Hand-Me-Down Representation

An illustration in why I refer to sex/race re-casting as "hand-me-down representation."


People: We need more diversity! More representation!

Child: I’m cold, I need a coat.

Studio: We hear you. Tell you what, let’s take these roles which were originally written for white males and cast women and/or minorities! That way, we know it will succeed, because everyone loved it when white men played them!

Clueless mother: Tell you what, your older brother hasn’t worn this coat in a while, why don’t you wear this?

Fans of the original: why do you have to do this? Why can’t you just make something original that was designed for that group? We don’t want our classic series altered to fit your agenda.

Child: but mom, I’m a girl. That coat won’t fit me! It’ll look bad! Besides, it’s old and worn out already!

Studio: anyone who doesn’t like this is just sexist/racist. We’re not going to listen to people like that.

Clueless mother: now now, anyone who doesn’t like your coat isn’t really your friend. Now run along to school.

In theaters:

At school:

Fans: that was predictably terrible.

Child: mom, everyone hated my coat.

Studio: it only did bad because of prejudice. People just aren’t ready to embrace progressive change. They’re not ready to embrace women and minorities in these roles. It’s sad, really.

Clueless mother: well you don’t need them. They just don’t understand how special you are.

Billy

Fans: It still featured an almost exclusively minority cast, including the titular character, and it had women in very prominent rolls, portrayed as brilliant scientists and butt-kicking action heroes, and it did GREAT, because those rolls were made from the ground-up for minorities and women.

Child: Billy got a coat that was actually MADE for him, and everyone loved it.

Studio: Black Panther was always going to be a success. It’s part of The MCU, and it had a male titular character; so all those horrible racist fans gave it a pass.

Clueless Mother: Billy is part of a very prestigious family. He has everything handed to him.

Cindy

Fans: The DCEU was in the toilet when Wonder Woman came out. Man of Steel? Batman Vs. Superman? Suicide Squad? Those movies did horribly! Everyone hated that franchise! Yet Wonder Woman has a 93% on rotten tomatoes and pulled in $414 million at the box office! It was incredible! Don't take it as a coincidence that once again, this was a role that was created from the ground up for a woman!

Child: everyone loved Cindy’s new coat, and they all HATE her family! It’s just that she actually had a GIRL’s coat instead of a hand-me-down from her big brother!

Studio: at this time we’re choosing not to respond to the sexist vitriol being tossed about by trolls. We hope that some day people will be more embracing.

Clueless mother: GO TO YOUR ROOM!


          Wanting more diversity, or better representation is fine. But if we want more rolls for women and minorities, the way to do it is to create rolls for women and minorities, or to adapt existing rolls that were created for women and minorities. The benefits are clear. You avoid the risk of angering fans who don't want their classic franchises meddled with, and you add a new hit IP to put in your portfolio along side the classic. And recent history has shown again and again, IP's created for minorities and females work, hand-me down diversity bombs.

          Just say no to hand-me-down diversity.

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