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Disney’s Skin Color Problem

The other day I posted about the casting of the live action Little Mermaid movie. My comment was about the red hair. Others commented about race. It does seem that there is a strange standard when it comes to casting. It’s okay to replace an entire male cast with females or a character that has been (the little mermaid) that has been white in the most famous iteration of the story which came out in 1989. That means that for most of the fans of the show Ariel has only been one way.

If the character of Mulan were to be cast with a black person or a white person I think we would hear grumbles. Personally I think those grumbles would be justified because the character is Asian so it makes sense that the actor should be as well. Even though some like to argue that this doesn’t matter, because they are all fake characters, I think we can plainly see that isn’t true. If you don’t think it’s a big deal, then perhaps you haven’t been paying attention.

My final thought on all this really comes down to the lack of creativity. I think Mulan should remain Asian and Ariel should remain a red head, and James Bond should remain a white Brit, but at the same time I recognize that there is a lack of icons for some people.

Sadly they only see skin deep and require that their icons look like them. While I hope that some day they are able to look more deeply for now it seems that skin is what they focus on. That being true, create stories for them with characters that look like them rather than reformat existing characters. If someone needs their hero to look like them, then write a good story that does.

Or you could do what I do and not care about the color of skin the character has.

I look at attributes that are more meaningful.

On the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Platypusism) we brought up the Little Mermaid which is what started this discussion and it was brought up that if we really look at the character she’s not like any of us physically. She has a tail and can live under water. That she she has white skin and read hair might be iconic, but it’s not actually very interesting. In the original story her skin is green like a (rose leaf). Characters from books like The Lord of the Rings might be Elves, or Dwarves, not like any of us at all. We might find something to honor in a dragon, or an alien. These characters need not look like any of us for us to find something in them we can associate with.

Why can’t people do this with other characters?

Why is it that a black person can’t watch a movie with a white character and find something worthwhile to emulate there? Or the same with a white person watching and the character is a black person. I am able to do this and I marvel that others say they cannot. And they do say they cannot. We read so many people posting online how growing up there was no character that looked like them. Perhaps. But should that really be what’s important? Wouldn’t it be better if they saw in the character the person they wanted to be regardless of that character’s outward appearance? I think so.

I think the color of skin a person has is the least important and least interesting thing about them. If all you have going for you is that you are black or you are white, then I feel very sorry for you indeed. If you have nothing about you which I can relate to, or look up to, than you look like me, well, what a poor personality you must have. In all this talk about the race of a character and the race of an actor gets lost the reality that race is a boring measure of a man.

Hitting theaters on March 27th, 2020

Source: Watch the first trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan

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