I was avoiding my midterm the other day, absently reading over the boyfriend's shoulder as he avoided his final, when we came across the following headline: Race row erupts over 'Hobbit' casting. I made him back up and let me re-read the article, and there truly was a row, or fight as we say here in the Colonies, over the race of hobbits. Apparently, a (former, cuz that bitch was sacked) casting director turned a Pakistani-heritage actor away at the door, telling her that she was too dark-skinned to be a Hobbit extra.
Yes, you read that right. Too dark-skinned. To play a hobbit. Which, yes I know, is a creature that does not exist.
Did J.R.R. Tolkien wax poetic about the creamy complexion every hobbit has in common? Even if he did (he didn't), is that really integral to the story that Peter Jackson is trying to tell? Somehow I highly doubt it. Somehow I think Peter Jackson is more concerned with slow motion 360-degree pans than with creating a sea of miniature, furry Aryans.
This is just another situation in a long, long list of situations in which a person associated "neutral" or "regular" or "without a message" with "white." I could have said white person, but I think the social brainwashing goes deeper and has a farther reach even than that. Even my generation, twenty-somethings born in the 1980s, grew up coloring with light tan crayons called "flesh." When I type the word nude right now, you think of a color, and it is not dark.
The film industry is notorious for perpetuating this stereotype. Granted, we do not live in a color-blind world, and for some reality-based films to reflect anything otherwise could be a great disservice to the viewing public, and the characters whose stories do revolve around race. But that is not always, or even often, the case. And let's be honest; The Hobbit is not going to be a reality-based film. The Hobbit does not even take place on Earth as we know it. So why does it matter what color skin these creatures have? It's all in how this casting director, and many, many other people, see the world. Hobbits are white. Why? Because they are. Because they always have been. They're just white; white is what they look like.
The casting director said it herself, in her own so-called defense, "We are looking for light-skinned people. I'm not trying to be- whatever. It's just the brief. You've got to look like a hobbit."
I'm not trying to be... whatever. Just because you don't say it loud doesn't mean you aren't. Racist.
Sent a shiver up your spine, didn't it? That word; scary word. True word. Be aware of the world around you, lady, how small it is or isn't, and why that might be. That's the first step. The second step is don't put your foot in your mouth like a doofus. The third step is don't get fired from Peter Jackson's The Hobbit because you are that unaware of your own ignorance.
And so we witness the end.
3 years ago