Joe Wright’s Pan has cast its Tiger Lily and the director chose The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo actress Rooney Mara to play the role. Within one day, the Internet was awash with people complaining that Wright was “whitewashing” the role, with people aghast that Hollywood would cast a white actress to play a role that was originally a Native American girl.
Of course, he also cast a British born Kiera Knightley to portray a Russian wife in Anna Karenina. That is different though, because no one cares about Russians.
The big problem here is that the same people who complain about the casting of Mara to play a character who was originally a Native American are also claiming it is ok to cast an African American as a character who was originally white in The Fantastic Four. If you are against one, you have to be against both, otherwise you are practicing selective racism.
The fact is this. Either you say that the original portrayals of the characters are unimportant and the films should make the changes they need to make to create the director’s vision, or you feel that the directors should remain loyal to the source material. You can’t pick and choose different movies and change your opinions based on the actor’s skin color.
I, for one, am against both castings, because both make changes to the characters (it means Johnny and Sue’s relationship will have to change in The Fantastic Four and it means that Tiger Lily’s relationship with her family has to change as well – if someone says Johnny can just be adopted then so can Tiger Lily).
Of course, the original appearance of Tiger Lily in Peter Pan was highly controversial and considered racist because of how she and her people were portrayed as stereotypical Indians. Maybe it would be better not to have Tiger Lily in Pan at all so no one is offended – but then again, everything offends everyone these days.