Does One Keep Riding the Pendulum?

Here’s something interesting:

http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/movie-talk-twitter-campaign-wants-community-actor-to-be-first-non-white-spider-man.html

If you don’t feel like looking at that, it’s discussing how there’s something of an internet-based push to cast a black actor as Spider-Man for the movie series reboot.  It’s an intriguing suggestion, because the “white-washing” of movies has become a hotter and hotter topic over the last few years.  The movie 21, which was based loosely on the story of a group of MIT students who went to Vegas on the weekends and counted cards at casinos, cast mostly white actors in the lead rolls when the real students were mostly Asian.  Ouch.  Many people are crying fowl over the casting of Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia (in addition I cry fowl that every time an ancient culture is portrayed in a movie, they all have to fake English accents).  Then there’s the white kid cast as Avatar in The Last Airbender, and so on.

First, I refuse to jump on the bandwagon that’s shouting, “They’re all racists!”  There are many reasons for these casting decisions, not the least of which is making a movie marketable with a big-name star (while I would be more interested in Prince of Persia had it a Persian actor in the lead role, however unknown, I think Gyllenhaal’s casting was first and foremost a business decision).  But I will concur that the ill feelings over this are very justified.  So now, in reaction, some people want a black Peter Parker.  What’s the problem with this?  Well for starters, Peter Parker is white.  The character always has been.  I get that people would find the move to be a powerful reaction, and even retaliation, to Hollywood’s money-over-common-sense attitude.  But to do that for solely that reason would be hypocritical.

Things will likely start swinging the other way with these kinds of decisions in cinema in the near future, but the question I have is: Do we keep it balanced when we get to the right point, or do we keep swinging until the problem is the same but reversed?  It’s not that far-fetched to imagine that Hollywood execs casting actors of Asian, African-American, Indian, or some other non-European ethnicity in roles of characters that have previously been understood to be white.  I’m sure few people would take issue with this happening on occasion, but don’t doubt our modern ability to over-do things.  That’s when the next question has to be asked:  Are we fighting for equal rights of the races?  A truly multi-cultural and color-blind society?  Or are we just retaliating against the actions and perceived actions of white people?  Maybe some would say that last part is necessary and justified; it’s just that I disagree because I believe in the validity of Luke 6:31.

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