Can I talk about this modern trend in "diversity casting in TV shows?"

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Samtemdo8

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So I'm surfing the latest media news and such and I stumble upon the latest news of the Game of Thrones Spin-Off show called House of the Dragon and I see this article, where the showrunners literally say this stuff.


“It was very important for Miguel and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen, We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show, but we didn’t want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.” Martin “toyed early on with the idea of depicting the Velaryons as Black conquerors who came to Westeros from the west,” which Condal immediately saw as the future of the series. “Once we had that idea, it just felt like everything fell into place,” Condal explained.

And now I feel like something is wrong here for me because I see that sentence, "create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen" And I am just thinking, How is this not a racist thing in of itself? Swap white with black and you can see the deal there. And then I read comments pointing the ironic problematic elements, the idea of a Targaryans as black supremacists and that in the actual canon we have now, the Targaryans engaged in the continental slave trade in Essos.

All I am saying is, have we gone too far with this trend of diversity casting and casting established white characters with black actors now? Like I didn't made a big fuss about what's her face in Obi Wan because she's a new/original character in the end, (still would not care too much about Obi-Wan with or without her), but the diversity casting here? It feels like it went full circle to be ironically racist.
 

Trunkage

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I'd just point out that anyone non-white was automatically not in GoT. Somehow.... across 7 kingdoms.... all white. And Dothraki. (Maybe you can stretch Dorne to being Egyptian.)

So, just to be clear, GoT wasn't about talent first. It was about skin colour first. Now, this you might lay at the feet of Martin. That's up to you
 
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Hawki

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It's an asinine line of thought, but it's one many people have embraced. I could play this game with any fictional setting and take umbrage for the presence/lack of presence for any real-world ethnicity/culture, but since I don't play stupid games, I've so far no won any stupid prizes (which is why this post is so short, because there's literally infintie settings with infinite inspirations and infinite in-universe criteria).

Still, HotD won't be made or broken based on the skin colour of its characters, so there's that. Speaking personally, I'm not that interested. Of all the spinoffs you could have had for Game of Thrones, it just comes off as Game of Thrones 2.0 - gimme the Long Night or something.

I'd just point out that anyone non-white was automatically not in GoT. Somehow.... across 7 kingdoms.... all white. And Dothraki. (Maybe you can stretch Dorne to being Egyptian.)

So, just to be clear, GoT wasn't about talent first. It was about skin colour first. Now, this you might lay at the feet of Martin. That's up to you
Lo and behold, the game is played.

Alright, I'll play:

-Dorne is part of the Seven Kingdoms, how many Dornish would you call "white?" Not really any of them. Also, Dorne is canonically based on Palestine, Wales, and Spain, in case you're wondering.

-Dothraki are one of the many groups in Essos, and there's plenty of Essosi characters in the series.

-Out-of-universe, Westeros is based on Europe, while in-universe, the groups of the world tend to be fairly hemogenous (e.g. you won't find many Westerosi in Yi Ti), so that most of the characters are "white" would to be expected.
 
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Gergar12

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Hot take most of the Disney Plus content has been really good with diversity, but Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness's actor Xochitl Gomez-Deines did a horrible job, the whole movie was weird, but her acting, in particular, was bad, and this is coming from someone who loved the new Captain America show.
 

Dirty Hipsters

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It's weird having asian people playing roles that are supposed to be white just because the source material is an anime. It's also weird having white people play characters that were previously asian in the source material just because it's live action now. Basically, race swapping is weird even when it turns out fine so I'd rather it be avoided.

Having said that, I'm not going to get mad about people adding a certain race to a fictional fantasy land just because "swords and sorcery" settings are generally based on medieval Europe. Seems silly to be mad about the racial make up of a fantasy land.
 

Chimpzy

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Meh, I don't care so long as the actors do a good job. That's their whole job after all, pretending to be someone they're not. If a race swapped performance doesn't work it imo indicates one of two (or both) things: 1) the actor doesn't have the chops to sell the performance, 2) the viewer is unable or unwilling to see anything other than their skin color.
 

Agema

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Meh, I don't care so long as the actors do a good job. That's their whole job after all, pretending to be someone they're not. If a race swapped performance doesn't work it imo indicates one of two (or both) things: 1) the actor doesn't have the chops to sell the performance, 2) the viewer is unable or unwilling to see anything other than their skin color.
Likewise, I tend to find myself remarkably unbothered. There are ways I think it can be spectacularly messed up, but by and large... as a viewer just get on with it for heaven's sake.
 
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Trunkage

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Lo and behold, the game is played.

Alright, I'll play:
Alright, I'll play

Just to be clear, this book is fictional. It's not like whiteness or any other colour is necessary. No one here is Paul Arterdis making a statement on colonialism

Yes, GoT IS based on Europe. No, that does not mean it should determine skin colour

For example:

-Dorne is part of the Seven Kingdoms, how many Dornish would you call "white?" Not really any of them. Also, Dorne is canonically based on Palestine, Wales, and Spain, in case you're wondering.
You got this description of a culture here, right? Does that have ANY bearing on what colour skin they should have? Or do you think cultures are genetic? i.e. They could look Asian and had this cultural mix

Now we got this:
-Out-of-universe, Westeros is based on Europe, while in-universe, the groups of the world tend to be fairly hemogenous (e.g. you won't find many Westerosi in Yi Ti), so that most of the characters are "white" would to be expected.
Its a FICTIONAL book. Why the FUCK would Yi Ti be Asian is Planetos? It NOT Earth. Its a whole different world

Now, some of the issues comes down to Martin not getting his measurements right. For example, the story is based on the War of the Roses right? That war happen in the same space as the Iron Island. Doing it over the continent like Westeros, which is similar in size to Europe just doesn't make sense. But this gets to the next point:
-Dothraki are one of the many groups in Essos, and there's plenty of Essosi characters in the series.
Westeros is similar size to Europe, Essos is similar size to Asia or Africa. Essos is no longer 'European'. Also, the size of the seven kingdoms, should have had way more people in it. He depopulated the world, leading to less representation. But again, I think this is a result of Martin not understanding distances

Again, it's FICTIONAL. Martin could have made anyone any colour, even if he was basing it on Europeans. But he didn't. I don't see anywhere near the racism in this realm, so I don't see why interracial marriage wouldn't be popular, unlike real Europe where they had to keep the bloodlines 'clean. Nor do I see any need for characters in this story needing to BE white or non-white.

The only thing I would add is that Westeros is endless summer, for decades even. If anything, it would be weird anyone white because they are always in the sun. But I legit couldn't care about this
 

Thaluikhain

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Again, it's FICTIONAL. Martin could have made anyone any colour, even if he was basing it on Europeans.
To add to this, when you are creating your cool fantasy world full of dragons and a zillion other types of magic creature, if you decide to also say there's no POC..."in my fantasy, everyone is white" seems an odd thing to say.
 

Kyrian007

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I've never really had a problem with casting whoever to play whatever. If it is casting for representation, more specifically, I don't have an issue. The problems of "blackface" and or "yellowface" and other such issues were problematic because of caricature, those were obviously wrong. But for representation, getting some acting roles open for those who still have a hard time getting cast more often than not... no problem with that. If some idiot at a convention asking a director "but ______ couldn't possibly be played by _______ because the character isn't (insert whatever race.)" I wouldn't have a problem with the director responding with, "I did it specifically to piss off people like you... (raises middle fingers) deal with it, *****." In fact, I'd probably like and share that youtube video.

In one of my favorite post-2000's movie, a black man was cast as former President John F. Kennedy. And he was amazing. I don't think Shakespeare envisioned Mercutio as black, but Harrold Perrineau as Mercutio was great in Romeo + Juliet, even if most of the rest of the movie... really wasn't. Neither choice "made sense" in the minds of idiots who complain about such things. But what both choices were... was genius. If the actors are good enough, who cares anyway. If Denzel Washington had been cast as Ned Stark and Angela Bassett as Lady Catelyn, but they kept the rest of the Stark casting exactly the same... who is anyone here to tell me that wouldn't have been just as good or even better than what wound up on HBO? "But the kids wouldn't have been white then" ITS FREAKING FICTION, maybe it works that way sometimes in that world. Deal with it. "But what about struggling white actors, what about when they have a hard time getting cast because everyone wants representation?" I don't know, maybe they should just git gud. Then they'd get cast.
 
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Schadrach

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So, just to be clear, GoT wasn't about talent first. It was about skin colour first.
So was Black Panther. Did Wakanda need to be more white? Or at least have significant Asian representation?

Did Squid Game have too many Korean actors, and Alice in Borderland too many Japanese actors?

Now, this you might lay at the feet of Martin. That's up to you
Of course you can lay the ethnic distribution of characters in Martin's work at Martin's feet. The question is does every work need to consist of 57.8% white, 18.7% Hispanic, 12.4% Black and 6% Asian characters (in case you are wondering, I googled the racial distribution of the US and grabbed the top result)?

Meh, I don't care so long as the actors do a good job. That's their whole job after all, pretending to be someone they're not. If a race swapped performance doesn't work it imo indicates one of two (or both) things: 1) the actor doesn't have the chops to sell the performance, 2) the viewer is unable or unwilling to see anything other than their skin color.
Or 3) the film/show is based off an existing work with existing characters with solid descriptions and aesthetics, and them looking radically different than drawn/described previously is jarring.

If you cast an aboriginal australian woman to play Heracles, people are going to give you an odd look.
 
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immortalfrieza

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All I am saying is, have we gone too far with this trend of diversity casting and casting established white characters with black actors now? Like I didn't made a big fuss about what's her face in Obi Wan because she's a new/original character in the end, (still would not care too much about Obi-Wan with or without her), but the diversity casting here? It feels like it went full circle to be ironically racist.
We went too far with diversity a long LONG time ago. We've had black actors put in just because they're black, asian people put in just because they're asian... It's even worse with sexual orientation or gender identity, because that's something that's not even noticeable at a glance in the first place. LGBTQ actors are hired to portray a character that is themselves LGBTQ, as though it would be impossible to hire a straight actor to play a gay character for some reason. What the actors look like and what they identify as is apparently more important than how good they are as actors. For every 1 black actor that gets hired for say portraying The Mighty Thor, a traditionally male white guy because they are actually great for the part there's 100 more that are getting the job just because of their race.

Probably the worst is when usually in comic books they take characters that have been traditionally male, white, and straight and replace them with women/black/LGBTQ/etc. characters or typically with identity throwing on a LGBTQ trait out of nowhere that they never even hinted at having before. Always as obvious publicity stunts, as though diversity characters can't stand on their own without having to ride on the backs of notable white male characters, which is incredibly insulting in itself to everyone. What they should be doing is creating new diversity characters as sidekicks and such, build up a fanbase, and then spin them off or taking the diversity characters that already exist and promoting them more. Make diversity by adding rather than changing or subtracting.

Sometimes like with the Falcon replacing Captain America (twice!) they really go way too far by taking an already established and popular diversity character and having them replace a popular white male character, even though said diversity character already could have and did stand on their own. Thus they're not only removing a white male character but robbing people of a diversity character who has value of their own.

So... yeah, prejudice and discrimination is as alive and well as ever in Hollywood, it's just what direction it's going now that's changed. In this day and age straight white men are considered the acceptable target to the extent that there's people out there that consider it outright impossible to discriminate against them... somehow.
 
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Samtemdo8

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To add to this, when you are creating your cool fantasy world full of dragons and a zillion other types of magic creature, if you decide to also say there's no POC..."in my fantasy, everyone is white" seems an odd thing to say.
Did he say there is no POC in his world?
 
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Hades

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Sometimes like with the Falcon replacing Captain America (twice!) they really go way too far by taking an already established and popular diversity character and having them replace a popular white male character, even though said diversity character already could have and did stand on their own. Thus they're not only removing a white male character but
Not really. Captain America is a title, not a person. Steve stepping down and another character taking the mantle isn't '''replacing'' anything. Its just a man passing on his title to another.

The old guard passing on their mantle to successors seems just a very logical step for stories that go on forever.
 
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Agema

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Now, some of the issues comes down to Martin not getting his measurements right. For example, the story is based on the War of the Roses right? That war happen in the same space as the Iron Island. Doing it over the continent like Westeros, which is similar in size to Europe just doesn't make sense.
I don't agree with this. The War of the Roses need merely represent a bunch of nobles squabbling over a throne and settling a load of their own individual grievances whilst they're at it. The size of the realm does not really matter so much for that concept.

Westeros is similar size to Europe, Essos is similar size to Asia or Africa. Essos is no longer 'European'. Also, the size of the seven kingdoms, should have had way more people in it. He depopulated the world, leading to less representation. But again, I think this is a result of Martin not understanding distances
Well, maybe. It depends how big Westeros is, as that is not clear. If we say it is roughly equivalent to Western Europe and Scandivia, if the seven kingdoms generally equate medieval comparisons like Great Britain (~3 million) through Spain (~10 million) to France (~15 million) in size and population, I think Westeros checks out credibly enough, as the medieval population of Europe was ~80 million. The west coast of Essos with city states is thematically is something like Greece/Italy (including our classical empire, the Valyrians) - so still European by comparison to the real world, and similar to the Andals. Beyond that Dothraki who are effectively like the Turks: and Turks are also Caucasian.

But there's no particular reason to hold to this for a TV adaptation: they could make the Dothraki black or East Asian for all it matters.

Where there is unrealism is the lack of cultural diversity within Westeros. Even with limited races (excluding Dorne, basically just First Men and Andals) you'd expect over the millennia there would have been very considerable cultural and linguistic divergence across a landmass that size. There could also be some racial divergence, particularly in Dorne as the desert climate would heavily favour darker skin, with sufficient millennia to have facilitated that even without a third race popping in.
 

Trunkage

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So was Black Panther. Did Wakanda need to be more white? Or at least have significant Asian representation?

Did Squid Game have too many Korean actors?
For shows/movies... set in the real world.... where the RACE and CULTURE of people is important?

Did you just misunderstand what I'm trying to say or just doing it deliberately?

I used Paul Atreidis as an example of when RACE WAS IMPORTANT to the story. It was Frank Herbert exploring the White Saviour complex. Paul not being white would have ruined that part of the story. In Black Panther, race was integral to telling the story they wanted to make. They also put a WHITE DUDE in there for diversity reasons, making sure the white men didnt feel left out

Can you show me where race what is important in GoT like I just did above with Dune?

Of course you can lay the ethnic distribution of characters in Martin's work at Martin's feet. The question is does every work need to consist of 57.8% white, 18.7% Hispanic, 12.4% Black and 6% Asian characters (in case you are wondering, I googled the racial distribution of the US and grabbed the top result)?
Did it need to be 100% white? Because that's what we got
 

Hawki

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Alright, I'll play

Just to be clear, this book is fictional. It's not like whiteness or any other colour is necessary.
True.

No one here is Paul Arterdis making a statement on colonialism
Um, because he isn't?

Paul's more a statement on "great man syndrome" and how destructive religion is (or religious fanaticism if you're being generous).

Yes, GoT IS based on Europe. No, that does not mean it should determine skin colour
Thing is, I actually agree, but the fact that you've veered way off course from the original issue raised in this thread aside, if I say "fantasy setting X is based on continent/country/culture Y," you're probably going to get a solid idea as to what the people of said setting look like.

You got this description of a culture here, right? Does that have ANY bearing on what colour skin they should have? Or do you think cultures are genetic? i.e. They could look Asian and had this cultural mix
Re-read what I wrote, and re-read what you wrote, because you've shifted the goalposts so far you've ended up in a different playing field.

I've already cited the real-world inspirations for Dorne. We know what the Dornish look like - they're hardly "white."

Yes, of course Asians (Essosi) could be thrown into the mix, the Rhoynar already come from not-Asia, what's your point? The Dornish could have been anything, but we know what they are in-universe, and what their real-world inspirations are. None of that should be controversial.

Its a FICTIONAL book. Why the FUCK would Yi Ti be Asian is Planetos? It NOT Earth. Its a whole different world
Yi Ti is explicitly inspired by imperial China, there's no controversy there.

I seriously don't understand you. It's like you're terrified of acknowledging that fictional places/peoples have real-world inspirations.

Now, some of the issues comes down to Martin not getting his measurements right. For example, the story is based on the War of the Roses right? That war happen in the same space as the Iron Island. Doing it over the continent like Westeros, which is similar in size to Europe just doesn't make sense. But this gets to the next point:
Not sure what that has to do with anything - I pointed out that there were plenty of Essosi characters in the series, now you're going on about country sizes?

Westeros is similar size to Europe, Essos is similar size to Asia or Africa. Essos is no longer 'European'.
Essos has never been "European," it's clearly inspired by the Near/Middle East. This isn't some grand revelation.

Also, the size of the seven kingdoms, should have had way more people in it. He depopulated the world, leading to less representation.
Da fuq?

You're really going down the rabbit hole there. Also, I don't know where you're getting the idea of having more people in it, I don't think absolute numbers have ever been given bar a few generalities (e.g. the Seven Kingdoms no. in the millions).

Again, it's FICTIONAL. Martin could have made anyone any colour, even if he was basing it on Europeans. But he didn't.
Um, there's plenty of people of different skin tones in the universe, I'm not sure what your point is.

I don't see anywhere near the racism in this realm, so I don't see why interracial marriage wouldn't be popular, unlike real Europe where they had to keep the bloodlines 'clean.
Ah yes, the Targaryens, who...oh, wait, they practiced incest to preserve the bloodline...yeah...

You're right in a sense, for the average joe, there doesn't seem to be any compunction against marrying outside your 'group,' so to speak. Not so much for royalty however.

Nor do I see any need for characters in this story needing to BE white or non-white.
Well, sure, but you could say that for almost any fictional setting, and it depends on when the "need" begins.

I mean, here's the facts as they stand:

-Westeros is based on Europe.

-Essos is based on Asia (technically Eurasia, but that's semantics)

-Most of the story takes place in Westeros and Essos. The peoples of both regions tend to correspond to their real-world counterparts.

-The showrunners of House of the Dragon (which is what started this thread) decided to create a show that was "create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen," which, at best, is an asinine comment and blinkered look at the fantasy genre. There's nothing that forbids Essosi or people of Sothyos being in Westeros per se, but if that's your starting point, then yikes.

I mean, we can agree on this, right? It isn't some conspiracy to say that the setting of ASoIaF takes plenty of real-world inspiration, and that the people of its regions tend to correspond to their real-world counterparts, right?
 

Hawki

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Sometimes like with the Falcon replacing Captain America (twice!) they really go way too far by taking an already established and popular diversity character and having them replace a popular white male character, even though said diversity character already could have and did stand on their own. Thus they're not only removing a white male character but
I really, REALLY disagree there.

If you're referring to the MCU, I think it's handled well. Captain America is a title, Falcon absolutely earns the role, or at the very least, there's a clear line of progression that he follows to get to it.

If we're talking about comics though, I can't comment, but I'm not sure what the issue is there.

Not referring to GRRM and GoT in particular, just the trend of everyone just happening to be white in a lot of things where there's no particular reason for it.
Well, sure, but I'm assuming most of us live in Anglosphere nations, and Anglosphere nations are predominantly white. That isn't a value judgement, that's just a denographic fact. So the majority of stories made by the majority of the people are going to generally draw from their own culture. This isn't even odd, I can go to non-Anglo sections in the libraries I work at (Chinese, Arabic, etc.), and look at the works on display - what do you think those works deal with predominantly?

So I can apply this to ASoIaF. George Martin is an American who's drawing from European (mainly British) history, where the bulk of the story takes place, with a good chunk of it taking place in an area inspired by the near/mid-East (Essos). Similarly, when GoT was adapted into Turkish and Indian counterparts (forget their names), what do you think those works predominantly focused on?

For shows/movies... set in the real world.... where the RACE and CULTURE of people is important?

Did you just misunderstand what I'm trying to say or just doing it deliberately?
Sometimes those things are important, sometimes not. That's true for both real-world and fantasy settings.

I used Paul Atreidis as an example of when RACE WAS IMPORTANT to the story. It was Frank Herbert exploring the White Saviour complex. Paul not being white would have ruined that part of the story.
Completely, absolutely disagree.

Race isn't relevant to Dune. In all the works of Dune I've read, I don't think I've ever seen race be brought into it. FFS, the story takes place 40,000 years into the future, the concept of race as we know it is unlikely to even exist.

Can you show me where race what is important in GoT like I just did above with Dune?
Race doesn't seem to exist in GoT, but ethnicity does.

It's not that important, true, but there's clearly ethnic distinctions in the world. If anything, it's far more relevant to GoT than Dune, which doesn't really deal with race or ethnicity at all.

Did it need to be 100% white? Because that's what we got
That's such a whopper, I'm going to let that quote sit there so the world can laugh at it.
 
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