Why Colorblind Casting Works

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Loved ones, it’s a hard truth to swallow but, we’re all somewhat prejudiced. At least, as far as entertainment is concerned we are. We all have set notions about the way certain characters should look and act–about who our heroes and our villains should be. This is most likely due to the fact that Hollywood consistently employs archetypes and formulas in its films–particularly in the genres of action, horror and comedy. As a result, we tend to develop preconceived notions about the characters and story-lines of films even before we see them. Oh, she’s a blonde girl in a horror film? That means she’s a slut, and that she’s going to be the first one to die. Oh, he’s a black dude in a crime drama? Well, that can only mean that he’s a drug dealer and/or ex-con. Now, on it’s own, this presumption about fiction might seem harmless, but it can have serious real-life consequences. If all we ever see of certain groups is what’s shown to us in TV and movies, and those representations are biased or inaccurate, we can develop negative and fallacious conceptions of those groups. Not all blonde girls are sluts. Not all Black guys are drug dealers or ex-cons. This is why Colorblind Casting is such a good thing.

For those of you who don’t know, Colorblind Casting is when a filmmaker chooses to cast an actor in a part that they might not typically be seen in–i.e. casting a Black person to play a character traditionally shown as White, casting a woman in a role usually reserved for a man, etc. This has been done several times throughout theater and cinema history, and more often than not, to positive effect. In the sci-fi horror classic Alien, for instance, the main character, Ripley, was supposed to be a man, but the director, Ridley Scott, ended up casting Sigourney Weaver in the role. Similarly, the 2008 BBC television series Merlin employed several actors of color in roles traditionally described in the Arthurian legends as Caucasian, most notably Queen Guinevere and Sir Elyan The White. Basically, Colorblind Casting is an incredibly good, not entirely uncommon practice, and one that I believe more filmmakers should partake in. Why? Well, three reasons, actually.

First, Colorblind Casting is good for the actors. Whether we like to think about it or not, women and minorities do oftentimes get relegated to smaller and/or stereotypical roles in films and television. So, when they’re chosen for non-conventional, higher-profile parts, critics and audiences tend to pay attention, and the actor in question’s career usually takes a turn for the better.

Second, Colorblind Casting is good for the filmmakers. Studies have shown that films and TV shows with more diverse casts tend to do better with critics and make more money. Just look at Grey’s Anatomy. The creators of the show wrote the characters without any specific racial identities, cast the actors who did the best job, regardless of how they looked, and now the series is on its 12th season. That’s got to tell you something.

And third, Colorblind Casting is good for audiences. As I stated earlier, the way we perceive certain groups is oftentimes influenced by how those groups are represented in media. If those representations are more well-rounded, then our perceptions of the groups in question will likewise be more nuanced. Alien’s Ellen Ripley taught us that women can be bad-ass action heroes. Hannibal’s Beverly Katz showed America that Asians can be witty, well-rounded and tough, and don’t have to know Kung Fu, speak broken English or lack a sense of humor to be taken seriously.

So why not employ Colorblind Casting more often? It’s good for the people making the films, and it’s good for the people watching them. It is, in every sense of the phrase, a win-win situation. That is why I’m calling upon all aspiring filmmakers out there to keep an open mind when working on a project. Don’t just go for the first thing that comes to mind when casting. Try to envision what the story would be like if the main character were Asian, Latino, Female or Disabled. If you do so, I can almost guarantee that good things will happen to everyone involved.

 

If you agree, and would like to share your thoughts, please leave a reply. If you disagree, and would like to express why, don’t hesitate to do so. And if you enjoyed this post, and would like to see more, feel free to follow my blog at liusviews.com

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