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Samizdata quote of the day

Only good stories matter, ‘representation’ should not be an objective in and of itself or daft things happen. That is why a super diverse cast in The Expanse works superbly but black elves in a Tolkien story are as laughable as Kate Beckinsale playing Martin Luther King.

Perry de Havilland

21 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • exasperated


    Cannot agree more about The Expanse. It is the perfect example of correct diverse casting.

    When a character walks on screen it is impossible to tell whether they are good or bad, stupid or clever, virtuous or sinful simply because of their sex, gender, sexual pref, colour, religion or number of limbs.

    Woke Hollywood (and TV) usually follows the exact opposite rule. Hence the utter disaster of their programming.

  • I sneeze in threes

    If she wore a leather cat-suit I’m sure she could make a reasonable go if it.

  • Paul Marks

    But it is a clever tactic – as an excuse for failure.

    When people say that the new Amazon series is rubbish – they will reply “you hate black people – you RACIST!”

    So everyone involved in the show will benefit, will be rewarded – no matter how bad it is.

    This is one of the reasons that modern Corporatism does not work – apart from the Corporatists themselves, for whom it works very well.

    Of course the last Ruling Queen of Numenor was not black – but then there was no last Ruling Queen of Numenor, because her cousin usurped the throne (and her) on the death of her father the King.

    Nor was the character of Galadriel a young combat type – the lady was thousands of years old and great master oF lore and craft (taught by Melian the Maia), a Queen in her own right – even in the 2nd Age. Casting should reflect that – and it is difficult to think of many human beings (if any) who could pull off playing the great Elven Queen who longed for her Realm of her own, before the Sun and Moon even existed.

    I have a feeling that black elves, dwarves and “harfoots” will be the least of this show’s problems – but it will be the defence.

    Any critical examination of the show will be met by “you RACIST!”.

  • John

    It appears* that the newly created white guy character will turn out to be the main villain. Who’d have guessed?

    * Unless there is some seriously effective misdirection going on in which case I reluctantly doff my cap to Amazon.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    “If she wore a leather cat-suit I’m sure she could make a reasonable go if it.”

    Not sure if you meant Kate Beckinsale. Or perhaps Nicola Sturgeon?

  • Rudolph Hucker

    “Only good stories matter”

    If we’re looking for good stories on Amazon Prime. may I recommend “James May, our Man In Italy“? He’s cast aside the buffoonery of Top Gear and the boy’s done good. My father, a proud Scot, casting his nationalism aside, reckoned that Italy was the most beautiful country in Europe, and became fluent in Italian. Mind you, that was at the end of an intensive package tour (North Africa to Austria, 1943 – 45). And Italy’s got even better since then.

  • bobby b

    If a black actor can make me believe he’s an elf – if he can act, and can do the part well – I’m fine. They can cast the movie with all Inuits or PI’s for all I care – so long as I get an elf who is an elf.

    Problem is, so many cast members in these woke productions are being chosen not for their acting, but for their specific minority status. I watch such movies and hardly ever think “now there’s an elf!” More often I think “I wonder what else is on.”

  • Ferox

    Of course, while casting a minority as Julius Caesar or Guinevere or even Cleopatra is commonplace these days, casting a white person as MLK would be the end of the world. Cities would burn.

    It makes your point well to pretend that it would be equally likely (and equally annoying) either way, but realistically: what “black” fictional or historical character has been portrayed by a white actor in the last 30 years?

    My point is that the double standard is a key component of the phenomenon you describe. You should include a mention of it when discussing the problem.

  • Much depends on how it’s done. If you’ll permit a brief excursion into comics, when Nick Fury (who had been white since world war II) suddenly showed up black, I was annoyed beyond belief, especially since they shared the same eyepatch. This does not happen in the real world. Oh, they retconned it later – but that’s not how these things work.

    On the other hand, when Captain America passed the title on to a black man (Falcon) we knew it was going to happen. When Batman showed up with a girl Robin, it was foreshadowed and explained.

    Similarly, if some impresario came up with a white Othello, it’d work better set in Nubia. Not that it would save the cities from burning.

  • aaasss

    Make that 2 votes for the Cat Suit.

  • Paul Marks

    There is another twist – Corporations also push politicians because they are black (although there is a twist to the twist – see later).

    For example, Sky today is pushing “Black Leaders Awareness Day” and among the “black leaders” they are pushing is Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (Michelle Obama has never been elected to anything – but that does not stop her getting two programmes – yes two). Any criticism of these people will be met by the response “RACIST!”.

    And the twist to the twist? It does not apply to black conservatives – a Congressman who is a leftist, such as John Lewis, gets a programme – but someone like Senator Scott never would. And if a “black leader” is not a leftist – then “you ain’t black” as Joseph Biden would put it).

    The Corporations, including Amazon, are very clear about who they consider black and who “ain’t black”.

    Lenny Henry is black – because he is a leftist. But if Mr Henry became a conservative – he would no longer be black, and he would not be playing a “Harfoot” in the new show.

    It really is that brutal.

    And the Corporations really are that sick – especially in Hollywood.

    As Sky (owned by Disney) puts it – Congressman John Lewis’ struggle for “Gun Control”, “Health Care”, “Immigration”…..

    What if John Lewis had stood for the 2nd Amendment, deregulation of health care, and had opposed mass illegal immigration of people who depend on government services and benefits?

    Then he would NOT be getting a television show. John Lewis would be “you ain’t black”.

    Again – the Corporations, or rather the people who control them, really are that sick.

    They are the products of the education system – and are the rest of the people responsible for the cultural decay of the West.

  • Paul Marks

    “only good stories matter” is itself a racist statement, for it ignores the lived experience of disadvantaged groups – such as black people and the trans community (and intersectual oppression – for example someone may be black and trans).

    And “only good stories matter” implies that there is something called a “good story” by some objective aesthetic criteria – which is the sort of “Capitalist” thinking that modern Corporate Executives have been taught to despise (and are very proud of despising).

    Under the cultural aspect of Agenda 2030 there will be no more “good stories” – culture/entertainment will be about providing Progressive messages to the population. This will NOT be socialism – as the messages will be provided by Corporations such as Disney and Amazon – at a “fair rate of profit” (regardless of consumer choice – because consumer choice is racist). It is humiliating and degrading for disadvantaged groups, such as Corporate Executives, to have to beg for customers – customers who are, most likely, racist transphoobes.

    You will have what you are given – and you will be HAPPY about it.

    If you are not HAPPY, this is proof that you are a racist – and you will be punished.

    Anyone who disagrees with any of this is an agent-of-Putin – and the Security Services will soon be smashing down your front door and shoving a firearm in your face (remember “Gun Control” does not apply to them).

  • John

    It would be appropriate if on Sky’s “Black Leaders Awareness Day” they got behind Kemi Badenoch in the leadership contest.

    However you would be hard pressed to find a better example of someone who in todays clown world clearly “ain’t black”.

  • Paul Marks

    In my more paranoid moments (“that would be a lot of the time then Paul”) I think Mr Putin is also following a script.

    He is scripted as the “Bad Guy”, the FAKE “alternative” to the Collectivist tyranny of the “Rules Based International Liberal Order” – someone we can have four minute hate sessions about.

    He is not really an alternative at all. There was a Covid lockdown in Russia, and there is “universal health care” (has been since the 1920s – the NHS, contrary to the nonsense stories about it being based on Friendly Societies and so on, was based on the Soviet example), and “gun control” (the government and vicious criminal gangs, but I repeat myself – as the Russian government is a vicious criminal gang, have lots of firearms – but ordinary Ivan is not allowed one), and lots of abortion. I remember shows on RT about “being black in Russia” – how black people had escaped the horrible “racism” of the West to come and live in Russia (to be fair even the presenters of these shows found it incredibly hard to keep a straight face – the one nice thing about RT compared to the BBC was that it was obvious that the RT people did not believe their own propaganda, the BBC people actually do believe their own propaganda – and that is horrible).

    Eurasia is not really an alternative to Oceania – and East Asia (the People’s Republic of China) is not really an “alternative” either – although (as the biggest in population) it will end up eating Eurasia and Oceania.

    The WEF loves all of them – although Mr Putin has been removed from its website (and from the adoring speeches of Klaus Schwab “Vladimir was in our young leaders program” – yes Schwab goes back that far) – because he is the Bad Guy in the wrestling event now.

    “A fake wrestling event – with many thousands of very real killed and maimed civilians” – yes I know.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – the ideological family background of Kate Bakeinsale is correct (from the point of view of the Corporations) to play Martin Luther King, although the lady would have to personally push this Collectivist world view herself

    But you are not going to see Mercy Muroki (of GB News) playing the Queen of Numenor – as the “you ain’t black” doctrine would apply. Notice that the actress (sorry “actor”) they got to play the Queen of Numenor is not classically beautiful (which many black people, including Mercy Muroki, are) – that is not an accident, it is a deliberate decision. It is NOT a matter of “any black person” – it is a certain sort of black person that the Corporations want.

    Remember Joseph Biden is black (do not believe the evidence of your lying “capitalist” eyes) – and he got “81 million votes” – 81 million people in the United States strongly support “Trans Rights” for eight year old children, as Mr Biden explained in a televised “Town Hall” during the campaign.

    “We can present ANYONE and have them say ANYTHING – and still declare they got 81 million votes. And if you oppose that too much – we can send the FBI to smash down your door and shove an automatic rifle in your face, and then drag you to prison to be abused for months”.

  • TomJ

    The Nick Fury thing is due to Marvel’s Ultimate line, an alternate universe where all continuity was thrown away. Lots was different; some good (Peter Parker working on the Bugle’s website was a nice touch), some not so (Ultimates 3, Ultimatum…). When designing Ultimate Nick they wanted to emphasis the cool super spy aspect of the character, not the bloke who fought the Nazis aspect and decided to model him on the coolest man the could think of: Samuel L Jackson (with Jackson’s permission). The permission was wise as it led to SLJ’s casting in the MCU and the eventually the creation of Nick Fury Jr, OG Nick’s secret son, in the mainstream MU; not so much a retcon as a contrivance to have a character match the version people coming in from the films know..

    And, yes, it’s sad I know that.

  • NickM

    But it isn’t a Tolkien story… First off Amazon have vaguely hinted the series shall go on and on (like Bilbo’s road) until it doesn’t sell. So, it can’t have a specific end-point now can it?

    Secondly, it is set in the Second Age which is probably about the haziest part of the legendarium. This gives a lot of scope.

    I’m going to watch it because I have Amazon Prime but I don’t think I’m going to like it. It seems to be at first look riffing on Tokien to produce a “Game of Thrones” rip-off.

  • Paul Marks

    NickM – not as much scope as you might think. There is quite a lot of information about the 2nd Age – and Amazon have wiped their backside with it (that is the real reason they got rid of Tom Shippey).

    I agree with you that what they are producing has nothing to do with Tolkien – but they have taken his name, and they are pushing the show on the anniversary of his DEATH (that is no accident – they HATE Tolkien).

    Remember the true nature of the “Woke” – like Morgoth and Sauron they can not produce new beautiful things of their own, they can only twist and ruin what others have created.

    That is what Amazon is doing here.

  • Fraser Orr

    I certainly agree that good stories and good acting are what matter. However, to play devil’s advocate, may I point out that there are a billion stories and only a small fraction of them get made into movies and TV shows. Is it legitimate to pick stories that contain characters that allow the whole ouvre of the movie or TV studio to be more representative? Especially so since they serve a diverse audience? Is it fair, for example, that for a long time women who starred in movies were paid less than men, often less than the men who were more minor characters? Especially so since half the audience is of the female persuasion? Or that until recently there were almost no gay people represented in the movies?

    Were I a black person I’d feel pretty patronized if a black man was cast to play Lincoln, and legitimately scandalized were a white person cast to play MLK. The latter especially because his blackness was an essential part of what MLK represented.

    It just seems like good market sense to do cast diversely, appropriately, and select stories that fit that shape. And the fact that they don’t or didn’t tells me that the movie and TV business is a screwed up place that doesn’t respond well to market incentives. FWIW, I think the reason for this is that for a long time the business was a big cartel enforced with the help of the government. The fact that there are SO many sources of media now, and that these sources are more responsive to markets seems to me to be a positive step forward, and a victory for free markets.

  • NickM

    OK, Paul I’ll bow to that in that I haven’t read as much of the HoME books as I might of but… JRRT’s Ages do have definitive starts and ends marked by specific events and that really doesn’t fit with a TV series which could go on for… well, as long as the market will wear it. Essentially the second age ends definitively shortly after the downfall of Numenor with the victory of the last alliance over Sauron.

  • Paul Marks

    Fraser Orr.

    I see little evidence that the entertainment corporations are responsive to customers – on the contrary they seethe with hatred for “toxic fandom”, and revel in the fact that what they produce will make ordinary people unhappy (“I will destroy your childhood dreams”, “your tears are nectar to me”).

    As for the free market – they intend to abolish what is left of it. The cultural aspect of Agenda 2030 is to give people what they should like, not what they think-they-like.

    It goes back to the philosophy of Rosseau – the “General Will” is not the opinions of ordinary people (that is the despised “Will of All”) – the “General Will” is what the “Lawgiver” says it is.

    Indeed it goes all the way back to Plato – ordinary people should not decide what plays and stories are good, they should be TOLD what to like.

    And if they disagree?

    Plato suggests that they be whipped.

    No doubt Amazon would agree – “whip the RACISTS”.