September 20th, 2009

(no subject)

Dear Hollywood,

You and I need to have a talk, all right. Just sit down here and listen closely. Now. Hollywood. I know that many of your viewers have literally never been challenged to identify with a main character who is not exactly like them in almost every sociologically important way. Of course, by many of your viewers, I mean your white, straight, male viewers. Your female audience, your audience members of color, your non-heterosexual audience, etc., has spent their entire lives identifying with whatever main character they happen to be watching at the moment. It's a thing us girls (and the other mentioned categories) are used to. Boys get the fun roles. White boys get the fun roles, and at the end of the show they also get the girl, so we've figured out that it's pretty easy to sympathize with male characters, to jump into their brains and understand their motivations and think they're badass characters. We also love doing this with girls, non-white characters, and so on.

But listen, Hollywood, I totally understand that much of the white male part of your audience has not yet come to the stunning conclusion that just because the hero is not exactly like me (except with a more exciting life) you don't have to tune out and go find something with a whiter, maler protagonist.

(As a side note, I should mention I do know a good number of men who are able to identify with female characters, and other characters unlike themselves. Which is really cool, and always a good indicator of character! But, you know, they seem to me to be firmly in the minority of the whole guy population.)

I'm saying you need more girls, for one. For two, drop the straight until proven otherwise attitude toward characters. But in this particular instance, I'm more saying oh, my god. Brown/black/whatever people are not inherently scary. Please, please understand this. I know taking something clever someone has already written and dumbing it down for a movie is a really easy way to make a quick buck these days. "Real life stories" are being made into movies, books and comic books are being made into movies, hell, movies are being made into other, newer movies. But seriously, you guys, when your character is originally Asian (or black, or a girl, or some other frightening non-white, male entity) PLEASE GOD DO NOT CHANGE THEM.

The reason so many white men cannot fathom leaving their comfort sphere to identify with a dissimilar character is because they have literally never had to do so. Challenge them! I think, like a whole generation of girls and people of color they will find it a rewarding, enriching, and media-canon expanding experience!

For example, there are many Asian actors who would make really fantastic main characters! You really don't have to make them the comic relief incapable of properly pronouncing the letter L, or the wise old man doomed to die, or even the crazy kung fu fighter! Occasionally, real-life Asian people do other things than that! Isn't it great? It is important, though, to remember that despite being so far away, Asia is not one amorphous blob. If your story calls for a Japanese character, picking a Chinese actor to play them will irritate a lot of people. (Picking a white actor to play them will seriously piss off a lot of people. Just FYI.)

No seriously. Look how hot John Cho is. Why is he not starring in every movie ever. Why the hell do I want to watch an all white cast of Avatar? The answer is, I don't. It's like if they'd cast, idk, the sixth sense kid as Harry Potter. It would ruin it completely! Harry Potter is British! Ang is Asian! This is not that difficult, people!