The Hollywood Renaissance of Color continues as more black actors are being cast in presumably non-black roles. For many of us who have spent our lives enduring the lack of representation in media, this is a cause for celebration, but for some others, it has unfortunately become a cause for alarm. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has come across the comment section beneath a black casting announcement only to find ridiculous levels of hatred and outrage. I know you’ve all seen it. You’ll see countless comments mentioning SJW (Social Justice Warrior) this and left wing that, but perhaps the most ironic and overused term found among these complaints is the term, “race bending.” As we continue to proudly move into this new age renaissance, I think its past time we take a pause and explore the pure hypocrisy behind the sentiments of these trolls who, for the sake of this article, we’ll be referring to as Race Ragers.
If you’ve been on Instagram lately, I’m sure you’ve seen the recent announcements of black castings in comic and fantasy roles. Recently, Lovecraft Country’s Jonathan Majors was cast to play the MCU villain Kang the Conqueror. If any of you have seen this man’s acting chops, you know that his performances are never anything less than captivating.
The Invisible Man actor, Aldis Hodge was also tapped by Dwayne The Rock Johnson to play Hawkman in his upcoming DCEU Black Adam film. Aldis has the correct physique and persona to fully embody any superhero, so this casting was a very pleasant surprise.
As one of the breakout stars of Blackish and the star of her own spinoff series, Grownish, Yara Shahidi is no stranger to working with the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC Network. And according to recent news, Disney has called on Yara, once again, to play Tinker Bell in their upcoming live action Peter Pan film.
Surely with the experience and massive talent acquired through these thespians, the entire world should be jumping for joy, but unfortunately, that’s incorrect. The casting of all three performers has been met with disdain from Race Ragers across the internet.
In fact after learning of Jonathan Major's casting as Kang the Conqueror, one Rager had the nerve to directly ask, "Why Black?" as if black skin is a cause for offense.
If you think that's bad, you may want to poise yourself for the level of ignorance hauled at Aldis Hodge after his casting as Hawkman. One user was bold enough to reduce the Hawkman character to an N-word slur.
The announcement of Yara's casting as Tinker Bell received more than its fair share of hate as well. One Instagram user typed an entire dissertation on why cultural representation is such an inconvenience to their peace of mind. On behalf of the entire culture, I'd like to apologize for wanting to be seen in sectors which are largely sustained by our hard earned dollars...
For those who didn't recognize it, please believe that last statement was pure sarcasm.
The audacity of this person to compare their frustration with activism to everyone else's right to live and exist is just ridiculous. Check out the vile rationalization of Race Rage below.
It's amazing to me that people are so unbothered by the many brunette actors playing comic characters with blonde designs. I've never seen one post of an actor being shamed for having the wrong eye color. This outrage is almost entirely reserved for one's skin color, especially if that skin color is anything other than white. Let's just think about it. How many Western Films in cinematic history have received outrage for the routine portrayal of Native American characters by White actors and actresses?
In the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Mickey Rooney wore yellow-face makeup to portray the Japanese landlord, I. Y. Yunioshi.
Is the outrage specifically reserved for the portrayal of comic characters? Well, if that's the case, I'm sure Race Ragers will be upset to learn that April O' Neil of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Comic series was originally drawn as a woman of color. People of color have had to witness one animation series and live-action film after another in which a white woman has portrayed this character. The miscasting has become more popular than the original drawings. Surely, this fact would have Race Ragers leaping through their roofs with anger, yet I've never seen one single complaint. Have you?
If we're being honest with ourselves, Race Bending is nothing new for Hollywood. It's been practiced since the very first film was projected onto any screen, but historically, its only favored one race of people. At the end of the day, we're all complex human beings. Character portrayals should not be limited to skin color any more than they are limited to hair or even eye color, but in an industry which has long shunned actors and actresses of color, its beyond time to even the playing field.
It's 2020, and all human issues are being laid out for open discussion. Sometimes, these discussions can be difficult, but they are definitely necessary. Its imperative that we open our minds beyond the limits of a person's flesh, and make way for a variety of human beings to grace the silver screen. With that being said, modern day race bending provides us an opportunity to step beyond the color lines. Its a win not only for black culture, or even for people of color as a whole. Diverse representation in media is a win for humanity in its entirety.
How else would we get dope fan art such as the ones pictured below?
Sound off in the comments below, and let us know what you think of the recent movement of diverse casting in Hollywood films. Give us your thoughts, and as always, keep it Konkret!