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?
Speaking as a Mixed Black WOC, I hate these casting choices. Hollywood had an opportunity to really showcase some fresh, young, DIVERSE actresses, but opted out of it by casting almost racially ambiguous girls. This is usually done out of the ‘But not TOO Black (or other race)’ trope, and fully supports the idea of having to be mixed with White in order to be deemed actually attractive while still being ~*exotic*~.
Now, to address the point of bi-/multi-racial people being denied their backgrounds. This really is a thing that happens, and yes, it’s an issue. However, I’d like to point out that depending on how ‘white-passing’ a white-mixed person is, they have many more opportunities for roles and benefits because of how society IDs them. (note, that this can be completely different from how they ID themselves, and also doesn’t usually apply to people not mixed with white, which is a different issue altogether.) I am all for Mixed people (of all shade and mixtures) getting more exposure and screen time, but not like this. Not at the expense of other people, especially other WOC, being denied a chance to see themselves represented in Media.
Shana was originally a darkskinned Black woman that was not only part of a successful band, but also a competent and talented fashion designer. It’s so rare to see such positive things attributed to a black woman, let alone a darkskinned black woman, without her being punished or put in her place in some other manner. We NEED that, and yet, the (now grown) little Black girls that latched onto Shana for dear life because she was the only one that looked like them have essentially been replaced with someone so litebrite that I initially thought she was completely white. That’s damaging, and only further reinforces the message that’s used to beat them down every day. That they aren’t pretty. They aren’t successful. They aren’t happy. They aren’t important.
I’m not East Asian (or any Asian) so I can’t completely speak to situation with Aja, but I can imagine that it’s quite similar, because again, to me at least, the actress immediately ID’d as White.
All in all, a half-assed attempt at token diversity is unacceptable, not progress. We should NEVER have to be satisfied with the crumbs of White Hollywood’s ‘pandering’ to our very existences.
Reblogging this response too. Tumblr app best not screw it up. Thank you for taking the time to clarify.