Assia Angelini, Staff Writer
Spider-man is getting yet another reboot in the upcoming year of 2017, and people are up in arms, but not for the reason you might think.
It’s been confirmed that Spiderman: Homecoming is getting a much more diverse and fitting cast to represent Peter Parker’s hometown, Queens, New York.
For some reason, this casting decision is getting a lot of backlash from fans complaining about Marvel shoehorning people of color into these roles to win some type of “diversity award.”
However, Queens, New York has literally been named one of the “most diverse places on Earth” according to recent demographics. If anything, it could be argued that previous iterations of Spider-man were much less realistic for having an almost completely white cast.
These same people, however, are saying nothing about the recent announcement of the Ghost in the Shell movie expected in 2017.
This movie is based on a popular Japanese anime series set in a fictional city in Japan. Instead of following the paths of the movies Edge of Tomorrow (2013) and The Matrix (1999), which, Americanize these Japanese stories for their western audience, this adaptation of Ghost in the Shell tears straight from its Japanese roots without changing the story at all, cast included. While this sounds like the ideal, what it really does is put Paramount’s mainly white cast in an even harsher light.
For instance, the lead, a canonically Japanese woman named Motoko, is being played by a white Scarlett Johansson. But it’s okay! Technology has advanced to the point where, rather than hiring an actual Japanese actress to play the role, Paramount will digitally alter Scarlett Johansson’s white features into Asian ones.
Marvel isn’t choosing to take the same route with white Tilda Swinton who plays The Ancient One, the protagonist’s mystical guide, in the upcoming movie adaptation of Dr. Strange. Even though, in comic book canon, The Ancient One is a long-lived Tibetan man.
This biased reaction isn’t anything new. This double standard is a worrying pattern among media consumers that has been going on for years. Idris Elba as James Bond and Donald Glover as Spider-man both received an undue amount of backlash for even the suggestion that these people of color could fill stereotypically white roles.
Even roles that perfectly fit people of color such as Quvenzhane` Wallis as Annie (Annie, 2014), or Amandla Stenberg as Rue (Hunger Games, 2012) was met with an excessive amount of criticism.
However, the silence is deafening when whole movie casts originally meant to be people of color are filled by white people, such as in the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).
How long will this line of thinking prevail, where whitewashing is the norm and diversity in a film is seen as pandering?
What can be done to remedy this mind-set? When it comes to this internalized racism, the solution is never quick and simple. It’s a constant vigilant effort not to fall into this societal pattern.