Big Picture: "Skin Deeper"

This week’s show is about the “Cloud Atlas” casting controversy.

If you’re of age and in the U.S., please go vote today.

27 thoughts on “Big Picture: "Skin Deeper"

  1. Bedinsis says:

    Given that you've shown a great love for Star Wars in the past, I assumed this week's episode would be about Disney's acquisition of Lucas Film. Nevertheless, I liked what I saw. This thought was a subject worthy of discussion.


  2. The Mason says:

    @Anonymous 3:22

    Because that might be a bit crass, even for our hilariously cynical host :P.

    But yes, as someone who trolls and posts in the comments here at the Blog, it is PAINFULLY obvious Bob is doing this to prove how correct he is over the Phil-Troll.

    A bit petty and unnecessary? Maybe. But also informative and hilarious.


  3. Conor says:

    Really solid analysis, and I completely agree. The changes in race for each character serve a solid purpose, and it's not racist the way I see it. It's kind of essential for this kind of story.

    Also, not to nitpick, but it just bothered me. The “Bae” Doona Bae is pronounced like “bay”, not “bye”. Korean phonetics are a lot different from Japanese.


  4. Pyrian says:

    Was there really some sort of general controversy, or was it just one guy in your comments section who posts a lot? It's not like he'll ever come around.


  5. Anonymous says:

    James, the other day, I was talking with a relative about politics. He asked me what I knew about Gary Johnson and I said this:

    “All I know about Gary Johnson is that there's this guy on a website I frequent that talks about him sometimes. Most of his posts are screaming conspiracy crackpot verbal assaults such as 'justify Obama's kill list!' and other unverifiable, logically-unsound shit like that. Rarely, he voices his support of Gary Johnson, with most of his platform revolving around an undeveloped, unconvincing argument of 'Obama is just as bad as Romney!' and other things that aren't so much positive endorsements of Johnson as just a positive endorsement for somebody besides either major candidate. This is my only exposure to the Gary Johnson presidential campaign and I'm sure if this guy was the slightest bit important, Gary would personally go on record saying he has no affiliation with this person.”

    Of course, I bet James will just think 'people are talking about me in real life!' and feel proud of himself.


  6. Cyrus says:

    Not to mention that after two wars and with the military-industrial complex still in full swing, “teh kill list!!!1” is an enormous step towards a more peaceful US foreign policy. It's a funny old world…

    Anyway, thank you Bob, for (once again) discussing this fascinating movie. I somehow missed the Escape to the Movies episode and had already written off the Wachowskis as “those guys who really shouldn't have done V for Vendetta”, but now I just might check it out.


  7. Sjostedt says:

    Not really. The biggest race-controversy I have experienced right now is when Idris Elba expressed his interest in playing Bond (a fictitious interchangeable character with truly only a few defining traits none of which are his skin). Even Ian Fleming changed the character (giving him a Scottish-Swiss after being impressed by Sean Connory who he at first glans disapproved of), and the EON-films have never truly been true to the source material (always changing in order to connect and stay relevant to the present or even changing by input by individual new actors).

    Anyway… Several forums I attend, some of which I left as a result, exploded in racism and hate. Some even claimed that it was all a PC/Multiculturalism-stunt, even though Elba assured that he personally expressed interest (he wasn't contacted by them) and that he would hate to be either hired and/or spoken of as “The Black Bond”.


  8. Brick says:

    Good stuff, and a little funny that that ass who kept spamming your blog is pretty obviously the one that this video was made in response to.


  9. The Almighty Narf says:

    @ Bob

    I both agree and disagree.

    It's not that I don't think context is important, but that I don't think context can rationalize something that would otherwise be wrong. It almost seems like you're trying to justify your double standard with another double standard.

    What I do think is that there is nothing inherently wrong with “race bending” in and of itself, unless it's being used in a specifically racist or racially insensitive way. Devoid of context it's neutral, and it's only with context that it can be made negative.


  10. Roderick says:

    I' don't insist that you hate the movie. I might prefer you not support it with your money, but I'm not even insisting that. I simply ask that film goers and critics be aware of and acknowledge the real world context of institutionalized racism that permeates the bones of Hollywood's studio system. To take it into account and consider it. Context counts for a lot, but there's more to a film's context than just its internal narrative and cinematic choices. The society and system which produced it is also part of its context. The one cannot wipe out the other. The good does not wash away the bad, nor the bad the good. If you can acknowledge the cinematic talent and innovation behind “Triumph of the Will” while still being aware of and denouncing its horrific social context, then you can like Cloud Atlas as a film and still acknowledge that casting colored actors in white roles has an entirely different context than casting white actors in colored roles, and that establishing technology for and furthering a precedent of white actors being cast in non-white roles is handing a racist Hollywood studio system more tools and excuses to marginalize colored actors and minimize genuine colored representation in media.


  11. Anonymous says:

    I think the more you have to defend against racism, the more they should have thought of it in the first place. The fact that they didn't means that they think entertainment is more important than viable careers for non-white actors, and the fact that you are defending it means you are willing to accept it, so long as it is in something you enjoy. It makes your racism jibes seems disingenuous. Might wanna get that checked out after you check your white male privilege.

    You can't just cry “context” as a shield for racism in things you enjoy. Either the practice is racist or it isn't. Allowing middle ground means to allow those who would whitewash history to use the same in their defense and the issue becomes whether or not you agree with the “context” argument vs. the “racism” argument. That's not the argument you want. You want the “racism” argument.


  12. Roderick says:

    Oh the film certainly considered racism. But it fell into the trap that Bob here has fallen in after them – of considering only their own one discrete internal production, focusing on the context of the fictional world to the exclusion of the context of the real world that houses it. The internal context of the film's narrative & cinematic choices matter, but they don't trump the external, real world context of studio system and wider society in which the film was made.


  13. Anonymous says:

    First time post here, but I figured now as as good a time as any. I have seen this type of thing brought up time and again. I am 100% against double standards. If we are ok with changing the race of 1 character is 1 movie then we are ok with changing it in others period end of story, but if we are not ok with it then we are not ok with it. Me personally I prefer to let the people making the movies decide who they feel fits the role best and go with that. If it sucks that is their problem and they will know it in their wallets. I'm not going to agonize over this white guy played this role *cry* or this black guy played this role *cry*.

    The bottom line is you can try and rationalize each point of view, but at the end of the day its all opinion.

    Oh and if X actor wasn't playing X role then he wouldn't be working either.

    But then again I feel the same way about selective hiring for specific requirements and it doesn't even affect me.


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