Casting announced for Jem and the Holograms. comments on the post are pretty damn stupid, as most are complaining that Shana and Aja are white-washed but express themselves terribly.
Question: Is it white-washing to cast biracial actors in these roles? Most comments are arguing that the actors chosen are white, when they’re biracial (or multi-ethnic — whichever is most apt).
I do agree that Shana’s skintone was darker in the show than the actor cast and there’s a huge issue with dark skinned actors/models/etc being looked over for lighter counterparts in roles.
That said, there’s also a massive issue for anyone who is biracial or of a multi-ethnic background where people in other groups say “oh, sorry, you’re not [insert culture/ethnicity/race] enough”.
Does that mean Aurora Perrineau can only play biracial characters (this seems silly)? Or is the argument that if Shana has darker skin, then the actor cast should reflect that so little girls who have dark skin see themselves in her (this, unlike the comments on that blog post, is a good argument).
If the argument is that Hollywood often casts biracial actors further supporting the idea that anyone without some whiteness in them is an “other”, then I am interested as all hell in the argument.
If the argument is that Hayley Kiyoko “isn’t Asian enough”, then I think whomever holds this idea has serious issues about identity when it comes to ethnicity. Would having two Japanese parents be enough (she’s mixed, but you gather my point, right?)? Or does she have to speak Japanese too? Would “Asian enough” mean she was born in Japan? Or is it cool if her grandparents moved here before her parents were born?
Aja is described only as “Asian-American”. I am unsure if the show explored her heritage in any way, as the Holograms were all foster kids.
As a pasty white girl with european ancestry, I have no horse in this race and get my understanding of how complex these issues are from women of color that are my friends (note that still doesn’t mean I have a horse in this race — this is not my issue personally, but I want to understand how those that it directly affects feel about it). As intersectionality is fucking important, however, I don’t want good arguments to be undone by dumbass commenters on a blog.
I am so damn happy to not see four white girls cast, as that’d be so untrue to the show, but just because this is progress doesn’t mean they did it perfectly. So #realtalk this one out.
Do you like the casting choices?
Do you think casting a biracial/multi-ethnic actor is white-washing?
Why are these actors so young and I am now so old?
I’m not happy with the casting choices at all.
Firstly, it’s with the race thing. I was VERY excited and very hopeful that maybe, -just maybe- the cast picked would’ve been good. Especially with the open casting, people putting submissions in, and after seeing some videos (e.x. the 80’s dance-off Shana video & the audition video with Traci Hines and others, etc. that are across youtube). I was on my knees, praying to God, that the ‘modernizing’ would be good enough to reflect the flashiness of the old school cartoon/doll line. That maybe I’d take some serious inspiration from the new Shana character.
When I got on my computer and looked at the poster, I had to stop for a moment. I had to look up these people, and I had to seriously confirm their racial background.
Representation was EXTREMELY important in this. Even though Shana and Aja were supporting characters, and the series was mainly about Jerrica acting a fool in a love triangle + band drama oh noez, their image was so key when it came to letting black kids and asian kids have their own icon in that franchise to look at. Shana’s presence was extremely important for me to see watching the series. It was important to my sisters.
So for me to look at Aurora Perrineau, and really question, “wait, is that a Caucasian girl? Is she not African American? Did they really—” Yes, it is troubling that they chose a mix-raced female as Shana. BUT it’s not because she IS mix-raced, it is because her physical image is not adequate to the original Shana character from the series. She is nowhere close to Shana, and when dark skinned girls they are not going to imagine themselves in her position.
Majority of them will most likely not even have a clue that she is part black, and they will not connect with her as a character, and they will be losing a positive, influential character. And even if they do know of it, it would just be another example of fairer skinned people being seen with more opportunities and dreams being made. They will not see a chocolate-toned female entreprenural figure who can play multiple instruments, and can design clothing, her style was crazy, and fun, just like the other girls, and she was free to express her creativity (and if they include her love interest, she gets with someone who has himself equally together and meshes with her so well.). When I was younger and I saw her and other black characters, that helped shape my dreams and how I would view myself at that time, already seeing options I had that I could fulfill for myself; they will not see that as easily.
I jokingly said on my facebook, “This is like Ice T getting casted to play Shaft.” Shana was put in the series because they needed a black character. They needed someone of that complexion in the show. If they didn’t need her to be that complexion, they could’ve kept the caramel tone from the original dolls. So while Aurora getting casted isn’t worthy of getting slurs thrown at for being mixed-race, for the producers to ultimately choose her is injustice against the black girls of this current generation who could be taking SO MUCH MORE from Shana’s character, because they cannot identify with her. And likewise for Aja; I had to also double-check because she have pretty heavy Caucasian features, and while I can’t identify as an Asian-American, I’m sure it’s probably the same thing— children who would try to look up to these characters like I have when I was little won’t easily identify with them and take from that image.
So it’s a bit unnerving to see “but aren’t they good enough???” because they are part-black/asian. Out of all the arguments I’ve seen (not from you, generally speaking) about Caucasian superhero characters not having an actress or actor that looks like them or would represent and do justice to that specific character, but people can’t just simply be angry without a more ‘logical response’. They can get angry. I also popped off about it as well for a good minute. They have reason to be angry and extremely disappointed.
Other than that, I’m just overall disappointed that the producers made this huge thing about auditioning and that “ANYONE CAN APPLY” whether multitalented, talented with only one thing, costuming, whatever. And people took their passion for this series and tried to a hell of a lot, if not their all, into creative videos and media to send to these guys, just for these actresses who are not-well-known-but-clearly-connected-to-Hollywood to get chosen. Did they give in a winning submission? Did they do something outstanding as far as the fandom was concerned? Were they on point to their character?
It was a waste of time and a waste of effort for those who really wanted to be a part, just to really be used to stir up the fanbase again. And I sincerely hope that they have comfort that other fellow fans enjoyed their work, and that they don’t see their work as trash because the producers want to butcher Jem however they please to.
Love this response and hope tumblr app doesn’t butcher it. Thank you. This is a well worded argument that some ignorant commentors on that blog post NEED to see.
Interesting re: how they casted. I’ve been out of the loop and am going to check that out more. Seriously disappointing.