Casting destruction? Blackwashing?… Black protagonist growing presence

‘Lupin’,’Brezerton’,’The Witcher’, etc.

Selected as a leading role in overseas dramas and movies

Expanding the role of fantasy and era

Propose a reason for’political correctness’

Too much distortion to the real white

The claim of’Force Casting’ is also difficult

The range of roles that cast people of color in overseas dramas and movies is expanding. The protagonist was unconditionally white men and women in the past, and the past’fixed idea’ has been broken for a long time, but in recent years, black actors take on the role of white characters from historical dramas, fantasy objects, and even real history. . There are many positive reviews in that it pursues racial diversity by reflecting changes in social atmosphere, but claims that it is being forced to cast because of’Political Correctness (PC)’ has been raised, and the controversy continues.

A scene from the Netflix original series’Lupin’. In this reinterpretation of the original novel, Asan (played by Omar Sai), the contemporary Arsene Lupin, is set as the son of an African immigrant. /Photo Credit=Netflix

Global Video Streaming Service (OTT) Netflix has attracted a lot of attention by putting the main characters of color to the fore in the original series that it recently released. ‘Lupin’, which was released earlier last month, reinterpreted Maurice LeBlanc’s novel’Arsene Lupin’ series in a modern way, and dealt with a revenge for the conglomerate who unjustly blamed his father. According to the British Guardian, the work is enjoying high popularity with 70 million paid viewers worldwide in just one month of release.

What is noteworthy is that in the process of reinterpreting the original, the protagonist, Lupin, was set as the son of a Senegal immigrant. The character of Arsene Lupin in the original is a white French playboy, but in the drama played by popular French actor Omar Sai, Lupin is a big black man who is completely different from the image of Lupin in the public image. The work avoids direct comparison of characters by taking inspiration from the novel and homage it. It follows the narrative of the masterpiece, from the case of the queen’s necklace, the starting point of the original series, to the most famous duel of the strangest castle.

‘Breatherton’, which was unveiled earlier, showed an unconventional setting that black nobles and queens exist in England in the 19th century. This, too, is the inversion of the white characters of the original novel in the process of imaging. The male protagonist, Duke of Hastings, is played by black actor Reggie Jean Page, and the queen role is played by Golda Rochevel. The drama’s historically unprecedented cast has created both topic and controversy. Bridgerton enjoyed great popularity, ranking first on Netflix in 76 countries around the world, with favorable comments that it was fun while increasing racial diversity, and objections that distracting attention from the original character set.

In addition, Jodie Turner Smith, a black Jamaican actress from the UK, was cast as a major role in the fantasy genre in the’The Witcher’ prequel series, which was recently produced.

A Netflix official said, “It is the basic policy of Netflix to’let the lives of more people project on the screen’.” “When people who watch content feel that they are’like me’, consensus seems to rise.” Explained.

A scene from Netflix’s original series’Bridgerton’, released at the end of last year. Reggie Jean Page (right) set the main character, including Duke Hastings, played by the male protagonist, as black, attracting attention even before the release. /Photo Credit=Netflix

It is not limited to Netflix to develop a presence of people of color in consideration of racial diversity. The Disney Pixar animation’Soul’, which has exceeded 1 million viewers in Korea, has become a hot topic with the setting that the main character is a black music teacher who dreams of becoming a jazz pianist since its production. This is because Disney and Pixar have never made a work with a black character. The New York Times (NYT) said, “The crew of’Soul’ looked at this work and created a character so that the racist characters that were revealed in past animation works such as’Tom and Jerry’ do not come to mind.”

A scene from the animated film’Soul’. For the first time in Disney’s work, this is a story of a black man. /Photo provided by Walt Disney Korea

Disney is casting a variety of races in the process of making the original animation work recently promoted. In’Peter Pan’ live-action film’Peter Pan and Wendy’, black actor Yara Shahidi was selected as the fairy Tinkerbell, and in the live-action version of’The Little Mermaid’, black-haired black actor Harley Bailey was selected as the main character Ariel.

This is a big change considering that in the past, it was criticized as’Whitewashing’, who casts white actors unconditionally even to characters of color, or’Black Face’, who puts on colored skin makeup on white actors. However, some argue that excessive black casting that does not match the role is causing a new problem of’blackwashing’.

Turner Smith, who starred in the Witcher Prequel, was cast as the second Queen Anne Boleyn of King Henry VIII in a drama being produced by British Channel 5, and there are many pointed out that it is too much to change the real white to black. About the live-action version of The Little Mermaid, people who remember Ariel in the cartoon movie also repelled the post with the hashtag’#NotMyAriel’ (#Not My Ariel).

However, criticism is popular that the claim of’blackwashing’ is also racist. Bridgerton’s original author, novelist Julia Quinn, said she was pleased with the cast of various races. “By adding imagination to historical facts, you can make Brigerton resemble the real world and make you think’this is the way the world should be.'”

/ Reporter Park Joon-ho [email protected]

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