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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cinema In Noir: Rooney Mara As Native Princess Tiger Lily (Seriously, Hollywood?)

Another day, another Hollywood whitewash. Despite much national discussion across a variety of media outlets about the lack of diversity in Hollywood, it seems like the institution continues to be ignorant of the concept. Today on Cinema in Noir we discussed Hollywood latest offense--casting Caucasian actress Rooney Mara (The Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Native American princess Tiger Lily in the upcoming Peter Pan movie, Pan.

*Pauses for reaction*

This comes after Joe Wright, the director of the project, reportedly described it as "international." There doesn't seem to be much pretense regarding that description, especially since the film is not fully cast yet. But it still has gotten the Internet in a collective uproar, seeing as Hollywood has had a history with being less than kind to characters of Native and Indian descent. To be fair, this latest casting continues a long tradition of whitewashing (or racebending) Tiger Lily, ever since the first big screen adaptation in 1924 when Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong portrayed the character.

This, of course, is nothing against Rooney Mara, who will probably be decent in the role and has proven to be an impressive actress. It's not about her talent or her capability. It's just a shame that in this day and age, when Native and Indian actors are constantly being ignored in the media, that Hollywood couldn't even bother to hold an open casting call to find the next "It" Girl for Tiger Lily. They choose the safe bet, and continue to heighten the careers of only a select handful of actresses without broadening the selection. Ugh.

But, on the bright side, it looks like the small screen is still the best place to find complex, meaty roles for actors and actresses of color. Which is another reason why people like Joe Morton (Scandal), Jennifer Beals, Sophie Okenedo, Keke Palmer and Gabourey Sidibe continue to dominate TV. We talk about their latest small screen roles. Then we discuss the trailer for the new James Brown music video biopic, Get on Up:

I really hope there will be more to this movie than the music. I love a good movie musical just as much as the next normal person, but James Brown's story deserves something more multi-dimensional and richer than that. Let's hope the title doesn't summarize the premise.

Catch up on the latest full episode of Cinema in Noir here.


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