Tag Archives: Emma Stone

Evan and Gordon Talk: Racially Accurate Casting

EVAN: Today’s topic is something that I hold very near and dear to my heart. Years of research on the topic has made me witness to all of the arguments that can be used against needing to have racially accurate casting, and because of this I’m going to propose something a little different

GORDON: Namely?

EVAN: That I switch sides for this conversation, and speak out against it.

GORDON: Intriguing. Mind starting us off with the first salvo?

EVAN: Statement: Racially accurate casting is not important. The most talented actor should be the one who gets the role.

GORDON: Doesn’t appearance play a key role in what makes an actor good? Peter Dinklage is good, but you wouldn’t really find him believable playing Abraham Lincoln or Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

EVAN: In this case his stature, not his race, is what would keep him from playing either role in a convincing manner.

GORDON: But isn’t that essentially the same issue? Imagine the great Denzel Washington playing Lincoln- you’d be sitting there the entire time, no matter how much of a powerhouse Washington would be, taken out of the film because you have to deal with a black guy playing a white guy during the height of the civil war.

In any piece of film where you’re expecting realism, you’re going to expect the actors to conform to the styles and facts of the time. If you portray Georgia in the 1960s, you’re obviously not going to have a largely black cast portraying the upper class  or if you were to set the scene in early 1900s Ghana  you wouldn’t have a cast comprised of Caucasians. It wouldn’t make sense, no matter how good they are.

EVAN: If anything, Cloud Atlas at least proves that a talented actor can portray whoever they like, given an adequate amount of makeup. Halle Berry plays a Korean Man in the film, and does so in a convincing fashion that doesn’t at all take viewers out of the film in the least.

GORDON: I haven’t seen that film, so I can’t speak to the use of the actors for the parts they play. From my understanding that was a work of fantasy (or science fiction, I’m only going off what I can gather from the trailers). And in one or two movies, it’s probably not a big deal. After all, Cate Blanchett played Bob Dylan.

But imagine this applied to each and every movie, it simply wouldn’t work. Realism would deteriorate- and this would be especially detrimental in a film trying to deal directly with race relations.

EVAN: I personally feel that allowing any race to play any other speaks much more in terms of race relations. That’s a world where colour is a non-issue  because it shouldn’t be.

EVAN: I’m dying, Gordon. My life force is seeping out of me.

GORDON: Try to stick with it…

GORDON: And while it’s true that race ought to be a non-issue, that’s simply not how things are or have been in the past. Using black actors to play black characters and white actors to play white characters is fundamental to demonstrating past inequity and injustice with American racism and segregation. And that’s just one element.

Let’s talk about Indians playing Arabs. It happened in Lost and it happened in Community (with multiple actors), but Arabs look nothing like Indians. Indian actors are used simply because they fit the stereotype of what most people think an Arab looks like. It perpetuates an inaccuracy.

EVAN: Isn’t the fact that the role is an Arab important a large enough step? This is a minority with a major role on a TV show, and an opportunity for minority actors to step up, which they have in both cases.

GORDON: Barring Monk and Arrested Development, when’s the last time you saw an Arab actor? I’m not trying to argue against Indian actors, or actors of Indian heritage getting roles, but for the purpose of portraying the world as it is (or at least with some realism) we should have actors with some vague resemblance to the people they’re portraying on film.

After all, would you not be thrown off by guys with German accents playing French resistance fighters during WWII?

EVAN: If they had German accents then they simply wouldn’t be right for the role, which brings me back to my first point.

GORDON: Which, by proxy, brings us back to my first response. Ethnicity (depending on the situation) is just as valid an element of a guy’s candidacy for a role dealing directly with ethnicity as accents, or height, or any other factor (actual talent, of course, being the most important).

Vincent Cassel should probably not play Malcolm X. Adrien Brody should probably not play the Queen of England, though that would be pretty funny.

EVAN: If we’re going to stick with believability, than why is it so important that Indians not play Arabs? No one has ever made a big deal out of this, so clearly people believe that they are what their role calls them to be-

Likewise a Korean can to play a Chinese person can play a Japanese person. Audiences can’t tell the difference and believe that they are whatever the role is, and that’s okay.

GORDON: But Koreans do not look Chinese, Chinese people don’t look Japanese, and Arabs and Indians certainly don’t look like each other. The only reason this happens is because most people either don’t know (partly due to this inaccurate casting) or don’t care (in other words, all non-whites are basically one homogenous mass.

If all your life, you had seen black men and been told “these are Uzbekistanis,” then you’d go your whole life simply assuming that Uzbekistanis are, in fact, indiscernible from guys from Benin.

Your ignorance should not dictate which actors get which parts. Further, no Uzbekistan could really ever get a chance to play and Uzbekistani because of the years of misinformation.

EVAN: But there is a huge difference between a black person and an Uzbekistani. The examples I made have similarities that the example you used clearly does not.

To be such a stickler for accuracy is the other extreme, and just as wrong. You wouldn’t get someone with mental problems to accurately portray a character with mental problems, that just doesn’t make sense. Race should matter if it is noticeable, and like I said in the case of shows like Lost it is not.

EVAN: The logic above was used against me by someone in a thread on Reddit  You can check out our exchange here.

GORDON: Granted, my example was extreme, but that doesn’t change the point. Even though a Thai guy and a Japanese guy share more similarities than a Beninese guy and an Uzbekistani guy, there are still distinct differences between people from Thailand and people from Japan.

With regards to being a stickler- I admit, as I have previously, that you don’t have to have an exact replica of the character you’re trying to portray. Jet Li, I imagine, is doing pretty well for himself, and I still wouldn’t doubt his ability to portray a poor man very well. However, while you don’t need to be point for point, you do need to have some general similarity. That’s why we don’t have Emma Stone portraying Fidel Castro.

EVAN: I feel like the extremeness of your examples is damaging your point. If we’re sticking with race we should do that, and not bring in gender.

GORDON: It’s to demonstrate the underlying point in all of this: Verisimilitude. Realism. Accuracy.

EVAN: And since you said “you don’t have to have an exact replica of the character you’re trying to portray” why isn’t it okay to have Naveen Andrews play Sayid Jarrah on Lost?

GORDON: But the distinction is great enough. The accent is Indian, not Iraqi. Naveen does not look Iraqi. When an actor neither looks nor sounds like the character he is meant to portray, we have a problem.

EVAN: So if Jarrah had managed to sound Iraqi, would that have helped?

GORDON: It would’ve added to the realism and accuracy, yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s very clearly Indian, not Arab.

EVAN: Clear to a very select few. As mentioned, people didn’t seem to notice for the most part.

GORDON: Clear to a very select few. As mentioned, people didn’t seem to notice for the most part.

Most people don’t know what an Arab looks like. Do they know that Monk is Lebanese? That Cousin Maeby is Iraqi? Most do not. Ignorance is not an excuse for inaccurate casting.

EVAN: And that brings our exhausting exchange to an end. Trying to argue for something I so strongly disagree was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done. I hope that in reading this you were able to see the holes in my argument and the truth in Gordon’s.

GORDON: Booyah.

The past few paragraphs alone have had the same effect on Evan as that life-sucking device in the Princess Bride. Commend him for biting the bullet.

And as for our discussion next time, your options are: What do we make of the upcoming Star Wars sequel?

EVAN: And. . . how about . . . How much artistic merit is there in a show like Adventure Time?

GORDON: I like it.

And to our beloved and devoted followers (who would organize into a vicious and unholy army of darkness if we ever were to ask it of ’em), feel free to suggest your own topic down in the comments section.

EVAN: And, as usual, thanks for reading.

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Batman: The Dark Knight Re-Cast

Before we begin, I want to make something clear: I have not seen The Dark Knight Rises. I can’t speak to the actors or the story or Nolan’s heretical-yet-genius take on either. I am further not saying that the actors in the trilogy didn’t do a good job- they were great, however this is Culture War Reporters, and with Batman (and the whole DC Universe) being so popular right now, and with Nolan leaving for other projects, we really can’t help but speculate if Batman were to be re-done, who would be the best fit for the characters?

Bruce Wayne/Batman:

Actor: Michael Fassbender

Why We Want Him: We here at CWR aren’t the first (by a long shot) to speculate on Fassbender for the caped crusader. Simple fact of the matter is, the Irish-German actor has both proven to have the suave poise needed for Bruce Wayne (see his roles in Inglorious Basterds or X-Men: First Class) and the brutish physicality needed for Batman (see his roles in Hunger or 300). Beyond all that, the man has got the strong, square-jaw typically more associated with Batman, which while not required for a good Batman (just look at Bale) is still a plus.

Cons: I’ve never actually heard him do an American accent, so I am gambling a bit here.

Alfred Pennyworth:

Actor: John Cleese

Why We Want Him: Because he is John ****ing Cleese, one of the funniest men to have ever ministry-of-silly-walked the earth. While Michael Cane did a great job as Alfred, like Fassbender, Cleese simply looks more like the classic depiction of the Wayne’s stalwart servant.

Cons: Standing at 6’5″, Cleese is bound to dwarf everyone else on scene with him.

Dick Grayson/Robin/Night Wing:

Actor: Jensen Ackles

Why We Want Him: Obviously, this isn’t the same Robin that wears a bright yellow cape and red outfit, because, you know, who needs stealth? Ackles, simply put, has the height and build to serve as a believable counterpart to Fassbender, as well as the acting chops to match the devil-may-care personality Nightwing is usually portrayed as having.

Cons: When I was drafting this list, I told myself that I wouldn’t use anyone who had already been in a Batman movie, and as Ackles did the voice for Jason Todd/Robin in Batman: Under the Red Hood (which is a surprisingly good movie), I am sorta cheating here.

Selina Kyle/Catwoman:

Actress: Olivia Wilde

Why We Want Her: Let there be no mistake- Catwoman is no easy character to play, and many a fine actress has attempted to take on the role, only to get scratched. I won’t say that I think Wilde is at long last the one who will nail it, but rather, if I was a gambling man (which I am), my money would be on her.

Cons: Like I said, it’s a gamble with any actress- runners up would be Noomi Rapace, Zoe Saldana, or the reanimated body of Eartha Kitt. Another major point would be that Wilde, to the best of my knowledge hasn’t (to my knowledge) been in any major action roles.

The Joker:

Actor: David Tennant

Why We Want Him: Not only does Tennant look the part, but on nerd-credit alone makes for a valuable addition to the movie. We’re talking about the zaniest Doctor Who and a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In short, we have an actor good enough to do Shakespeare, who already has a history of playing semi-psyhcotic characters, who has a rabidly loyal fan following, and who has the perfect facial features for a classic Joker.

Cons: Tennant is just slightly taller than Fassbender, which while certainly making for a scary Joker, might be a bit much. Vincent Cassel might make for a decent alternative, only I’m not sure he can do an American accent.

Commissioner Jim Gordon:

Actor: Byran Cranston

Why We Want Him:
It was Evan, actually, who suggested Bryan Cranston (of Breaking Bad) for the role of Commissioner Gordon, and while I would’ve initially cited Stacey Keach as the logical choice, Cranston, while not quite as heavyset as your classic Jim Gordon, is one powerhouse of an actor (seriously, go watch Breaking Bad).

Cons: Let’s face it, Cranston, as good as he is, does look a little like Gary Oldman’s Commissioner, and there’s a decent chance that you’d have that constantly gnawing at the back of your mind while you watched the movie.

Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle:

Actress: Emma Stone

Why We Want Her:
Emma Stone is already established as a good actress (see The Help or Superbad), and unlike Wilde, has had a bit of action experience in Zombieland, and if rumors are correct, is going to be doing some action in an upcoming film called “Gangster Squad“.

Cons:
Barring her role in Zombieland action roles, I don’t know of any other action roles Stone has had, which for playing Batgirl is obviously an issue, though that could be avoided by simply skipping ahead to Oracle. Plus she just played Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man. Felicia Day would make a decent runner-up.

Edward Nigma/The Riddler:

Actor: Neil Patrick Harris

Why We Want Him: Look at him. Look at him! That is Neil Patrick Harris, and he is amazing. Look up the word “Awesome” in the dictionary. Do you see a picture of him? No, because that’s how awesome NPH is- if they put a picture of him in the dictionary nobody would ever read anything but the “Awesome” definition all the time. This guy would make a- no, the– perfect Riddler.

Cons: There are no cons- how dare you even read this! Though if NPH was too busy being awesome to play the Riddler, Steve Buscemi would be a nice backup.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot/The Penguin:

Actor: Patton Oswalt

Why We Want Him: Besides his short stature and general pudginess, comedian Patton Oswalt is a huge comic book fan, and offering him the role of the Penguin seems only right and natural.

Cons: Other than his voice acting, I don’t believe I’ve actually seen Oswalt in any films, and in off-chance his live action work isn’t up to par, there’s always Tobie Jones.

Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy:

Actress: Bryce Dallas Howard

Why We Want Her: Howard can already do some decently evil characters (see her role in The Help), and on top her general acting abilities already looks the part of the deranged eco-terrorist, Poison Ivy.

Cons: Yet again, we’re faced with the issue of a lack of any action roles to serve as evidence that Howard would do well here. Plus she was apparently in one of the Twilight movies, which is the general moral equivalent of clubbing a baby seal to death using another baby seal.

Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow:

Actor: Kevin Bacon

Why We Want Him: If you’ve ever seen the film The Hollow Man, you really wouldn’t need to ask.

Cons: The man is getting on in years, and his incarnation of the Scarecrow would probably more of an intellectual and physical antagonist.

Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze:

Actor: Hugh Laurie
Why We Want Him:
I had some difficulty trying to figure out who would make a really good Mr. Freeze (Jim Rash was my first reaction). Evan suggested Hugh Laurie, and after some consideration, I guess I can see it- it’d be neat to see Laurie in the role of the villain, at the very least.

Cons: None. The back story of Victor Fries is so touching that not even Arnold Schwarzenegger could butcher the moment they revealed it back in Batman & Robin.

Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel/Harley Quinn:

Actress: Kristen Bell

Why We Want Her: I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently there’s this push among Bell’s fans (you might remember her from Heroes, just before the series started to tank) for her to play Harley Quinn. Hey- give the people what they want.

Cons: Seeing as how Bell has already had some experience playing a super-villain, there’s really not a whole lot negative to say here.

Bane:

Actor: Jason Momoa

Why We Want Him: Look, I haven’t seen Nolan’s Bane, so I can’t make any comparison there, and with regards to the character in general, despite the whole “Count of Monte Cristo on Steroids” backstory, I’ve only ever seen Bane portrayed as a thug juiced-up on venom. Regardless of which way you’d want to take the character in a reboot, the man for the job is Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian, HBO’s Game of Thrones). The man is a freaking beast.

Cons: I’ve seen Momoa in Conan and Thrones, where he’s got a clear physical presence, but I really can’t say if he could hit the intellectual side, and really be Moriarty to Bruce Wayne’s Holmes.

Homeless Guys 1 and 2:

Cameos: Frank Miller and Alan Moore

We We Want Need Them:

As much as Miller is a raving, qausi-fascist lunatic and Moore a man who thinks he’s a wizard, it can’t be denied that both of these men have had a major impact not only on Batman, but on the world of comics- having them pass by in a seen would be, in my own opinion, a neat little salute (not the kind Miller likes, though).

Cons: There’s a strong possibility that Miller will go on a rampage when the moon wanes into a crescent, frothing at the mouth (Miller, not the moon) and swearing it’s part of an Islamic global conspiracy to destroy America. Moore will huff set paint until the voices in his head start singing in key.