatum's before the film is released.

 

Plus, Jupiter Ascending was pushed to February of next year, which doesn't bode well for it.  I think the producers want to drum up any kind of good publicity, and Tatum's name can sell seats.

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Ridley Scott talks about the Exodus casting

Like most high-profile religious pictures since Martin Scorsese’s 1988 “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Exodus” became the subject of intense media scrutiny before Scott had ever exposed a frame of (digital) film on stages at London’s Pinewood Studios and on location in Spain. Much of the outcry online stemmed from his decision to cast white American, European and Australian actors in most of the key roles, no matter that the same could be said of “The Passion of the Christ,” “Noah,” “The Ten Commandments” and virtually any other big-budget Bible movies. “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,” Scott says. “I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

Sigh. 

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Ridley Scott talks about the Exodus casting

 

*Sigh* is right. And this is what kills me. When people complain about Woody Allen or other film makers not having POC in their movies, a common argument is "he's telling his story. POC need to tell their own stories." The Exodus story is a story about Middle Eastern people--Jewish and Egyptian people. But Ridley Scott made a story about people of color that doesn't include actors of color because studios might not finance it. And this is okay? He's able to present a big-budget film to the world that erroneously portrays everyone in the Exodus story as white?

 

Say what you will about Tyler Perry. But he didn't cast Robin Williams to play Madea because he was worried about studio financing.

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Christian Bale throws in his two cents, too:

I don't know the fact that I was born in Wales and suffer with this skin that can't deal with the sun should dictate that Ridley should say, 'In that case, he's not the right man to play the role.' I did the best that I can. I'm certainly not going to pass it up. It's a hell of a role."

ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME.

 

Bale just encapsulated clueless white privilege everywhere. And with that last line: Yeah, because great parts come along so rarely for white men?

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What's the line about gaffes? Something about a gaffe isn't when you tell a lie, but when you tell the truth (or the truth as you perceive it).

 

I would have thought the Spanish government gave tens of millions of dollars in tax credits so that much of the movie would be filmed in Spain, thereby generating work for locals, and to develop Spain's movie industry.  But I guess Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy must a huge fan of Christian Bale.  Who knew?

 

One thing I really don't get is that Exodus isn't exactly a new story, and there's a potentially enormous built-in audience, plus there's a lot of potential for action and special effects. It's kind of hard to screw-up provided you come up with a decent script and half-way intelligent marketing plan.  I wouldn't think it would be that important who plays Moses provided the actor does a good job, and I doubt Christian Bale comes cheap.

 

FX's Tyrant caught a lot of shit for casting a white British guy as the lead, but at least they also cast Ashraf Barhom as Jamal, Moran Atias as Leila and Raad Rawi as Tariq, to name three of my favorite characters.  Ashraf Barholm is about 35 so he's young enough to pull off some younger Moses scenes (if there are any).  Of course, that particular actor may have not have been free due to Tyrant or other prior commitments.

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"I don't know the fact that I was born in Wales and suffer with this skin that can't deal with the sun should dictate that Ridley should say, 'In that case, he's not the right man to play the role.' "

Hey Christian, actors who were born with skin that CAN handle tons of sun have to deal with that all the time including in this very instance! SMH

But fine, if he wants to argue for completely colorblind casting, he can feel free to do it as soon as it becomes just as common and accepted for Gugu Mbatha Raw to play Elizabeth I as for him to play Moses.

Edited by cynic
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SMH, why is Christian Bale taking this so personally?  No one begrudges him the opportunity to take a good part when it comes along.  The criticism is with Ridley and the studio.  This is why sometimes "no comment" is the best answer.  Or maybe, "You have to take that up with the studio and casting. I am an actor for hire, and I would hope that I did the script and my director justice."

 

Also what is with this idea that every competent actor is right for every role.  Its complete nonsense.  I'm an actor in LA and there are lots of roles on paper that I feel I could play but I don't because I don't feel that I would be a good fit for the character.  Christian the point isn't that you aren't competent enough to play the role, the point is that why on a movie that is primarily about people of color is a majority of the cast white? 

 

Hey Christian, did you audition to play MLK in "Selma" or Cecil Gaines in "The Butler"? I'm sure that you are competent enough to play those roles acting wise, that doesn't mean you are right for the role.

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SMH, why is Christian Bale taking this so personally?  No one begrudges him the opportunity to take a good part when it comes along.  The criticism is with Ridley and the studio.  This is why sometimes "no comment" is the best answer.  Or maybe, "You have to take that up with the studio and casting. I am an actor for hire, and I would hope that I did the script and my director justice."

 

Not to defend Mr. "You Are Trashing My Scene!" or anything, but I think it can also be a thin line between criticizing the actor for taking the part and criticizing the director and/or studio for the actor being cast. Jennifer Lawrence, for instance. In Lawrence's case, its become that not only is she blonde and blue eyed, making her "wrong" for the part of Katniss Everdeen, but also that her looks  are too "contemporary" to play someone in a period piece, or something along those lines anyway. Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland gets cast as Coriolanus Snow in the same franchise to not so much as a peep as far as I'm aware of. Sure, Snow is the heavy, but by all rights shouldn't he also be as non-white looking as Katniss?

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Not to defend Mr. "You Are Trashing My Scene!" or anything, but I think it can also be a thin line between criticizing the actor for taking the part and criticizing the director and/or studio for the actor being cast. Jennifer Lawrence, for instance. In Lawrence's case, its become that not only is she blonde and blue eyed, making her "wrong" for the part of Katniss Everdeen, but also that her looks  are too "contemporary" to play someone in a period piece, or something along those lines anyway. Meanwhile, Donald Sutherland gets cast as Coriolanus Snow in the same franchise to not so much as a peep as far as I'm aware of. Sure, Snow is the heavy, but by all rights shouldn't he also be as non-white looking as Katniss?

 

No, they're not supposed to look alike. Katniss is from District 12 while Snow is from the Capital. The physical difference between them should highlight the difference in situation, only Jennifer Lawrence doesn't look like book Katniss. I'm still bothered that someone described as having "straight black hair, olive skin, and grey eyes" is played by Jennifer Lawrence but that's on the studio who only auditioned white actresses, not on her. This franchise made her and I can't blame her for wanting the part.

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I do tend to judge white A-listers who take on whitewashed POC roles (e.g. Christian Bale). You can have your pick of any role, and you choose this one? It's why I rolled my eyes when Bale said that he wasn't going to turn down Moses because it was a "hell of a role." It's not like similarly meaty roles are in such short supply for white male actors. Yeah, actors like Christian aren't in charge of casting, but they are part of the problem in how happy they are to go along with it. 

 

Someone on another message board talked about how they talked to Joel Edgerton at a screening, and IIRC he acknowledged the concerns over the casting and said that he basically took on the role because he wanted to work with Ridley Scott. From what the message board poster said, he handled the question a lot better than Bale did. Plus, I don't think Joel is as much of a name/A-lister as Bale is.

 

Jennifer Lawrence wasn't an A-lister back when she was cast as Katniss - she had a lot of attention thanks to Winter's Bone, but that was all basic "rookie of the year" stuff. She wasn't in the same stratosphere that she is in now. So I didn't really blame her for taking the role itself, but she did say some stupid stuff about the casting controversy that I did judge her for. 

Edited by galax-arena
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Wait. Is this actually a thing? Are people seriously objecting to the idea of a black stormtrooper? Let me guess. It's unrealistic for a black person to be in the imperial forces of a completely made up galaxy a long time ago and far away, right? Yeah, that would be way more ridiculous than a bunch of natural blondes playing Egyptian royalty. :-/

http://m.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/of-course-there-are-black-stormtroopers-in-star-wars/383259/

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I think that the real issue is not that he is a Black Stormtrooper, but a British Stormtrooper; he should be in the mid-range officer class at the very least.

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Stormtroppers are supposed to be clones of Boba Fett's father who was white.  I assume either JJ Abrams is ignoring that part of the mythology or we are supposed to assume other people were cloned too or clones aren't being used any more for stormtroppers or the actor is supposed to be impersonating a stormtropper like Luke did in A New Hope.  I can understand surprise at seeing another actor other than Boba Fett's father as a stormtropper because of  the whole clone thing but that's no justification for racist remarks.   Some people would probably be upset to see anyone other than Boba Fett's father used even if he were white just because they like consistency in the story telling or because they are fans of Boba Fett (I know I was plenty pissy about changes George Lucas made when he created the prequels.  I still haven't gotten over the whole concept of midichlorians.   I hope JJ Abrams drops that crap.).  But like I pointed out there are reasonable explanations for the change in stormtroppers and so it's awful that people are using the change as an excuse to post rasict bs.

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I think that the real issue is not that he is a Black Stormtrooper, but a British Stormtrooper; he should be in the mid-range officer class at the very least.

 

How would anyone know if the character is British?  He doesn't speak in the teaser.  

Edited by ribboninthesky1

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The original Stormtroopers who were clones would be old men by Episode VII. Star Wars Rebels is still canon, and in that regular civilians are shown being trained as Stormtroopers.

Edited by ApathyMonger

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I'll admit it threw me when I first saw the trailer but I also immediately assumed that we were going to learn that there were other clones besides the Fett ones and that maybe this one had become aware or something (since the prequels made a point to say that the genes were messed with to make the clones less likely to think for themselves and later revolt).  The character pulling a Luke and Han from the first movie actually make way more sense.

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But Jango Fett wasn't white either, he was played by a Maori actor.

 

I never assumed the stormtroopers from a New Hope were the same from the Episodes I-III, and they all had distinct voices which they wouldn't if they were clones.

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How would anyone know if the character is British?  He doesn't speak in the teaser.  

That would be their fault for not looking up the actor. Seriously, though, I would be interested to hear how he does with an American accent in a full-length movie. He did fine with his small role in 24 (better than a couple of the other actors in that season did), but I am not sure if that flat affect would hold up for me for much longer than that.

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I just went on the IMDB boards and wow, there are a lot of offensive posts. The racism is strong with them. One of my favorites lamented that Boyega looked too much like an ordinary black guy that you would see in downtown Atlanta. It's not that he's <i> black</i> you see, just that he's not exotic looking enough to be in a space movie. Hmm, well <i> exotic</i> isn't the first word that springs to my mind when I look at Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher, but to each their own I guess.

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Glad he addressed the issue in such a classy way.

 

That being said, we're still talking about Rue from The Hunger Games? In the book, Rue was a 12-year old black girl. SMH

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I'm sure there will be many things in Abrams' movie worth getting up in arms about, but I just can't see the race of a stormtrooper being one of them. Well, unless he follows George Lucas' lead from the prequels and has someone acting like a blatant stereotype, anyway.

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The author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, mentioned Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary specifically in an interview with Vulture;

 

 

I remember seeing There’s Something About Mary in the theaters when I was in my 20s, and there’s Cameron Diaz, who looks like Cameron Diaz, but she’s also a doctor, and she also loooves hamburgers, and she starts out playing golf in the morning, and all she wants from a man is a guy who wants to take her to a football game, and she wants to eat hot dogs and drink real beer. Real beer! And I thought, Wow, that’s a cool girl! And then I thought, Oh, right. She’s been invented by guys.

 

http://www.vulture.com/2014/10/gone-girls-gillian-flynn-on-cool-girls.html

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Glad he addressed the issue in such a classy way.

That being said, we're still talking about Rue from The Hunger Games? In the book, Rue was a 12-year old black girl. SMH

As one who tends to skim physical descriptions in books myself, I can see how people who enjoy the privilege of having most fictional characters look like them would assume that once again, a major character looks like them. Sad, but understandable.

What still boggles my mind is the number of people who some how missed the fact that Cho Chang in Harry Potter was Asian. Cho Chang. The privilege is strong with some people.

Of course, the number of people who stated things like Rue being black made her death less sad made me want to both punch something and weep for humanity.

A Boston Gal, yeah, I particularly enjoyed the guy who compared John Boyega's casting to having an Asian play Malcolm X. SMH Those are nothing compared to the hate fest on IMDB though.

Edited by cynic
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What still boggles my mind is the number of people who some how missed the fact that Cho Chang in Harry Potter was Asian. Cho Chang. The privilege is strong with some people.

 

And yet one of the funniest things of the truly funny "A Very Potter Musical" is how Ginny gets in trouble for assuming that the Asian girl is Cho Chang.

 

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As one who tends to skim physical descriptions in books myself, I can see how people who enjoy the privilege of having most fictional characters look like them would assume that once again, a major character looks like them. Sad, but understandable.

What still boggles my mind is the number of people who some how missed the fact that Cho Chang in Harry Potter was Asian. Cho Chang. The privilege is strong with some people.

Of course, the number of people who stated things like Rue being black made her death less sad made me want to both punch something and weep for humanity.

A Boston Gal, yeah, I particularly enjoyed the guy who compared John Boyega's casting to having an Asian play Malcolm X. SMH Those are nothing compared to the hate fest on IMDB though.

Is this the rabid fan base that seems to needs to be catered to every time a remake gets made?  How sad.  You can have and encourage your imagination enough that you can allow yourself to get lost in this fantastical world of space travel and different galaxies but what makes people's blood boil is good old fashioned racism. 

 

Comparing John as a storm trooper to an Asian actor playing Malcolm just really makes me weep for this country. 

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This may very well have become a meme already, but this just occurred to me yesterday.

 

The actor who plays the Black Stormtrooper got his big break in a movie called Attack the Block, where he played a character named...Moses.

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Comparing John as a storm trooper to an Asian actor playing Malcolm

 

This is a little interesting coming after Christian Bale's "why should my skin color keep me from playing a great role" thing...  At some point, I'd kinda like to see an Asian actor playing Malcolm X.  Preferably when non-white actors are no longer competing for a very limited pool of casting opportunities.

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 Those racist assholes who are bitching about John Boyega in the new Star Wars movie give Star Wars fans, nerds and humanity a bad name. To hear them talk, it's like Mace Windu and Lando Calrissian-who, last time I checked, were Black- never existed. What about James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, who's also Black? What about George Lucas, who created the series in the first place, who's also married to Melody Hobson, a financial adviser who's also a Black woman? Apparently, the losers  have no problem with Black characters as long as they're heard, but not seen. They epitomize the old sayings "It's far better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt" and "Those who matter don't mind and those who mind, don't matter."  As for Boyega's character, he could be one of the Rebels posing as a Stormtrooper, like Luke and Han did in the first Star Wars and even if he's not, so what? Kudos to Boyega for not letting the haters get to him-publically, anyway.

 

 

Comparing John as a storm trooper to an Asian actor playing Malcolm just really makes me weep for my country.

 

  Same here. An actor of color playing a fictional character is one thing; an actor of one race playing a historical person of another is another, as far as I'm concerned.

Edited by DollEyes
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As for Boyega's character, he could be one of the Rebels posing as a Stormtrooper, like Luke and Han did in the first Star Wars and even if he's not, so what? Kudos to Boyega for not letting the haters get to him-publically, anyway.

 

That was exactly my thought, plus he was panicked w/o his helmet, so,yeah.

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As one who tends to skim physical descriptions in books myself, I can see how people who enjoy the privilege of having most fictional characters look like them would assume that once again, a major character looks like them. Sad, but understandable.

What still boggles my mind is the number of people who some how missed the fact that Cho Chang in Harry Potter was Asian. Cho Chang. The privilege is strong with some people.

Of course, the number of people who stated things like Rue being black made her death less sad made me want to both punch something and weep for humanity.

A Boston Gal, yeah, I particularly enjoyed the guy who compared John Boyega's casting to having an Asian play Malcolm X. SMH Those are nothing compared to the hate fest on IMDB though.

To the bolded - people actually said this??  That is absolutely sickening.  

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To the bolded - people actually said this??  That is absolutely sickening.  

It was definitely said and echoed by many.  It was a big issue when the first movie came out. 

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"why does rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie"
"why did the producer make all the good characters black smh"
"EWW rue is black?? I'm not watching"
"Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad #ihatemyself" (me: #youshould)
"why is Rue a little black girl? #sticktothebookDUDE" (me: #readthebookDUDE)
"HOW IN THE WORLD ARE THEY GOING TO MAKE RUE A FREAKIN BLACK BITCH IN THE MOVIE?!?!?!??! lolol not to be racist buuuuut.... I'm angry now ;o"
"Sense [sic] when has Rue been a n*gger" (without the asterisk, obvs)

 

All actual tweets.

 

Got those from here. There was a whole tumblr dedicated to the tweets, too.

Edited by galax-arena
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     But yeah, there's like some weird thing about how you want the actresses to look hot, but you also don't want to admit they work out fanatically and eat very little to maintain their size 2 figures. On t.v., you saw that with the Gilmore Girls.

 

      I kind of wonder what it'd be like for the Cool Girl (the regular Joe/Bro fantasy girl) to clash against the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (the quirky hipster dream girl.)

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Sticking with the Hunger Games theme for a tick, I have to go back and read the books because I also tend to skim over physical descriptions and thus can never remember if Katniss was described as having olive skin or not. But let's say that someone other than Jennifer Lawrence was cast in the role, following the book's lead and making her non-white. Doesn't that make the casting of Sutherland a little problematic, or is it still not an issue because the Capitol represents oppression of the beleaguered and heroic Katniss? Then there's Julianne Moore's Alma Coin, and for those of you who haven't read the books yet, I won't spoil what's coming in the second half of Mockingjay. If they stick to the events of the book exactly as they happened, then Coin turns out to be not what she seems.

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The character of Katniss is supposed to be much darker than Jennifer Lawrence.  A lot of people did seem to have issues with her being cast initially because many thought that the role when cast would go to a young actress of color.  All those complaints sort of dissipated because Jennifer is great in the role and a very likable actress. But there where issues with her casting initially as well.  

 

This sort of harkened back to the absurdity of the idea that "Rue's death doesn't affect me because she is black" racism when the main character these "people" are rooting for isn't "white" either.  But then again racists aren't known for their intellectual astuteness. 

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Book Katniss is said to have olive skin, straight black hair and gray eyes. The casting call only asked for white actresses, even though people who don't identify as white could also fall under that physical description. Another contender for Katniss was Hailee Steinfeld, who doesn't exactly fit the physical description from the books either, but not as far off as JLaw, and her ancestry might have diminished some of the criticisms about the limited scope of the casting call.

 

I tried to give the kids who didn't realize Cho Chang or the Patil twins weren't white something of a pass, since the Potter fandom could skew very young. The book did mention Dean being black, so maybe they figured that if there other non-white characters, it also would've said so in the books (but then, you have the Rue example with THG, so...maybe not). There were probably slightly older girls who thought (hoped?) it was an Alexa Chung situation, so they too would be considered for those open auditions to play Harry Potter's date/girlfriend.

 

I always wondered if they did those open auditions for roles like Cho and the Patils because the British talent agencies didn't have that many young actors of color on their rosters. Not that they didn't have any, but for a part like Cedric, they probably just put out a notice to all the agencies and were sent dozens, possibly hundreds of head shots of young, handsome white actors to consider. They rifled through them to find the ones who could reasonably pass for a 17 year old (by Hollywood standards), called those guys in for auditions and picked the most suitable one. But for Cho, maybe there were only a dozen young actresses already booked with talent agencies who would've been the right age, but some might not have been able to commit to months of filming, or weren't "Hollywood pretty", had the wrong vibe, a mismatch with the leading man, etc. It wasn't like those movies demanded acting prodigies, so they threw it out to the masses, figuring they could find schoolgirls to do a decent enough job. Interestingly, the HP production ended up casting Luna the same way after going the more traditional route first.

Edited by Dejana

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Thanks for the link. I like Chris Rock's take on social issues. Loved this quote:

 

You're telling me no Mexicans are qualified to do anything at a studio? Really? Nothing but mop up? What are the odds that that's true? The odds are, because people are people, that there's probably a Mexican David Geffen mopping up for somebody's company right now. The odds are that there's probably a Mexican who's that smart who's never going to be given a shot. And it's not about being given a shot to greenlight a movie because nobody is going to give you that — you've got to take that. The shot is that a Mexican guy or a black guy is qualified to go and give his opinion about how loud the boings are in Dodgeball or whether it's the right shit sound you hear when Jeff Daniels is on the toilet in Dumb and Dumber. It's like, "We only let white people do that." This is a system where only white people can chime in on that.

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Yes, he did sound more sad than outraged. I suppose it would sound different if he were presenting these ideas as part of one of his stand-up acts

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The character of Katniss is supposed to be much darker than Jennifer Lawrence.

 

I have always understood olive skin to refer to Mediterranean complexion, which yes, is darker than Jennifer Lawrence but is still within the ethnicities generally classified as white (Italian, Southern Spanish, etc.). I've never understood the expectation that Katniss would have been played by an actress of color, and it does bother me the way people will talk about Jennifer Lawrence's casting as a clear-cut case of whitewashing.

Also, the whole casting call thing is weird to me. Jennifer Lawrence was already a rising star with major awards due to Winter Bone, so she was obviously not solicited through an open call. Per the Internet, Malese Jow (who is partially Chinese), Kaya Scodelario (half-Brazilian), and Hailee Steinfeld (partially Filipina) were all in contention for the role so assuming that's accurate, the casting was clearly not limited to exclusively white actresses despite what the casting call said.

 

It was definitely said and echoed by many.  It was a big issue when the first movie came out.

 

I don't think it's accurate to say Amandla Stenberg's casting was a big issue. Random people on Twitter made racist comments about Rue, and then bloggers picked it up and publicized the tweets. It wasn't like there was a mass media uproar or anything. It's the type of thing we would never have known about in the pre-Internet area unless those were our friends. Sadly, people have probably made comments like that about all actors of color in significant roles. 

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I have always understood olive skin to refer to Mediterranean complexion, which yes, is darker than Jennifer Lawrence but is still within the ethnicities generally classified as white (Italian, Southern Spanish, etc.). I've never understood the expectation that Katniss would have been played by an actress of color, and it does bother me the way people will talk about Jennifer Lawrence's casting as a clear-cut case of whitewashing.

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Olive actually refers to undertones in the skin rather than a particular skin color or ethnicity. People with olive skin have green undertones as opposed to the more common red or yellow. Many people do tend to use the term olive when they are trying to refer to people who are from Mediterranean areas (probably originally because olive undertones are common there) or even people who are just tanned, but it really doesn't mean that. You can be very pale with olive skin and very dark with olive skin. I can't stand when make up tutorials get that wrong and offer tips for olive skins that are in actuality tips for golden tan skin. It's so hard to find tips for true olives, especially if you don't fall in that Mediterranean skin color range people associate it with. I'm biracial with a caramel complexion and olive undertones. It's a freaking nightmare to find foundation. I had one Mac artist look at me critically and then gingerly say that I had a lovely green cast to my skin. Then, he slathered me with some yellow-based primer to "just offset that green a bit". But I thought you said it was lovely. /sarcasm It wasn't his fault though. My skin color and green undertone actually do clash quite a bit. It's not a good combo and I've always been envious of my sister's lovely warm undertones. That's probably why I'm so sensitive when people have tried to tell me that because I'm brown, I'm not olive skinned. Oh believe me, I wish I wasn't, but I am.

Anyway, all that's to say that the olive bit didn't necessarily tell us anything about Katniss' ethnicity. I was actually picturing her as maybe multiracial, maybe Caucasian and Native American. I've heard that's a common mix in the Appalachia area and it would make sense with the straight black hair and gray eyes. It also made sense to me that the mix could also produce siblings with such different coloration, since her sister is blonde.

Edited by cynic

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I've read some interesting arguments that even if Katniss were white, in her time, someone with olive skin, black hair and gray eyes was equivalent to a person of color, so casting a woman of color would have been a more appropriate representation, even though she was described as racially ambiguous. There's a distinct class system in District 12 with blond hair/blue eyed merchants who cater to political officials, and the black hair/gray eyed seam class who live in poverty and work dangerous jobs in the mines. The lottery they use for the reaping system is skewed in the merchant class's favor because the country's version of welfare is to put your kid's name in the bowl more times in exchange for food. Therefore it's highly more likely that a kid from the seam is going to get reaped every year and according to the book, that's usually the case. Peeta and Prim getting reaped is an anomaly. They chose to ignore the racial divide in the movie, which is unfortunate, because with all the debates going on about White Privilege, I think it's very relevant. 

Edited by absnow54
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Per the Internet, Malese Jow (who is partially Chinese), Kaya Scodelario (half-Brazilian),

As far as I know, these two weren’t in contention, that was just wishful fancasting. And Hailee had been getting a lot of attention for her role in True Grit, so the producers might have been willing to overlook her race, especially since she can pass as white. But that doesn’t mean that other POC actresses weren’t at a disadvantage thanks to the exclusionary casting call. 

 

There is no way that TPTB would have cast someone like Malese, who codes as more Asian than Hailee does. Any attention that Malese got for Katniss was because fans threw out her name as a POC actress who could do well in the role, and Malese herself was campaigning for it.

 

I have always understood olive skin to refer to Mediterranean complexion, which yes, is darker than Jennifer Lawrence but is still within the ethnicities generally classified as white (Italian, Southern Spanish, etc.). I've never understood the expectation that Katniss would have been played by an actress of color,

Katniss’ race was ambiguous. She was never definitely identified as POC, no, but she was never definitely identified as white, either. And “olive complexion” can go either way. And IMO if you look at the context, then it would have made more sense for her to be POC instead of Mediterranean. I mean, the story took place in the future and Word of God herself admitted that there had been a lot of racial/ethnic mixing when someone asked her about this issue (and then of course she backtracked). Take that along with the setting (Appalachia), and it seemed like it would have made more sense for her to be based on the Melungeons than Mediterranean.

Edited by galax-arena
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