It’s Both


Through the Wire, reactions to Prince of Persia:

  • ‘Insulting’ The blogger Jehanzeb Dar, who writes at Muslim Reverie, told the Associated Press that Gyllenhaal’s casting is “not only insulting to Persians, it’s also insulting to white people. It’s saying white people can’t enjoy movies unless the protagonist is white.” (Dar later contacted the Wire to clarify that he meant the film is insulting to “people of color,” not specifically Persians.) In a related post on Muslim Reverie, Dar disgustedly juxtaposes Prince of Persia with the 2007 film 300, where “the Persians were not only portrayed by people of color, but also horribly demonized without apology. Now, when the Persians are the ‘good guys,’ they are played by lovely White people.”
  • Hang On a Second, protests Nicholas Deleon at CrunchGear. “Dar’s way over-thinking this. I’m sure the film’s producers were merely thinking, ‘We need to find a male actor who’s reasonably well-known to the American movie-goer. Quick, intern, go through this list of actors and see who’s available for two months sometime in the next six months. We’ll go with whoever the hell answers our phone calls.’ I guess Jake Gyllenhaal, the actor who plays Prince, wasn’t busy. That’s all that happened, people.”

They are making a summer blockbuster, so they needed a big name. Because they needed a big name, they could basically only select a white guy who could get tan enough to fool movie-goers, because there aren’t any big name Persian or even middle-eastern actors. It’s a perpetual cycle of racism.

That’s why, when you hear people talk about how America is post-racial now (though I think most people have wisened up), you have to laugh. The country apparently won’t go see a Persian actor in a movie called Prince of Persia. As mentioned earlier here, 66% of people know legal Latino’s will be harassed by police, and yet support for the law is still overwhelming.

There is the question of why the movie was made at all, too–it’s based off of a video game that doesn’t have the iconic status that most video games need to be made into movies. Seeing as how Prince of Persia is designed to be a blockbuster, are there really no other games that could be blockbusters, you know, without the absurd whitewashing? Still no Zelda movie? Why not a Metroid movie?

One Response to “It’s Both”

  1. 1 Kat N.

    yes, yes, I love this post… *evil grins*

    But in all seriousness, this is a huge problem in movies and in theatre. There a number of excellent forgin movies that are remade with American actors because we as a culture don’t “Understand” Asian/Mexican/Indian. Speed Racer (an iconic Japanese cartoon) was made into a summer movie with a white actor. On stage it’s even worse because yellow face has become a standard. There a serval shows in the last 5 to 10 years where the character is white actor dressed and made-up to “look” Asian. “Memoirs of a Geshia” got closer, but still all of the women were played by Chinese actors… but atleast they were Asian.

    P.S. I’m back to Boston in Sept, we should hang out.

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