Remakes, Reboots, and Turning Guys into Gals – Part 2

Posted: February 13, 2015 in Entertainment, Fiction, Life, Movies, News
Tags: , , , , , ,

Part 1 can be found here. It’s a bit long and it’s not entirely necessary to read it in order to read Part 2, but there are things I discussed about remakes and reboots in general that I’ll reference here. You should still be able to get what I’m saying without reading Part 1 first, but be aware in advance that references will be made.

And now there shall be blood.

Well, not here. But most of the forums I’ve seen (and then run screaming away from without posting so as to keep my sanity) involving discussions about the announcement of the all female reboot of Ghostbusters and/or Peter Davison commenting that he feels The Doctor is best served remaining a male have gotten rather bloody. They’re either flooded with the usual PC crowd who throw around such mindlessly idiotic terms as “mansplaining” and denounce simple disagreement with the concepts as an act of misogyny, or they’re flooded with (likely dateless) males who seem hold the belief that women are a separate and inferior species. Even in some of the more neutral threads, such as one that I gave up on after only a few posts, there were people who made it clear that any objection would be twisted into something other than what was actually said in order to be taken as a personal insult.

It honestly seems, especially on the internet, that attempting to discuss reasons for the side objecting to either of these two things, an all female Ghostbusters or a Female Doctor on Who, is an exercise in futility. But, hey, it’s my blog and I can engage in futile endeavors here as much as I want to.

I’m going to start with Ghostbusters. It’s probably the easier of the two to go with because at least with this it’s a reboot, a completely fresh restart, and not an ongoing character being changed in ways never before seen in its 50+ year history.

Ghostbusters is a little over three decades old now. Yup, roll that one around in your head for a minute. It first hit the big screen way back in 1984, and did so without the first signs of having a Gorilla on the team. Dear lord does that make me feel old.

After being a smash hit in theaters, selling like mad on VHS and Laser Disc, and charting the Top 40 with its soundtrack, the property also became a hugely successful (and fondly remembered) cartoon from 1985 to 1991. Interestingly, we also got a cartoon comeback for the Ghost Busters with the Gorilla member on the team, but it died a quick death from, in part, being called a rip-off of Ghostbusters by people who didn’t know any better.

1989 brought us Ghostbusters II. It was probably a sequel that shouldn’t have been released. Frankly, it was a stinker. Some of that can likely be laid at the feet of the many supposed production issues discussed in the entertainment news at the time ranging from script revisions requested because of the ongoing cartoon and footage being reshot to change aspects that the dreaded “test audiences” didn’t respond well to. Some blame might also be placed on some of the personalities involved. But, no matter the cause, the film was a bit of a letdown.

But it wasn’t a horrendous flop. It did well enough that fans still supported the idea of a Ghostbusters III, and they were even more behind a third film coming out once the cartoon had ended its run. What they got instead was twenty-plus years of tease.

That tease was strong in this last decade. The talk was heavy that the film was getting done, then it was waiting for Bill Murray to stop holding out, then it was going to go on with Bill Murray out and Ben Stiller in, then it was going to be an animated film with the original cast voicing the characters, then it was going to be three originals minus Bill passing the torch to a new team, then… Well, you get the idea. There were lots of teases, but no film. Then, when it finally seemed that the momentum was moving towards a Ghostbusters III again, the passing of Harold Ramis took the wind out of those sails in the worst possible way.

I mention all of this for a reason. Ghostbusters has a fandom behind it that’s been around for over thirty years now, and that fandom has only grown larger, and more loyal, over the years. That fandom has also had an ability that fandoms that came in the decades before it didn’t have. As I touched on in Part 1, this is a different type of entertainment age than the one came before it.

Ghostbusters, as far as being a film, was a child of a new entertainment age. It didn’t hit theaters and then disappear basically forever more, maybe getting the odd TV airing once in a blue moon. It was released in the dawning of the big boom of the early home entertainment age. It hit theaters, and then it hit VHS and Laser Disc. It was snatched up in the years to come by network and cable television channels for regular TV airings. It continued on as a regular fixture on VHS shelves, both for rental and sale, up until VHS died out, and then it got  DVD and Blu-Ray releases. The cartoon, hooking younger viewers into the franchise for years, was syndicated on cable long after the original airings ended as well as finding its way to home video. Ghostbusters II would do the same thing.

VHS Ghostbusters

There was no point after the first film hit theaters when older fans were talking about that great film from years ago and only the rare younger fan with access to ways to view older films would have actually seen it. As a matter of fact, new fans could be, and were, made every year. Ghostbusters fandom grew so large that it began to take on aspects of Star Trek and Star Wars fandom with organized chapters in every region of the US who dressed up in movie perfect costumes, had movie perfect replica vehicles designed to look like Ecto-1, and appeared at charity events, parades, and conventions.

And, maybe more importantly, the Ghostbusters have become iconic. Amazingly, thirty-plus years after the first film hit theaters, the Ghostbusters are still a part of current pop culture in America. They still get referenced, they still get (kindly) parodied, and there are still things that throw out a little homage or two here and there to the franchise. They even recently got immortalized in their first ever Lego set. The original four, quite literally have become an iconic part of the American pop culture landscape.


That makes doing certain things with the franchise a tricky concept. People are invested in “their” Ghostbusters, and, with the ability to see the films and/or the cartoon whenever and wherever they wish, there’s a strangely surreal sense of the franchise still being… well… I don’t want to say current, but I know a lot of people for whom it doesn’t mentally register that three decades have gone by since the first film unless you make them actively think about that fact, and that short circuit in their brain makes them think about the franchise as still being current or at least feeling current.

So anyone approaching the franchise with ideas about changing it, updating it, or modernizing it has an uphill slog in front of them. Again, it’s a tricky concept to pull off. It’s also one where the smart money says you should probably tred carefully and do what you can to seem respectful to the original property and the very vocal fanbase. So, of course, Hollywood has declared that they’re wiping the slate clean, rebooting the series, and making the lead cast of characters all female.

Yeah… Right…

You know what? I don’t see that as a winning strategy for a new film. There’s an old saying about doing the right thing the wrong way being as bad as doing the wrong thing. I don’t know that this is the right thing, but it feels like it’s the wrong way. The interesting thing, at least on personal level, is that it’s not even the fact that they want a new crew of four women, but rather how they’re introducing them.

I’ll freely admit that what I’m about to say does not make sense on a purely logical level, but this isn’t about logic. I’m human, not Vulcan. Humans are not always logical when it comes to things that they have emotional attachments to or investments in. This is in part how I feel, but I’ve also seen a number of other people trying to articulate this concept elsewhere.

I know that there’s no way the original four Ghostbusters are coming back for a full feature film adventure, especially since Murray seems intent to hold out until hell freezes over and Ramis has died. It’s not going to look the same because Ivan Reitman lost interest in directing when Ramis died. The story won’t feel the same on a basic level because Ramis co-wrote the scripts for the original films with Aykroyd. There is no true third Ghostbusters to be made at this point.

If a new film has to be done in the minds of the Hollywood powers that be, creating new lead characters is probably a good way to go. They’d even already spitballed the concept of a few of the original cast having minor roles as their original characters mentoring the new, younger team of Ghostbusters. Even if the film changes in tone and style radically in order to be a new generation’s Ghostbusters, it would still more likely feel like there would be a greater level of respect to the existing franchise and its fans by having a passing of the torch type of film. If successful, it would even allow cameos down the road.

But completely wiping the slate clear? A lot of fans, rightly or wrongly, feel slighted. They’ve been getting put on the hook and almost reeled in with teases of the original cast for years now, especially over the last ten years, so the seemingly abrupt announcement of a complete reboot hits them in a negative way.

And the all female cast idea?

Again, what I’m about to say doesn’t make sense on a totally logical level, but, again, it’s not about logic.

If this wasn’t a full reboot, the idea of all four main leads being all female might not be getting the resistance that it’s getting in some fan quarters. If this was simply a third film with a group of four characters who all grew up wanting to be Ghostbusters, getting hired on and mentored as a new unit with Aykroyd and Hudson being on hand to pass the torch onscreen, the vibe becomes a different one. But this just feels like a gimmick. It feels like stunt casting of a sort.

Hollywood doesn’t have a great track record with things like this. In sci-fi circles there was a joke about a certain high profile television creator who used to annoy the hell out of the actual science fiction writers who worked on his show. He would call a writer and a producer into his office and pitch them his latest story concept. The problem? The “story concept” was usually something like the alien having three eyes. It wasn’t a story concept, just an idea for a visual gimmick. And Hollywood is filled with this kind of thing.

So when an announcement comes out that the big concept for Ghostbusters III is rebooting the franchise and casting all women in the leads, the more jaded film fans become leery over what immediately feels like yet another example of Hollywood confusing a gimmick for a story concept. And that’s on top of making fans of the original actors in the roles feeling somewhat snubbed.

Is it really surprising to anyone that the fan response has been what it is? Ghostbusters as a complete franchise did what any good entertainment is supposed to do, and that’s get its fans emotionally invested in the characters. Now a large number of fans are reacting emotionally, and they’re largely reacting with negative emotions.

But a lot of people on various forums that are shutting their eyes, covering their ears and throwing around words like “mansplaining” and “misogynistic” need to realize that the negative reactions that they’re seeing to this film, whether minor or even a little over the top, are not strictly about women or women being the leads in a film. If this had been an original concept for a film, a comedy about four female friends who decided to start up an paranormal investigations and elimination business, it wouldn’t be getting any comments about the leads all being female, and, given the cast and some of the other names attached, it might even be getting some positive buzz from the fans who are now skeptical or critical about it.

And the people throwing around words like “mansplaining” and “misogynistic” need to realize a couple of other things about both their own positions and the positions of those who are critical of the proposed reboot.

First, and the more serious of the two, is that you’re really dumbing down the definition of “misogynistic” if you genuinely claim that longtime fans of the franchise disliking the news of a full-on reboot that ditches the characters that they associate with “their” franchise is an act of misogyny. It’s more about all the other stuff involved in that and less the all female lead cast thing. And, frankly, even someone just not taking to the all female cast idea is hardly a sign of misogyny.

Second, it’s a reboot. I don’t know if you’ve just missed the entire rest of the existence of fanzines, letter pages, and the growth of the internet fan community, but, in case you have, negative fan reactions to remakes and reboots is something that the internet fan community has practically turned into an art form. Even if this was an all male lead cast playing the original characters in a reboot we would be seeing criticisms and complaints far and wide. It’s what people do with reboots and remakes.


Remember when the casting news about Superman broke when Man of Steel was getting underway? There was the online fan community with its complaining that “this guy” was wrong for the role. News breaks that Spider-Man is getting rebooted? Fan outrage was the order of the day. And you don’t even need a full reboot to spark some of it. News of the Doctor regenerating or Bond needing to be recast results in fan gnashing of teeth that is truly epic.

It’s not even a recent thing. Is anybody reading this old enough to remember when Star Trek: The Next Generation was being put together? There were critics, fans, and even original series cast members that were critical of the idea. It was going to tarnish the legacy. It was impossible to catch lightning in a bottle twice. People wouldn’t accept new actors, new characters, and a new ship as Star Trek. And, of course, proving them all right, Next Gen failed miserably and went on to be forgotten in short order. Or not.

Look, fans of the original Ghostbusters franchise, of the original characters, have every right to voice their opinion, negative as it is in many places, about this reboot. It’s not anti-woman, it’s not misogynistic. It’s more anti-change than anything else. But when the film finally hits theaters, if it’s good and if it does the franchise right in the eyes of the fans, it, like Next Gen did, will be successful. Hell, if it gets good enough word of mouth from sources I trust, I’ll certainly go see it. I’m not the type to cut my nose off to spite my face. However, it probably would have helped their cause if, like Next Gen, it was a continuation rather than a full reboot. But that’s just my opinion.

Now, the far more touchy and thorny bit of news to discuss is the idea of The Doctor becoming a woman. Or, just as thorny but less problematic than the gender switch concept, the idea of the Doctor becoming black.

The Curse of Fatal Death

There’s been talk for decades now, most of it not serious, some quite serious, about casting a woman as The Doctor in Doctor Who. It’s an idea that until recent times has only been second to seeing a black Doctor.

Lenny Henry

Well, the talk has been in the news again despite the role being filled and the actor not looking at an imminent departure. It was in large part kicked off once again thanks to the season long “Missy” mystery in the most recent season/series of Who. I’d offer a spoiler alert here, but I’m pretty sure that the only people that don’t know how this played out don’t have access to the internet. Missy, after a number of teases that weirdly had a number of people thinking this was Clara, was revealed to be the latest regeneration of the Master.

That, by the way, totally screwed my hopes of seeing the return of the Rani. I’m actually still kind of hoping that this was a swerve and we find out later that this was the Rani trying to mind screw the Doctor, because, plot-wise, it would make a hell of a lot more sense with regards to story elements in the season ending two-parter.

It was also in the geek news and all over the forums last week because of Peter Davison weighing in on the issue in an interview. The responses by some online have not been pretty, up to and including some declaring him an actor no longer worthy of future fan support.

First, for all of the hate that’s been flung at him from some quarters, he never said that there should never be a female Doctor. He was asked for his opinion by an interviewer, and then, after making it clear that he was speaking purely as a fan who had been watching from the time of the 1st Doctor and not so much as a Doctor himself, he said it was just his opinion that it probably wasn’t a good idea. He also explained his position by citing the dynamic of the show and the character of the Doctor. He actually made a fairly valid point as well, although one counterargument to his point might be to not cast a new companion as a male. But, honestly, I largely agree with him.

To a degree I also wonder how many of his loudest critics on the issue also partly agree with him without realizing that they agree with him. The point he addressed about the character dynamics and about the writing of the character have some truth to them in that regard, because a simple cosmetic change without greater character changes will only likely invite greater criticism. I say that because many of the blogs, forums, and individuals that have reacted the most negatively and the loudest to Peter Davison’s comments and are not exactly known for not complaining endlessly about their perception that their gender or race is being slighted with every new bit of casting news around either the companions or the Doctor are also some of the loudest voices complaining about how a show or film is not writing a character authentically or correctly by their standards of “correct” ethnic or gender behavior.

There’s very vocal group of people out there who want a female Doctor or a black Doctor who would likely be the first in line to be loudest voices criticizing every action of the character as wrong. If you go through many of the blogs, forums, and websites where the push for such a change to the character is the most, well, militantly insisted upon, you also find the same voices constantly complaining that various movies and shows aren’t writing ‘X’ correctly. They have narrowly defined visions of how a female character or a black character should be written, and complaints abound about how male writers aren’t writing female characters correctly or how certain black characters are either not “black enough” or outright called “Oreos” and only “black on the outside.” And it won’t matter that the show is science fiction, because they’ve made these complaints about characters in science fiction both contemporary and set in the far future.

This group of fans who are also condemning Peter Davison, that are also by no means representative of the entirety of the fans promoting either of these changes, are likely to be the most responsible for creating essentially a self fulfilling prophecy of failure along the lines of Peter Davison’s comments about the problems with writing the character once changed. Every actor that’s played the Doctor, both on the small screen and the big screen, has brought us a different Doctor. Some mannerisms change, some ways of reacting change, and some ways of playing either anger or sympathy change, but the basic portrayal of the Doctor in how he’s been written remains somewhat constant. As some connected with Who have basically pointed out over the years, you see different facets of the Doctor as you look over the different eras of the Doctor, different actors interpreting the role in their own way, but you always see the core commonality in how the Doctor is written despite the different actors playing the role.

If you change the gender or race of the Doctor without changing the basic presentation of how the character is written, you end up with what many in this group frequently and loudly criticize in other characters. You end up with a female character that they will complain is not being written properly or a black character that is, in their view, only black on the outside. Alternately, the character could be written completely differently once the change is made, but then, realistically, the character ceases to be “The Doctor” and becomes someone else. While it might make this particular group of fans happy to see such a complete change, I’m not sure how well received it would be by everyone else.

Although, I will admit that I was geeking out like a 13-year-old when some time back they were teasing the possibility of Paterson Joseph as the next Doctor if only because he’d already given a damned near perfect audition for the role years early with his performance in Neverwhere.

Now, these days at least, there’s a noticeably larger faction that’s pushing for the gender change, but they give a reason that I just don’t see as a valid reason for going forward with it. The reason given is that the Doctor needs to catch up to the times and/or that it’s time. That’s it. Discussions with them also start to become a wee bit circular in their logic.

It’s time for Who to make that change. Why should they make the change? To get Who to get with the times. But what’s the logical reasoning for such a change? It’s overdue. How is it overdue? Because Who needs to get with the times. But what’s the reason? It’s time.

While maybe not as obnoxiously annoying as the more militant “The white male audience has had him long enough!” crowd’s rationale for a change, it really doesn’t seem a much better reason for a changing the gender of the Doctor. Maybe I’m a stuck when it comes to the concept because I tend to look at things from a story-driven POV, and, frankly, “because it’s time” just does not strike me as a particularly story-driven rationale.

Can you justify a solid, story-driven reason for a change like that? Well, yeah. They certainly had one in place a while back that they seemed to have more or less just junked. At the end of The Wedding of River Song the Doctor declares that he’s gotten too big, that he needs to step back into the shadows. That was followed with stories that either seemed to be about erasing him from the memories of those who encountered him or showing that, no, everyone still remembered him anyhow. A regeneration into female form during an arc where the Doctor is trying to step back into the shadows would almost make some sort of sense. It would be on the level, plot-wise, of the Doctor becoming human in order to hide from the Family. After all, the Doctor is known far and wide as the mad man with a box, so, at least temporarily, being a mad woman with a box is some level of cover. But I think you’d still run into some… interesting… writing issues during that season.

There’s also the matter of the Doctor being, much as I mentioned with Ghostbusters only more so, iconic. The Doctor has been around for 50 years. Through 50 years and 14 actors (15 if you count the need for a replacement in The Five Doctors) the Doctor has been the mad man with a box. If you say “Doctor Who” to most people around the world, the image that comes to mind is, usually in the form of a specific Doctor, that of a guy next to the TARDIS.

And, honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with a character being a guy, and there’s certainly no pressing need to change that simply because someone weirdly declares that “it’s time.” And there’s certainly no pressing need to do so when, in at least one way, the character is not unique.

There are female Time Lords quite nicely established in Who continuity. Romana certainly proved herself a match for the Doctor in their travels together. The Doctor even has a daughter flying around out there somewhere. Both, with some serious writing hoops to jump through right now with Romana, are certainly viable candidates for a spin-off show. Or, even better and minus baggage, why not just create an original character for a spin-off series?


They’ve shown over the decades that the Doctor’s presence can influence worlds and inspire many. Why couldn’t he have inspired one of his own people to do what he did? Why couldn’t she have left Gallifrey, stealing a TARDIS as did her hero, seeking adventure? She could easily have been out there for years; doing what the Doctor has been doing, traveling in and out through the centuries, and never having come into contact with the Doctor. It’s certainly easy to have her storyline-wise not being on Gallifrey when it “fell” in the Time War. She could be introduced into a season of Who already being a seasoned adventure, and then spun off into her own adventures. And the good thing with that is that the character can be created to be genuinely a female Time Lord who is on par with the Doctor.

But I’d have difficulty getting behind a change that’s based purely on a segment of fandom demanding that “it’s time.” I’d still watch. I am a fan after all, and I watched through some of the horrific years of bad stories inflicted upon poor Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. If the stories are good and they can do it well, of course I’ll watch. Again, as I noted above, I’m not the type to cut my own nose off to spite my face. But, likewise, I want a better, more logical, and more story-driven reason than people declaring that Who needs to get with the times and this somehow meaning that a male Doctor is somehow just not good enough anymore.


Now, as if this hasn’t been long enough already, I’ll preemptively head a few things off at the pass. Having had this discussion in a few places before leaving for reasons of sanity, I know a few things that will likely be the leading (of the more polite at least) responses thrown out there.

* You obviously have a problem with women.
No, no I don’t. I quite like women.

* You obviously have a problem with women having power.
No, I have no problem with women in positions of power or authority. As a matter of fact, several of the Sergeants and Lieutenants I’ve most respected and admired over the last 15+ years of my present career have been women. I’d also pull the voting lever for a woman in a presidential election.

* You obviously have a problem with women doing the man’s adventure thing.
Nope. Quite liked shows like Xena and others stories centered on action and adventure with a strong female lead. I also have a daughter who has been from day one and still is being taught that she can do or be anything she wants to be and do anything that her older brother can do.

* You must have hated Starbuck and Boomer.
No, actually I didn’t. Two characters being changed in gender and race out of an ensemble cast of characters in a modern updating of an older series that was completely unlike the original in tone, style, and execution is a bit different than doing a close concept reboot and changing every lead character or gender shifting a character in a continuing series. Also, in the case of Starbuck at least, they articulated a story-driven reason for Starbuck before the series started. The history and the dynamic of the relationship between Starbuck and Apollo were both designed to be different, setting up different storylines and arcs between them, and Starbuck was slated for a different overall arc than the original was.

Plus, honestly, I sort of came at the new BSG in a different way than some others. I hated the mini-series used as the pilot for the series. It turned me off on the prospective series in a number of ways not even related to the whole Starbuck flap. It wasn’t until the tail end of the first season that I channel surfed into an episode, got hooked on what was going on in that episode, and started watching the show. At that point, my view of the series was less about it being a remake of the BSG of old and more about it focusing on what was going on as I was watching it.

They still blew that ending six ways from Sunday though.

*It must have been fun listening to you whining from your white privilege perspective when Nick Fury hit the screen in the new MCU films.
You didn’t miss anything. There was no whining. Actually, I had no real position on it at all. I didn’t really care that much about Perry White or Heimdall either.

Nick Fury was never a major character, certainly not one universally known outside of the comic book community, and not truly an iconic character in the pantheon of comic book mythology. Perry White, despite his proximity to Superman for all these decades, isn’t really an iconic figure either. If anything, I had more issues with them turning Lois Lane into a freaking teenager (only a slight exaggeration) in Superman returns than I had with Perry White becoming black in Man of Steel. I really didn’t care one way or the other about the casting choice in MoS, and, after seeing the movie, stopped caring about this version of The Dark Superman Rises franchise at all.

Now, if it had been Superman or Batman it might be different. Again, it simply goes back to an iconic character having a history, and needing a better reason for a change than “it’s time” or “it’s our turn now” as a substitute for a legitimate, story-driven reason.

SJ as NF

*You probably don’t have any issues when the change works in your favor.
That’s usually a reference to switching ethnicities with characters since no one can really come up with a major character that was changed from female to male. And by “your favor” they mean characters being, as the term goes, whitewashed.

The answer is actually that it depends on what’s being done. Do I have an issue when a story set in another country is transplanted to America and the casting then leans a little less towards the original cast’s ethnicity? Not really. I mean, it would be kind of a goofy movie if you transplanted a story about seven samurai from feudal Japan to the American Old West and Mexico and cast everyone in the film, from the lead actors on down to people walking around the town, with Japanese actors. Likewise, a cops and mobsters thriller from Hong Kong absolutely works with a Chinese cast, but it would seem a little strange with an almost all Chinese cast if it was set around Boston. As it goes though, The Magnificent Seven is considered a classic, The Departed was a great film, and the changes mean that there are now four great films out there (The Seven Samurai and Infernal Affairs rounding that out) with different takes on their respective stories.

But the thing is I have no issue with the reverse either. Jackie Chan was a huge fan of the film Pocketful of Miracles, so much so that he remade it as (American title) Miracles (A.K.A. Mr. Canton and Lady Rose.) He moved the story to Hong Kong and cast an entirely Chinese cast. Not only did it never bother me, but I love the film. Back in 1988 Chow Yun-Fat starred in a film called The Greatest Lover. It was a role reversal retelling of the Pygmalion/My Fair Lady story with Chow Yun-Fat as the street rogue and Anita Mui as the high society lady who teaches him how to blend in as a high society playboy. A bit lowbrow in parts, but beautifully shot and funny nonetheless. It would also look stupid as hell if the characters hadn’t all been recast with Chinese actors given that it’s set in Hong Kong.

And, seriously, who doesn’t love the fact that a Japanese company got the rights to Spider-Man and basically turned the character into a Power Ranger with his alter ego being motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro? And, yeah, I do mean that seriously. Not only is it cool seeing the character redone like that, but I geeked out when the news broke that the recent Spider-Man event in comics actually recognized that Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe.

Likewise, I quite enjoyed Django Unchained. It certainly never bothered me in the least that Jamie Foxx was several shades better tanned than Franco Nero. The story was good, the film was kickass, the story itself called for the casting choices, and it was entertaining as hell.

So, yeah, I actually like having these alternative versions out there along with the American or original versions. It doesn’t bother me one bit to have additional entertainment options rather than fewer.

Now, do I in some cases actually have an issue with the recasting where modern Hollywood ventures into “whitewashing” territory? Well, yeah, and certainly in films where they throw around the tag of “based on a true story.”

Mena Suvari playing a character in Stuck who was a black woman in real life? That was stupid. Likewise, Jennifer Connolly in A Beautiful Mind playing a character who in real life was from El Salvador? A bit stupid that. The film 21 was based on real life MIT students who got together and used their heads to break the house in a number of casinos across the country. Great story concept that was ready made for film. Not so great to change the real life Asian students to white kids.

I even have issues with fictional characters getting that treatment. I still can’t figure out what was going through old M.’s head when he did The Last Airbender. Taking a fictional animated world and moving it to live a action fictional world means that you’re not doing the same thing as moving a story’s setting from Kyoto to New York. You can keep all the characters as they were, so turning pretty much everybody EXCEPT the villains into Caucasians came across as an idiotic move if for no other reason than having to have known it would piss off the rather sizable fanbase of the show. It certainly didn’t help that the movie was reportedly horrible to boot.

Then there’s the entire mess that has been the on again off again Akira live action movie. Keeping it set in Japan? Cast Japanese. Moving it to America? Cast who you want. Flipping back and forth on the location of your setting until no one can tell what the hell you’re doing? Go home.

And, yeah, I thought the whole issue with the Sheriff in 30 Days of Night was pretty lame. For that matter, I thought that not casting a forty-something Bill Mumy to play a forty-something Will Robinson in the big screen version of Lost in Space was pretty lame as well, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

See, the thing is, and it may be hard for those of you out there who are so often totally consumed with your fixation on race and gender in all things combined with your “It’s our turn!” attitude to understand this, but for most of us it’s not at all about race or gender unless or until you bring it up and make a huge stink about it. Most of us don’t typically care during the day in and day out of the entertainment watching portion of our lives. Our primary fixation with entertainment is being entertained.

But, yeah, we’re going to disagree, or at least make skeptical noises, when you come along and demand that genders and/or races be changed for no more lame a reason than simply you declaring that it’s time or that it’s time for a character to get with the times. That doesn’t mean that anyone disagreeing with you is racist or misogynistic. It simply means that you need a damned sight better argument for a character enjoyed and/or beloved by millions to be given such a total makeover than the declaration that it’s overdue or that it’s time.


  1. Jerome Maida says:

    This rocks! So thorough and hard-hitting!

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