British comedian Jack Whitehall is going to play Disney’s first gay character, and instead of fans hailing the occasion as a breakthrough moment in cinema, there is a (by now typical, if not quaint, if not corrosive) backlash on social media.
The reason is that Whitehall is not gay, which, according to a certain logic, makes him ill-fitted for the role. Apparently only a gay actor can play someone gay.
If this were a one-off incident, one would dismiss it and move on. But it’s a growing trend. Scarlett Johansson, for example, recently stepped down from a transgender role, citing sensitivity issues. The actress was also criticized for her role in Ghost In The Shell where she played an asian.
Since when has acting become synonymous with cultural representation? If it’s offensive to cast certain people in certain roles, where do we draw the line? White people can’t play blacks, asians, et al (fair enough, for the sake of argument), blacks can’t play asians, whites and so on (ditto), but what about Americans? Isn’t it offensive to have Brits and Aussies taking all the American roles, putting on fake accents? Aren’t there American actors to give the roles to?
What about old people? Why should their roles be snatched up by young actors using fancy prosthetics and makeup? And why should older actors play younger roles? Why not stick to one’s age group?
You see where this is going. Any given role in a film is suddenly fit only for someone from the categories he or she or ze etc represents, which creates a mess with no end. No one will be deemed fully appropriate for a role, every casting will cause a backlash, and we will have ruined one of the arts, all because we have surrendered to activism of a most toxic and abstruse nature.
If you deem this an exaggeration — if you don’t find the above examples problematic — get a load of this: Ruby Rose, gay actress, recently cast to play Catwoman — a character who, according to DC canon, is lesbian — was deemed ‘not gay enough.’
Not gay enough!
This is a new low for the online backlash movement, which has turned from a useful tool for fairness and representation in the workplace to a toxic mob reflex.
I think it’s time the thespians struck back. Disengage from the trolls and haters, shut the activists down by disavowing all indignant calls to arms. Speak out: ‘We’re actors, so we’ll act out our roles, thank you, bye-bye,’ and keep speaking out until — with the help of the producers, whose job is to cast talent that brings in enough money to shoot the movie in the first place — the backlash movements fall apart (no one likes mindless, sand-in-the-engine complainers) and the culture assumes a semblance of sanity and functionality.
Not gay enough, they said!
From your queerly and gaily straight-shooting Spin Doctor,
Eyes open, mind sharp.
Jack Whitehall: http://bit.ly/2vJm098