I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s going to be yet another set of big box office Spider-Man flicks. We were caught in a web of entertainment with Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker, even as we cringed through the absurdity of Spider-Man 3.
We were all crying into our popcorn when Andrew Garfield’s Spidey realized that he fucked up.And now…we’re getting another Parker story that nobody fucking asked for, for some reason. This time around, some dude named Tom Holland will be playing our web-slinging hero. Other than that, only two other castings for the latest Spider-Man reboot have been confirmed: Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and Zendaya as a female lead named Michelle. While there has been little complaint about Holland and Tomei, word of Zendaya’s recent casting has been met with…a bunch of fucking racism. People who can’t be bothered to actually click and read articles have been mistakenly assuming that Zendaya, who is the child of a white mother and black father, was cast as Peter Parker’s red headed love interest, Mary Jane. This false assumption has been met with backlash and bullshit like this:
Shit like this is ridiculous for a couple reasons:
1. All the articles have clearly stated that Zendaya will be playing a character named Michelle, not Mary Jane, but people were more interested in showing off their racism than actually taking the time to read any of the fucking articles, lol.
2. Even if Zendaya had been cast as Mary Jane…who fucking cares? Mary Jane’s race hasn’t played a major role in who she is as a character, so why would the race of her character actually matter?
It’s not like we’re in dire need of more white actresses in leading roles…we aren’t. Hollywood has a history of making characters who are canonically POC (people of color) in their source material white in their movies, and when anyone dares to say something about it, they’re told en masse to shut up because it’s not a big deal. “They just picked the best person for the role” is the goto excuse. However, in the handful of times that a canonically white character has gotten a racial reassignment in their big screen incarnation, racists come out in fucking droves to talk about how it’s a tragedy and an outrage. Suddenly, the “best person for the role” excuse no longer flies. Personally, I’m so fucking tired of this double standard. Despite the improvements that continue to take place in the realm of onscreen diversity, minorities still receive little representation, and when they do, the depiction is, more often than not, highly stereotyped and borderline (or outright) offensive. I’m not about to get into the intricacies of Hollywood’s diversity problem, because millions of people have addressed it in other works much better than I can, but I will say how I feel about it:
1. When a character’s race/ethnicity is a major part of their identity in a story, it’s wrong to change that aspect of them for a movie. It’d be like changing Black Panther’s race; it wouldn’t make sense at all. This also goes for trying to whitewash depictions of historical figures for the obvious reason that you can’t just play around with the identities of real people.
2. When a character’s race/ethnicity isn’t a major part of their identity, then I don’t see the big deal in casting an actor/actress of a a different background for the role. The catch is that Hollywood often decides that they’ll take the few POC characters in a given work and make them white, which I do have a problem with due to diversity and representation issues.
If we’re going to adopt “color blind” casting, then it needs to make sense, and it needs to be fair across the board and done so in away that doesn’t further exacerbate or contribute to Hollywood’s whitewashing problem.
And to the racist idiots who find the idea of a black Mary Jane to be just so horribly disgusting and unbearable, please enjoy my Marj Jane cosplay that I made just for you!
Until next time, peeps!
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