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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Live-action representation is messy

Photo provided by Vulture, Disney

By Nicole Banh | Staff Writer

   As new live-action media is being produced and released, a problem arises with their casting. In trying to provide a more diverse cast, studios are unfortunately neglecting the accuracy of their casting. 

   Controversy was stirred up when Netflix posted a trailer for a documentary series called, “Queen Cleopatra.” The purpose of this piece of media is to show the lives of different African Queens. It also casts Adele James, a black actress, as Cleopatra.

   However, despite some debate around Cleopatra’s ethnicity, the general consensus is that she was Greek and fair-skinned. The purpose of documentaries is to provide accurate information and to inform people. Since Cleopatra was a real person, it is even more important to accurately represent her. 

   This would have been a wonderful opportunity to cast a Greek actor, or at the very least an Egyptian actor, thus also giving more opportunities to these groups. By doing so, the series would not only have been more faithful to history but also represented more people who are not commonly seen on screen. 

   Another side of this debate is seen in the new “Little Mermaid” live-action remake by Disney, where African-American actress Halle Bailey plays the main character, Ariel. As a fictional character, technically anyone can play Ariel, as her ethnicity has no effect on the story. By having Bailey play Ariel and using an overall more diverse cast, it opens a lot of opportunities for people of color. 

   Stories like Ariel’s will inspire more people who are represented on the big screen. It is spectacular for any child to see and envision themselves as mermaids. 

   When done right, adaptations can be made into great stories, such as Disney’s “Descendants” or “The Sandman” by Netflix. Both these pieces of media not only contain diverse casting but also have great representation and well-made characters.

   Having more people of color on the big screen is absolutely a step forward. Studios have to remember how context changes from situation to situation and how to approach them with a delicate hand. In some cases, they must also keep accuracy in mind when creating educational content.

   Older shows appealed to a different demographic that is widely different from the majority today. Instead of trying to change old shows, studios can instead create new stories that can more easily connect with their audience. It also would not incite anger from fans of the original who wish for a completely faithful adaptation. 

   People of color have extremely unique experiences not commonly seen on film. Studios should be creating new characters to showcase and represent more people. 

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