Here we go again. Yet another beloved character potentially undergoing a “race change”. Fans of the source material hate it and are called racists for doing so. Not just by social justice warriors, but by journalists and even directors like James Gunn.
For some backstory, there's been rumours that black actress Zendaya has been chosen to play Mary Jane Watson in Sony/Marvel's Spider-Man reboot. The character is best known as a quirky white redhead. In no way has she ever been depicted as black.
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This, has obviously angered a lot of people, because she's simply miscast. And it's so easy for people, such as ScreenCrush's Matt Singer to call those against the change 'racists'.
Here's some of the piss-poor examples of “racism” Singer used to justify his race-card usage.
“Retroactively changing the race of an existing character with an established skin tone and/or physiognomy is just dumb. No one enjoys this pitiful practice in pandering” and “Why can’t they just cast a REAL, good-looking redhead?”
So what's wrong with these complaints? Yeah, it's a pitiful practice in pandering. This mindless attempts to appear progressive overwrite loyalty to source material. The best course of action, indeed, is to do as the second example states and cast a real, good-looking redhead.
Then again this is what's considered 'racism' in Liberal-lala land.
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It doesn't matter if Zendaya can get the personality of MJ down pat. If Seth Rogen could get the personality of Captain America down to a science, he still wouldn't be a good fit for the character. Appearance matters.
Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn weighed in on the controversy too and needless to say, he doesn't get it either.
“For me, if a character's primary attribute - the thing that makes them iconic - is the color of their skin, or their hair color, frankly, that character is shallow and sucks. For me, what makes MJ MJ is her alpha female playfulness, and if the actress captures that, then she'll work. And, for the record, I think Zendaya even matches what I think of as MJ's primary physical characteristics - she's a tall, thin model - much more so than actresses have in the past.”
Yes, and as I've previously stated, physical appearance matters. As in RACE matters when casting.
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He also brought up the previously controversy over Michael B Jordan playing Johnny Storm.
“When Michael B Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm I didn't understand the uproar. The primary characteristic of Johnny was not, to me, that he was white, or that he had blonde hair, but that he was a fiery, funny, big-mouthed braggart of a hero. I was happy that he was going to be played by one of the finest and most charming young actors out there.”
Okay, so take Johnny Storm and have him be played by a talking panda that exhibits all the same traits. Doesn't sound very much like Johnny. And despite how awesome Michael B Jordan is (he's downright awesome) he was miscast.
And it's not just fans of source material who get upset when things like this are changed. George Takei was not a fan when Sulu turned out to be gay in Star Trek Beyond, despite the move being done to honour the actor.
The reason being is this: stop changing things for the sake of social justice and to fit quotas. If you want Spider-Man to have a black love interest, invent a new character. That's much better than modifying existing ones.
Besides, by inventing new black characters, you're adding more to the lore that way. If done right, she/he may even become a character in the comics despite originating in film. But obviously the writers don't have enough confidence in themselves to even try such a thing.
Sorry, we happen to like the source material the way it is. And we're not racist for doing so.
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Oh, and read this closing bit from Matt Singer.
“The filmmakers in charge of Spider-Man: Homecoming have their own great power; the power to inspire people all over the world by representing them onscreen in an inclusive, diverse movie.”
No, they don't. You're not promoting diversity by miscasting people. If you want to be more diverse, as I said, make new characters. When they wanted a black Spider-Man, they didn't make Peter Parker black, they created Miles Morales.
Keep the social justice out of comics and for the love of God, stop calling everyone you disagree with a racist. Because if anyone is small-minded, it's you.