It will be interesting to see if the movie and theater industries, both reeling from declining audiences for management, artistic, financial and cultural reasons, will continue to ride the runaway political correctness train off the metaphorical bridge and into the river. “Go woke, get broke” is not just a partisan taunt: there is a lot of evidence that it is very frequently true.
I had started a new file just this week on the now totally incoherent casting “rules” being inflicted on productions and audiences in the U.S., determined to post on them when the file was sufficiently thick. First into the fresh file—the older ones were stuffed and substantially covered in prior EA commentray–was this post, a paean to the recently deceased comic Louis Anderson for his portrayal of Christine Baskets, “the doting but demanding mother of Zach Galifianakis’s depressive clown in the brilliant, bone-dry comedy “Baskets,” which ran on FX from 2016-19.”
Huh? We have been told that actresses have been robbed of the opportunity to play rich and serious roles in films and television. We have watched iconic characters undergo gender change so women could have more opportunities. Meanwhile, Scarlett Johansson was forced to withdraw from the lead role in “Rub & Tug,” about a transsexual male because she wasn’t a transsexual male. As a result, the movie never got made. But the Times, which along with most of the media has cheered on these bonkers and restrictive new “rules” (Maybe my favorite was rule the that Dwayne Johnson, a Samoan-Black Nova Scotian- American, wasn’t black enough to play the fictional “steel-driving” John Henry), celebrates a white, middle-aged comedian’s portrayal of a mother.
Explain, please. No, never mind: I get it: this is Calvinball, run by the corrupt and manipulative tribes and groups who benefit from it.
Next came Peter Dinklage, apparently feeling his oats now that his star turn on “Game of Thrones” has made him the entertainment industry’s biggest “little person.” Dinklage, who is 4’5″, is preparing to play Cyrano in a musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. I love that casting idea; that’s non-traditional casting at its best, assuming Dinklage can sing. Substituting a height disadvantage for Cyrano’s freakish nose should work wonderfully. However, having found that he can now get performing jobs that were once closed to him because of his height, he has decided to object to Disney making an un-animated version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” complaining on a podcast,
They were very, very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White, but you’re still telling the story of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” You’re progressive in one way … but you’re still making that … backward story about seven dwarfs living in a cave. What … are you doing, man?
What are you talking about, man? They didn’t live in a cave: has Dinklage even seen the original movie? They lived in a nice cottage in the forest, and worked in a mine. And what’s “progressive” about casting a Latino actress as “Snow White” when you are trying to evoke the original film, and wouldn’t dare cast a white actress to play “Snow Brown”? Disney, which has become so “woke” that it is ridiculous, instantly groveled to Dinklage’s ignorant complaint, saying, incomprehensibly,
To avoid reinforcing stereotypes from the original animated film, we are taking a different approach with these seven characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community. We look forward to sharing more as the film heads into production after a lengthy development period.
That’s “Huh?” #2. Is it a “stereotype” for dwarfs to be small, like Dinklage? Is it the term “dwarf” that he’s bitching about? The story is hundreds of years old: is Disney supposed to call it “Snow White and the Seven Little People”? It already has a movie in the vault called “Darby O’Gill and the Little People,” but those little people are leprechauns. In fact, at last report, Dinklage is going to star in the American comedy “O Lucky Day” playing a con-man who pretends to be a leprechaun. I assume he’ll be saying things like “Begosh and begorrah!” and “I see ye’ve come to steal me gold! Catch me if you can!” No stereotypes there!
Or will Disney really cave, and call the thing “Snow White and the Seven Variably-Sized Miners”?
Maybe the problem is that the characters in the original film had names like Dopey, Sleepy, and Grumpy and personalities to match. I’m sure the “dwarfism community’ wants them renamed Empathy, Smarty, Healthy, Lively, Friendly, Bravely and Doc, with at least three female dwarfs, two dwarfs of color, a transsexual dwarf, and one with hooks or diverticulitis or something. Sounds terrific: another success like “West Side Story.
Today came the trigger for the post: a review of the new Off-Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” generally regarded as America’s greatest playwright’s greatest play. (I vote “The Iceman Cometh” myself). I won’t get into the issue of the “reimagined” version of the four-act drama being cut to less than two, except to say that such a production is no more O’Neill than the Cliff Notes “Moby-Dick” is Melville. However, this is a family drama; indeed an autobiographical family drama, indeed THE autobiographical family drama of the American stage repertoire. There’s the “family” above.
The two white actors, representing O’Neill’s parents, have two black sons, and the Times reviewer thinks this is just swell, it’s “colorblind casting.” Yet he would not—trust me on this—celebrate colorblind casting in Lorraine Hansberry’s black family drama “Raisin in the Sun,” which would 1) be absurd and 2) would steal acting jobs from black actors. Colorblind casting is destructive in dramas that are about the dynamics of a family, because the audience cannot suspend its disbelief, even if critics with an agenda pretend they can.
I suppose one defense for this production would be that since it’s not even half of what O’Neill wrote and littered with such distractions as pandemic face masks, it might as well pander to “Inclusivity and Diversity.” (Hey! Those could be dwarf names!)
OK. I think I’ll wait for the real thing before I shell out any of my increasingly hard earned cash, though.