Cartoon: THEY MURDERED MY CHILDHOOD!


This cartoon was drawn by the wonderful cartoonist Jenn Manley Lee. (The link goes to Jenn’s long-running science fiction slice-of-life comic, “Dicebox,” which I highly recommend).

Jenn writes:

I know there were a variety of reasons Barry asked me to illustrate this cartoon, from the chance to create a couple of thematic costume designs to giving a smack up the head to those idiots howling about a ruined childhood because something was created not specifically for them. (By the way, in the absence of time machines, the only way to ruin a person’s childhood is if they are still going through it.)

It was also fun to come up with a classic skimpy, bondage adjacent costume for the original heroine design —complete with high heels— while being mindful of aspects that could be reinterpreted into an updated and more practical design. I chose a “G” logo mark in order to unite them more clearly. That “G” could stand for Glory, Gladiator, Girl or, heck, even Gynephilic; I’m not choosy.

I also took pleasure in ignoring Barry’s “stage directions” in order to have the two versions grab coffee (or tea, tisane, hot cocoa, etc.) in order to discuss things further. Like civilized folk do.


Jenn is one of my oldest friends; she and I met in cartooning circles back in the 1980s, and we traded self-xeroxed minicomics. I think that many artists, when young, learn a lot more craft through competing and comparing and trading tips and shop talk with their young artist peers, and Jenn and I definitely did that for each other.

Jenn has a huge toolbox of cartooning techniques, and I think that shows even in this simple four-panel cartoon – her grasp of colors especially is far beyond my own. (Jenn has done coloring work for most major US comics publishers.)

Although Jenn and I have known each other forever, we’ve almost never collaborated. I asked her to draw this one because I thought she’d be great for the challenge of designing both the  sexified original and the 2020s “reboot” of a made-up character. In my script, I suggested a superhero themed character, but Jenn suggested a Roman themed character instead (with a bit of a “She-Ra” influence – Jenn and I both loved the recent-ish, controversial She-Ra redesign), and the results look great.


Jenn’s work has tended more towards action/genre comics, while my work has been more cartoony. I thought Jenn’s rough sketch for panel four didn’t have enough exaggeration in the poses, so with her permission I did a few sketches (based on the poses she’d already chosen) to suggest slightly bigger poses and bendier spines.

Jenn added a lot to the script – not by changing the words, but with what she did with staging and setting. (My script originally called for grotesque babies with adult heads for panel four, but Jenn wanted to change that and I think she was right). And lots of excellent details – the tapping on the window in panel three, the eye-rolling clerk in panel four – were Jenn’s.

Jenn named the comic book store “HEY KIDS! comics,” which I loved but there was just no way to avoid it being covered up by word balloons. But someone should get to see it! So, here you go:


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels.

The first three panels feature the same two women in each panel. Or maybe a woman and a teenager. They’re both dressed in stylized Roman soldier outfits. The older woman, on the left, is dressed in what the artist called a “bondage adjacent costume,” with straps and high heels and a skimpy one-piece made of brown leather. She’s wearing pteruges – you know, straps hanging down from her waist to sort of form a skirt.  She also has an amazing mane of red hair cleverly arranged to resemble a Roman Galea helmet.

The younger woman, on the right, is wearing a brown leather vest over a dark green bodysuit, flat boots, and a Roman Galea helmet. She has protective armor on her forearms and calves.

Both of them wear red capes and carry round shields and swords. The older woman’s shield features a stylized letter “G” in yellow on a red background; the same symbol, in the same colors, is on the younger woman’s belt. I’ll call the two characters “Original G” and “New G.”

PANEL 1

The two women are back-to-back and in a battle, fending off swords left and right. They’re in a building with pillars. In the background, we can see ancient buildings, an active volcano, and what I think is a dragon flying.

Despite all this, the two women are calmly and cheerfully chatting with each other. (I love that, and that was all Jenn.)

ORIGINAL G: Who are you? You look familiar…

NEW G: I’m you! A redesigned version of you, anyway.

PANEL 2

The two women are now at a little table in front of the display window of a modern comic book store. They’re both carrying coffee. Original G is sitting down, while New G is already seated, legs crossed at the ankles, looking relaxed.

ORIGINAL G: So does this mean I don’t exist anymore?

NEW G: Nope – there are thousands of toys and comics and animations with you that no one can take away! But now my version of you exists, too!

PANEL 3

Original G leans towards the display window, tapping on it like people tap on goldfish bowls. On the other side of the window, we can see action figures of both versions of G, displayed on pillars.

ORIGINAL G: I get it. This way, we can entertain different audiences, right?

NEW G: Exactly! Who could complain?

PANEL 4

We’re now looking at the cashier counter in a comic book store. A tired-looking cashier leans on one elbow, rolling her eyes. In front of the counter, two adult men are screaming in horror. One man, in a green shirt, is holding out a comic book with the “G” symbol on the front cover, wide eyes staring at it. The other man is actually sitting on the floor, hands tearing at his hair, legs kicking like an unhappy toddler, as he stares at an action figure of New G.

GREEN SHIRT: THEY MURDERED MY CHILDHOOD!

HAIR PULLER: THIS IS THE WORST ATROCITY OF ALL TIME!


They Murdered My Childhood! | Patreon

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23 Responses to Cartoon: THEY MURDERED MY CHILDHOOD!

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    I’ll have to put dicebox on my list of comics to try reading. At least until the reboot comes out:D

  2. 2
    Jacqueline Squid Onassis says:

    Now that you’ve pointed out the thing I’d never have seen otherwise…

    Ugh! I loathe the She-Ra redesign, although it has not ruined my She-Ra watching years (which were definitely not childhood years). I hate the style of the new design. They could have made her look sexier than Eris and I’d still hate it because I just don’t like that drawing style.

    Thinking cartoons are sexy is a little outside of my wheelhouse, though, so I have no opinion on the sex appeal of 80’s She-Ra vs current She-Ra. I will say I’m glad the critics find new She-Ra less sexy because new She-Ra also looks under the age of consent to my eye. Bravo for cartoon sex creeps not also outing themselves as pedophiles in this case! Three cheers, guys!

    I just don’t understand why people keep making art in styles I just don’t like. Will nobody think of the me????!!!!!

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    Neither the old nor the new She-Ra is drawn in my favorite style, but I do like the reboot’s drawing style better – it just seems more energetic and graceful to me, and I just like the character designs better. (Adora was meant to be 17 or 18 at the start of the new series, according to the creators.)

    To be fair, the original show’s character designs were seriously hampered by the need to give every female character the exact same body (to make manufacturing action figures cheaper). The cartoonists could have done a lot better if they weren’t fettered like that, I suspect.

  4. 4
    bcb says:

    >To be fair, the original show’s character designs were seriously hampered by the need to give every female character the exact same body (to make manufacturing action figures cheaper).

    Xanthippe Hutcheon covered this nicely:
    https://comicsbyxan.com/comic/echo-fighters/

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    That’s funny, thanks for linking it!

  6. 6
    Corso says:

    I find the topic and the psychology and marketing around it kind of interesting. It’s a strange thing, to realize that something isn’t made for you, or that it’s not for you anymore, and depending on the product and intentions of the creators, your mileage definitely varies.

    For example: We don’t go through these throes with Sesame Street, because even though Sesame Street has changed over the last 30 years, there was a point in everyone’s development where they outgrew Sesame Street, and they never looked back.

    I think that these 80’s cartoon reboots carry a certain amount of nostalgia and expectation because the series ended, sometimes abruptly, without that natural disconnect. I certainly have some opinions about the live-action remake seasons they did of Reboot. There’s a generational gap and intended audience problem there.

    And then there were franchises that purposefully grew up with their audience, the best example is Harry Potter. I was born in 1985 and Harry was always a couple of years either older or younger than me, depending on whether I was reading or watching. The movies went from PG to PG-13 exactly when Harry would have turned 14.

    Regardless, I understand the disappointment some people might feel in knowing that something they liked is never coming back in the form they liked it, but there’s an emotional maturity question in play when you see some of the outsized reactions.

    But I think there’s an element of… I don’t know. Bait, maybe? It feels like marketers are trying to tap into outrage to purposefully build buzz about products, and this feels related, but different. I’m thinking of how the cast and crew of Ghostbusters seemed really engaged with the worst aspects of the internet (I actually thought the movie was OK) or how the marketing for Cuties really made the film look like it was designed for pedophiles (Pedophiles absolutely watch it on repeat, but the trailers didn’t really reflect the film).

    Really, there’s nothing inherent to the He Man franchise that’s unique or really compelling: You’ve got a magical girl trope surrounded by a superhero gimmick squad, and hilarity ensues, sometimes. If the studio wasn’t banking on either nostalgia or outrage, it seems like they could have reimagined the franchise with character names that sound less tinny to a young audience. But not only did they remake He Man or She Ra, they did both, twice.

    That’s not to say that baiting outrage is effective, just that it’s happening. Despite the obvious push to the market, the remakes don’t seem to have made a cultural splash much outside the release date. Can anyone think of the last time they saw a meme using the 2020’s era characters? Because I still see a whole lot of old school Skeletor.

  7. 7
    Corso says:

    That’s not to say that baiting outrage is effective, just that it’s happening.

    I feel psychic:

    https://twitter.com/HollywoodHandle/status/1754329415075402134

    Disney is considering replacing Johnny Depp on Pirates with Ayo Edebiri, ostensibly because they want a younger cast of pirates.

    This feel like Disney either doesn’t understand what made the original movies good (Neither Depp nor Rush were young in the original, and there was some serious star power in the franchise), or don’t really care and are just hoping to cash in one last time and hope that lightning in a bottle captures a new audience.

    The bait come in with the response. Some people really like Depp, and feel like he was given a raw deal, those people are expressing their opinions with various rates of maturity, and I won’t defend all of them, but some of the response really is as simple as that. In response, progressives on Twitter seem to be of the opinion that the problem is that these fans just don’t like black people.

    I think it’s the other way around. I think those fans would probably have been disappointed regardless who they replaced Depp with, but the studio purposefully cast a black woman so that defenders could say something like this. If feels intentional. It feels like bait.

    And again… I’m not saying that the bait is going to be successful, far from it. Part of the reason that the original movie did so well was the sheer star power and advertising invested in it, another was that it was a relatively fresh idea, and another was that it wasn’t really controversial. It feels like this movie is being set up to fail, and I can pre-emptively hear the bitching of people complaining that people are too racist to pay as much attention to the franchise just because there’s a black lead.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Another reason the original Pirates did well is that it was good. I’m not saying it was the best movie of 2003, but within its genre it was well-done and imaginative and fun.

    Star power doesn’t explain a lot of why any particular movie does well. William Goldman wrote that the most valuable thing a famous star provides is the near-guarantee that the movie will open. It might still flop (the list of flops with major stars in them is pretty long), but it’ll probably get a chance to be seen.

    Ayo Edebiri is an excellent actor, but she’s not famous the way Depp was in 2003. But if they do make it, it’ll probably get to be in theaters because the franchise is famous, and that’s similar to having a big name star. But it probably won’t be very good, because most movies aren’t very good. It almost certainly won’t be as big a hit as the first Pirates, because very few movies are.

    Goldman said that making a great movie is like having lightning strike. There are so many people who have to have everything they do come together right – producer, director, screenwriter(s), actors, cinematographers, editor, etc… And if just one of them happens to not be able to find their creative sweet spot while the film is being made, that could be enough to keep the film from being great.

    Ghostbusters 2 had the same creative team and cast as Ghostbusters 1. So why is it so tepid compared to the first one? There are a lot of reasons things didn’t come together right, but part of it is just that lightning failed to strike a second time.

    So yeah, knowing absolutely nothing about it, I wouldn’t expect any new Pirates movie to be good. (The last couple starring Depp were pretty bad, by most accounts).

    But who knows? Sometimes sequels or reboots can be really good. Maybe everything will come together really well and they’ll wind up making something really fun. I don’t think it makes sense to be mad at them for making the attempt (not that you are, but some people will be).

    I can pre-emptively hear the bitching of people complaining that people are too racist to pay as much attention to the franchise just because there’s a black lead.

    That’s funny. I can pre-emptively hear people gloating “it went woke and went broke.”

    Both of these opinions are wrong, I think. It’s objectively the case that movies can be hits with Black leads, including not-well-known Black leads; it’s also obvious that some so-called “woke” films make a lot of money (and others don’t). It’s as if whether a movie is “woke” is, at most, only one of dozens of factors that go into a movie being successful or not.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    That’s not to say that baiting outrage is effective, just that it’s happening.

    I feel psychic:

    Since all it takes for you to believe yourself proven right about this is for a black actor – or, in fact, any actor who isn’t a white cis man – to be cast in a new version of an existing franchise, I don’t think you should be patting yourself on the back, because that would happen with some franchise somewhere is pretty predictable. Basically, you’re assuming bad motives. And now that a new movie is being teased… you’re continuing to assume bad motives. That’s not impressive.

    I see very little evidence that casting controversy helps sell movie tickets – or, contrarywise, that it makes it hard to sell movie tickets. Are movies with casting controversies really more likely to do well? The Ghostbusters female-cast reboot had maybe the biggest casting controversy with the greatest participation from the actors and directors, but its box office was meh.

    You said, I realize, that trying to create casting controversies might not be effective for creating sales. But if it’s not, why would studios be deliberately seeking out controversies like that?

    There are certain forums on the web where lots of people are convinced that casting choices they don’t like are a conspiracy, and that’s essentially what you’re arguing here.

  10. 10
    Dianne says:

    Non-sequitorish probably unpopular opinion: I think the Ghostbusters reboot was a better movie and funnier than the first one, although I thought it had a lot of missed opportunities. The original was funnier to watch because it was unexpected. The second movie in the series and the remake suffered from having been in some sense spoilered by the first movie. But rewatching the first GB is kind of “wince, wince, did not age well, meh.” Rewatching the second left me giggling and mildly frustrated at the bits that were not properly developed. (I really wanted the “fake haunted that turns out to be really haunted” house in the first scene to come back into the plot somewhere, for example. OTOH, “He’s going to be about the third scariest thing on that train” is, IMO, the funniest line in any of the GB movies.)

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    It’s sort of hard for me to judge which is better. I saw the first GB as a teenage boy, and – at the time – I thought it was great. I’m not going to rewatch it, because I’m fairly sure it’ll have aged poorly and I’d rather keep the memories of liking it. The Ghostbusters reboot, I thought, was funny and likable, but it wasn’t really a standout for me.

    So do I make the comparison based on me-now or me-then’s reaction?

  12. 12
    Corso says:

    Ayo Edebiri is an excellent actor

    I might have to take your word for it. What role of hers led you to that?

    That’s funny. I can pre-emptively hear people gloating “it went woke and went broke.”

    You aren’t wrong. We can be psychic together!

    Since all it takes for you to believe yourself proven right about this is for a black actor – or, in fact, any actor who isn’t a white cis man – to be cast in a new version of an existing franchise,

    I think this misses the point, but my point is so common that you might as well be right. There are times where it makes a whole lot of sense to do a racial recasting: Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury is a great example. It’s not a rule that merely casting a black person to reprise a role previously held by a white person is per se bad. But it feels like a lot of the direction in these recasting efforts, not all, but I’d argue most, think that the recasting is in and of itself the draw. That they don’t need to worry about what makes a movie good so long as they cast a diverse crew. They’ve checked the boxes, and then they phone it in.

    Basically, you’re assuming bad motives.

    Yeah. Although, I don’t know that I’m always assuming it… Sometimes they say it. Ghostbusters (2016) was kind of an obvious example of that. A lot of the material we’re talking about are Disney products, and we’ve seen leaks over time where they say this relatively full throatedly.

    You said, I realize, that trying to create casting controversies might not be effective for creating sales. But if it’s not, why would studios be deliberately seeking out controversies like that?

    It might be that in the wake of Covid, there’s industry wide confusion as to what drives people to theatres. It might be that there are still adherents to the idea that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It could be that there’s so much ideological capture that they don’t care that it’s hurting the bottom line. But I honestly don’t know why they’re doing it when it doesn’t seem to be effective.

    But it is fairly obvious that they’re doing it.

    There are certain forums on the web where lots of people are convinced that casting choices they don’t like are a conspiracy, and that’s essentially what you’re arguing here.

    I mean. Sure. I don’t know what the text of the claims are, but I might agree with some of them. Are you saying the current trend of race and gender swaps in coincidental?

    I mean… Think of the live action little mermaid. Every single one of Ariel’s sisters was a different race or culture. What on Earth does that say about King Triton’s harem? Why do this?

  13. 13
    Ampersand says:

    What role of hers led you to that?

    She’s one of the stars of The Bear. i had to quit watching it, because it was just too mean and watching it made me feel bad. But all the actors were great. She’s won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing that character, so I can’t be the only one who thinks she’s good. :-p

    She also did a good job with April’s voice in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

    (Interestingly, she’s also a writer, and has written at least one episode of a show I like, What We Do In The Shadows.)

    There are times where it makes a whole lot of sense to do a racial recasting: Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury is a great example.

    Not an important point, but does it count as the film doing “racial recasting” when they’re following the lead of what the comics did years earlier?

    Also, the rumor about Ayo Edebiri and Pirates isn’t that she’ll be playing Captain Jack, so that’s not a “racial recasting”; the rumor is that she’d be playing a new character in the series. So, if Pirates is a representative example, it sounds like it’s literally impossible that Ayo Edebiri could be cast as a lead of any existing franchise without you thinking it was done for the controversy.

    But it feels like a lot of the direction in these recasting efforts, not all, but I’d argue most, think that the recasting is in and of itself the draw. That they don’t need to worry about what makes a movie good so long as they cast a diverse crew. They’ve checked the boxes, and then they phone it in.

    I think most people making movies in any significant capacity care about what they’re doing a lot, which is what drives them to seek out work in an incredibly competitive industry. They want to make a good movie. And most of them aren’t being paid that well. The problem is – as I said before – making a good movie is actually very difficult, and even talented people working hard can’t always do it.

    Anti-woke comic book fans tend to make the same argument you’re making (but about comics) – obviously the woke people making comics nowadays don’t give a shit about comics and are just trying to make money. (Aside: It’s fine to want to be paid). In this case, I can say, with much more confidence: Those fans are completely wrong.

    And they’re small-minded. Just because they don’t like, say, Erica Henderson’s art on Squirrel Girl doesn’t mean that Henderson was phoning it in (she wasn’t). And it doesn’t mean that the many fans who love her art are just pretending.

    It’s like they can’t comprehend that anyone has tastes that don’t correspond with their own.

    Sometimes they say it. Ghostbusters (2016) was kind of an obvious example of that. A lot of the material we’re talking about are Disney products, and we’ve seen leaks over time where they say this relatively full throatedly.

    Links, please. Where did anyone on the Ghostbusters (2016) movie say they didn’t bother trying to make it any good because they didn’t need anything other than a diverse cast? What Disney creators, specifically, said that?

    Are you saying the current trend of race and gender swaps in coincidental?

    Nope. Obviously there are creators who think it’s a good idea to be diverse when they can; and they’re now living in a period where the studios are willing to go along. But you’re assuming a lot more than that. You’re assuming that these creators think that they don’t have to do anything else, and that they don’t care if what they create is good or not. And that’s bullshit.

    I mean… Think of the live action little mermaid. Every single one of Ariel’s sisters was a different race or culture. What on Earth does that say about King Triton’s harem? Why do this?

    Actually, I’m thinking of all the people who said the six-time Grammy award nominee actress with a big fan base who can actually pass for a teenager was only cast for her race. Completely absurd.

    But also, I’m a theater fan. There are shows where the race of the actors really matter. But there are lots of shows where it doesn’t, and in theater there’s nothing unusual about race-blind casting. It’s actually not at all difficult to just accept it and move on. (I’m already accepting that French characters sing all the time, in English, and if I can accept that, then accepting a Asian Epinine is a snap.)

    But to answer your question – Why do this?

    Because they, and some of their audience, enjoy seeing diverse casts. And in this case, it makes zero story difference what races Ariel’s siblings are, other than all of them being mermaids. We’re talking about a musical with a major plot element being the fish-people with magical powers who somehow reproduce without any of them seeming to have the equipment. They thought – I suspect correctly – that their intended audience, who can accept all that, won’t be suddenly put off by Ariel having a multiracial family.

  14. 14
    Corso says:

    Not an important point, but does it count as the film doing “racial recasting” when they’re following the lead of what the comics did years earlier?

    I think so. I think with movies, it’s more noticeable because you have an image of what the person used to look like, and that scales similarly with comics, but it even goes down into written word. Think of Morgan Freeman as Red in the Shawshank Redemption. Red’s name in the books was a reference to his hair, and him being Irish was a very minor point. I could never picture anyone in the role other than Freeman because his execution was so good. On the opposite spectrum, Idra Elbis as Roland in the adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower. The delineation, in my mind, between what makes a good recasting and a tokenizing one starts with whether the recast seems to be happening for an enunciable reason other than diversity. This does put a higher bar to entry into recast roles, but maybe that’s for the best. Look at the recent Disney franchises where minorities were just given their own stories: Black Panther, Moana, Rhaya… These were good, successful, relatively uncontroversial franchises. It was representation done right. Can you think of a recent example of recasting that was successful?

    Also, the rumor about Ayo Edebiri and Pirates isn’t that she’ll be playing Captain Jack, so that’s not a “racial recasting”; the rumor is that she’d be playing a new character in the series.

    I think this misses the point a little. If you did an association bubble with Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp’s name would be front and center. I said that I think that the level of response would be the same regardless of who you replaced Depp with, not as Captain Jack, but as the lead to the franchise. The fact that Warner chose not only to replace Depp, but to replace Depp with someone who despite your endorsement (I’ve never even heard of those shows, but I’ll look into them), just does not seem on the same level doesn’t make sense unless you start to assume bad motives. This feels like a cash in on the equity of the franchise, which they plan to discard.

    It’s like they can’t comprehend that anyone has tastes that don’t correspond with their own.

    There’s a difference between decision makers and cast and crew here that I think you’re ignoring. I know that the actors usually get the brunt of the criticism because they’re front and center, but I don’t think that’s fair and that’s objectively not the point I’m making, often I think those cast members are superheroes polishing the hell out of the turds that they’re given, but if they’re handed an awful script, there’s only so far it can go. At least at the decision making level, it feels like there’s a direct correlation between racial recasting and low effort film production.

    But maybe you’re right and this is just a taste thing. Can you think of a recent example of a diversity recast that you think worked? Understanding that “worked” might mean something different to different people, can you define how you use it in that context?

    Links, please. Where did anyone on the Ghostbusters (2016) movie say they didn’t bother trying to make it any good because they didn’t need anything other than a diverse cast? What Disney creators, specifically, said that?

    That’s not what I said. What I said was that I do assume bad motives, and I assume that because sometimes people from Disney say the quiet part out loud.

    I’m not sure what I could link you to that would get us from point A to point B here, because leaks tend to be, well, leaks, and my impression is that your response to any leak would be that it might not be representative of the culture at Disney.

    Take this as an example: Elon Musk received an “anonymous” infographic that highlighted Disney’s diversity quotas.

    I could point out that Disney boasts on their DEI page, which exists, that their staff consists of 50% PoC, which they’ve helpfully broken down. And that’s probably unlikely to have happened naturally considering the demographics of the areas they operate without some amount of work.

    Or I could point out that the infographic comes from Disney’s own reimagine tomorrow page.

    But even then, your response could be: Yeah, but a stopped clock is right twice a day too, that doesn’t mean that these leaks are all real. Which… Fair. But my point is that my assumption isn’t entirely baseless, not that my assumption is explicitly factual.

    Maybe I could point you to Disney’s SEC filing from last September where they admit that their DEI initiatives are a risk to their bottom line:

    “Generally, our revenues and profitability are adversely impacted when our entertainment offerings and products, as well as our methods to make our offerings and products available to consumers, do not achieve sufficient consumer acceptance. Further, consumers’ perceptions of our position on matters of public interest, including our efforts to achieve certain of our environmental and social goals, often differ widely and present risks to our reputation and brands.”

    But also, I’m a theater fan.

    Have you watched the Hazbin Hotel series on Prime?

    We’re talking about a musical with a major plot element being the fish-people with magical powers who somehow reproduce without any of them seeming to have the equipment.

    I don’t recall their lack of equipment being a major plot point, but I take your point. I think you’re actually agreeing with me here, but you might not recognize it: My point was that there is an effort to shoehorn in diversity where it doesn’t always make sense. You’re basically saying: “Yes, when they think they can get away with it, because some people like it.”

    To which I’ll resubmit my earlier:

    The delineation, in my mind, between what makes a good recasting and a tokenizing one starts with whether the recast seems to be happening for an enunciable reason other than diversity.

  15. 15
    dragon_snap says:

    I am so confused. Surely the “recasting a Pirates lead” situation *started* with Johnny Depp’s physical assaults of his spouse? (As was determined to have occurred by a judge in the UK, I can find a link to the decision if need be.)

    Also the 2016 Ghostbusters movie is both good and an utter delight, so I am further confused about the discussion of bad motives w/r/t that film. I assume they wanted to make a fun and funny action-comedy with a majority-woman cast, and that seems to me to be exactly what they accomplished, so.

  16. 16
    bcb says:

    Just because they don’t like, say, Erica Henderson’s art on Squirrel Girl doesn’t mean that Henderson was phoning it in

    I have to report that not liking Erica Henderson’s art on Squirrel Girl violates some people’s religious beliefs.

    https://www.shortpacked.com/comic/deities

    Slightly more on-topic, I think the first time I encountered Corso’s attitude was on Nintendo forums in 2005, in the run-up to the release of Super Princess Peach. According to certain people, SPP was a terrible game (before it had even been released) because it ruined the verisimilitude of the Mushroom Kingdom. They argued that the Mario franchise had always been known for extremely detailed and consistent worldbuilding with rich, detailed stories that perfectly maintained verisimilitude. By making a game starring a woman, Nintendo was throwing out 25 years of perfect verisimilitude for a quick controversy.

    The counterargument was “huh?” Because the main-series Mario games have never had anything resembling a rich, detailed story or consistent world-building. It’s the same extremely simple story every time. There are spin-off games that have more story, but they do not have anything resembling verisimilitude. If you want consistent world-building in a video game, the Mario franchise has never been for you.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    BCB: LOL! I don’t think I’ve seen that one before.

    Dragon Snap: Depp definitely lost work because of his abuse of Amber Heard – that’s why he lost being in the Harry Potter spin-off series. But I think Disney may feel like that because Depp won his lawsuit against Heard in the US, they’re willing to hire him again:

    And it’s not just Pirates of the Caribbean fans who want Jack Sparrow to make a comeback, with producer Jerry Bruckheimer explaining why he also thinks the character needs to be involved in any future installments. “He’s just so good at what he does and actors recover from things like this,” Bruckheimer said back in February. “He’s a good individual and he’s a caring individual. He’s somebody that you can rely on and he’s just terrific. I think Johnny is an utter friend and an amazing artist and, again, you go through things in life you wish you hadn’t, but he’s still a talented artist.”

    Corso, we had a misunderstanding.

    You wrote:

    But it feels like a lot of the direction in these recasting efforts, not all, but I’d argue most, think that the recasting is in and of itself the draw. That they don’t need to worry about what makes a movie good so long as they cast a diverse crew. They’ve checked the boxes, and then they phone it in.

    This is a genuinely ludicrous belief – specifically, the belief that filmmakers feel that if they’ve “cast a diverse crew,” they no longer have to try to make a movie good and can instead just phone it in.

    By the time you wrote that

    Sometimes they say it. Ghostbusters (2016) was kind of an obvious example of that. A lot of the material we’re talking about are Disney products, and we’ve seen leaks over time where they say this relatively full throatedly.

    …I had lost the thread of the conversation, and thought you meant that the creators of Ghostbusters (2016) and some Disney creators had actually been documented explicitly saying that they felt that all they had to do was cast a diverse cast and they didn’t try and make the movie good after that.

    But that’s not what you meant. Sorry I misunderstood.

  18. 18
    Duncan says:

    Corso: “Every single one of Ariel’s sisters was a different race or culture. What on Earth does that say about King Triton’s harem? Why do this?”

    Kings’ harems historically came from multiple “races’ and cultures, since royal marriages were made to build alliances, or at least good relations, with other countries. So why not do it?

  19. 19
    Jacqueline Squid Onassis says:

    But do merpeople have different races and cultures? Do we know if they have disputes over religion or immigration?

    Do unicorns have different races and cultures? What about harpies, dryads, and gremlins?

    When we get upset over the mixed race casting of mythological creatures, we’re just being exceptionally weird and, quite possibly, racist.

    For thingssake, what’s the chance that merpeople culture can be accurately translated to a story for our culture and still be true to the actual cultures, races, ethnicities, and religions of those mythological beings? And also, is that a pegasus hovering directly behind your head?

  20. 20
    Corso says:

    Amp @ 17

    This is a genuinely ludicrous belief – specifically, the belief that filmmakers feel that if they’ve “cast a diverse crew,” they no longer have to try to make a movie good and can instead just phone it in.

    in response to me saying:

    “But it feels like a lot of the direction in these recasting efforts, not all, but I’d argue most, think that the recasting is in and of itself the draw. That they don’t need to worry about what makes a movie good so long as they cast a diverse crew. They’ve checked the boxes, and then they phone it in.”

    I stand by that. I feel that way because everything in these movies feels phoned in and lackluster. I could also use words like “contrived”, “shoehorned”, or “forced”. In my opinion, they have similar energies to Spoof movies, but without the benefit of the constant punchlines and references, making the product awkward, like the film is begging it’s audience to get them, but there’s nothing to get.

    I could be convinced that this is an issue of taste, I asked for an example of a work where they recast a character recently, and you thought the product was good, but no one seems to have touched that.

    I’ll give an example:

    I’ll go back to the Little Mermaid. This was a Disney product that was supposed to celebrate one of their most beloved and recognizable franchises ever. It was supposed to showcase what Disney was capable of… And it was ugly. The fish were nightmare fuel. The CGI was inconsistent. The physics made no sense. It felt lazy. I don’t know how else to describe it. And yet, it’s obvious that they spent time and attention organizing Triton’s daughters.

    I wasn’t saying that that was a problem in and of itself*, I was saying what I’ve been saying from the get go: It feels like time and attention was spent on diversity, and then they didn’t put much effort into making the movie y’know… good.

    *In reference to some of the other comments, I could also make the argument that regardless of “verisimilitude” or historical precedent, although I’m not sure that harems were actually as they were described in those comments, having to explain a harem to a child is probably a bad thing, which is probably a good enough reason to avoid the issue. Avoiding the term harem for a second, Disney Kids products are supposed to be wholesome, and trying to explain a family where seven kids came from different mothers is almost per se going to be interesting. I’m not saying that kids would catch that, or that this is some massive issue, only that it’s indicative. There’s no reason to have done this other than to show a menagerie of cultures in a weird context – No one knows their names, what they do, or what they’re interested in. They were props for their skin color. Again…. It feels shoehorned, without reason, tokenizing, and lazy. But diverse!

  21. 21
    Dianne says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that casting deliberately for diversity can make a work better and add to the depth of the work, especially for a remake or reboot.

    For example, casting Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as something other than northern European could add to the play. If they were not Danish, that might explain Hamlet’s attitude towards them–it was all good and well for student Hamlet to have them as friends, but crowned prince Hamlet is another matter. And explain why he and the king were so willing to see them as expendable. So a black or maybe Arabic Rosencrantz and/or Guildenstern could add depth to the play. (Not to imply that Hamlet is a fluffy little thing that needs added depth, but a play where all the lines have become cliches due to being quoted so much needs some sort of novelty.)

    Or consider LotR: Canonically, there are several races of hobbits. Casting Sam as one race and the other three of the four members of the fellowship as another could bring that point out and add a bit of an undercurrent–one that is supposed to be there but gets ignored in every adaptation I’ve ever seen. In other words, casting diversely would make the movie more authentic and close to the original.

    Also, I’ve totally been making up a history for the two Gs in the cartoon since I first saw it. I’m pretty sure the original is originally from the British Isles and that the reboot is a time traveling modern Italian solider. And that at least one goddess was involved in their becoming the superhero G. I promise to stop if you really hate fanfic.

  22. 22
    Ampersand says:

    I could be convinced that this is an issue of taste, I asked for an example of a work where they recast a character recently, and you thought the product was good, but no one seems to have touched that.

    A few examples of recent movies or shows that I thought were good or better than good, which cast traditionally white characters with nonwhite actors:

    The Green Knight (one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen, but very good) (Gawain)
    All recent live-action Spider-Man movies (MJ, Ned, Flash, Liz….)
    The Batman (Jim Gordon and Catwoman)
    No Time To Die and other Bond films (Miss Moneypenny) (also, M for a “gender recasting”)
    A Series of Unfortunate Events (Mr Poe, and the aunt character)
    Aquaman (Aquaman)
    Lucifer (Mazikeen) (I admit, I don’t love this show, but many people do and it doesn’t feel to me like the creators are phoning it in)

    I feel sure there are other examples; after all, the vast majority of works, I never see.

    I can think of MANY more examples in theater. By now any regular theater-goer has seen a bunch of cross-racial castings or race-blind castings and and least some were great performances in great shows. But as recently as 2008, this was still controversial with some people (John Simon was against it).

    * * *

    I’ll go back to the Little Mermaid. This was a Disney product that was supposed to celebrate one of their most beloved and recognizable franchises ever. It was supposed to showcase what Disney was capable of… And it was ugly. The fish were nightmare fuel. The CGI was inconsistent. The physics made no sense. It felt lazy. I don’t know how else to describe it. And yet, it’s obvious that they spent time and attention organizing Triton’s daughters.

    Mediocre and bad movies come out all the time. Including remakes – many of the Disney live-action remakes have been pretty dismal (including ones with white leads). You don’t need to bring up race to explain why some movies and shows are mediocre, because mediocre is the default setting. You’re right that most TV shows and movies with cross-racial castings are mediocre or bad, but that’s also true of most shows and movies without cross-racial castings.

    It just seems like an insidious double-standard. If you see a meh movie with a traditionally white character played by a nonwhite actor, you blame it on (laziness related to) casting a nonwhite actor. But if we had the exact same meh movie starring a white actor, you’d probably shrug it off as just another meh movie; you certainly wouldn’t bring the actors’ race into figuring out what went wrong.

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Dianne – You’re definitely right.

    I think Hamilton, although it wasn’t a remake, is a good example.

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