Fantasy casting being a list of actors we'd love to see in that movie. (Our assumption is somebody's gonna attempt to turn that book into a movie.) Reality casting being who the Hollywood People will probably cast after making a few 'adjustments' to the storyline and characters. Guess which list was a lot paler? It was hilarious while we were doing it, but at the end we were kinda depressed.
Anywho, an excerpt from today's NYT story that reminded me of that discussion:
But the fact that Mr. Brownâs work has been translated into 17
languages and has sold five million copies around the world was not
enough to convince HBO that a film version would draw a sizable
mainstream audience. When the channel broadcasts its two-hour
adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center
will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.
âEveryone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project,â Daniel Giat, the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, told a group of television writers earlier this year.
Can we guess the cultural composition of "everyone" in this case? See, this pale and monolithic "everyone" needed a protagonist for their adaptation of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, which in case you don't feel like clicking (or are ignorant), is one of the touchstone works about the expansion of the West from the point of view of the people who lost out big time.
And the question that always floats to mind around here when I see these types of stories? Is the contemporary white audience truly as dumb, ignorant and xenophobic as the green light guardians at the Hollywood gate assume them to be? (To be honest, quite often my answer is yes. But lots of times my answer is no. Depends on the situation and my mood at the time.)
My mood swings aside, it comes down to we'll never actually know if the contemporary white audience is not being given enough credit as long as the overwhelmingly pale Hollywood People who make the decisions*** continue to pull this crap. That goes from putting a white (or part-white) guy at the center of the Wounded Knee adaptation, throwing a gay stereotype into another adaptation, or shifting the entire character color scheme for another, or doing pretty much the same thing for another based-on-true-events adaptation (that one involved shifting the key players from Asian to white). And I could go on and on and on - and so could you if you thought about it - but I'll stop, now.
Now that I think about it, this also reminded me of that Anansi Boys casting discussion.
The list of book to movie adaptations I will probably not see until long after they're out on dvd grows by the day. Okay, in this particular case I don't have cable anyway, but still.
*** I don't have time right now to hunt for the original source or look to see if it still holds true, but word was that there is no person of pigment in Hollywood with the authority to green light a movie. And if you don't think that's one reason this kinda crap keeps happening, perhaps you are a dumb, ignorant and xenophobic as the Hollywood People presume you to be.