April 22, 2016 by T. Gregory Argall
People are getting upset about things again.
This time it’s about other people’s art.
I’m probably going to catch some grief for simplifying the issue, but from my perspective, that’s what it comes down to.
Earlier this week there were reports, initially in the form of something that a blogger heard somewhere, suggesting that Stana Katic and Tamala Jones would not part of the cast for the as-yet-still theoretical ninth season of the TV show “Castle.” Immediately the Internet lost it’s freaking mind. Angry, ranting posts were made on Facebook. Short, angry outbursts were tweeted on Twitter. Smartphone portraits of aghast expressions were shared on Instagram. Multiple petitions were circulated, demanding that ABC Productions reverse a decision that had not actually been confirmed. Other members of the cast were judged and reviled based on how quickly and emotionally they commented on what was still an unconfirmed rumour.
It was kind of pathetisad in its scope.
To justify their selfish anger and demands, other bloggers quoted the original blog, including the phrases “I heard that…” and “I also hear that…” but no mention of anything other that one person claiming that another unnamed person said something that wasn’t proven.
To be clear, no matter what you call your blog or how many readers, followers, or retweets you may have on any given day, writing a blog is not journalism and does not make you a reliable source of information.
I write here each week, sometimes even in an attempt to actually be informative, but I am under no illusion whatsoever that anything I write in my blog is any more than opinion and hearsay. And that’s a fact.
(Heh heh. See that I did there?)
Last week there was a massive Internet outcry over the fact that Scarlett Johansson has been cast as the main character in an American film remake of “Ghost In The Shell,” a Japanese series of comics and films. The issue, of course, is that she’s not Japanese, which would potentially be a valid concern if it were a Japanese remake of a Japanese series of comics and films. But it’s not. It’s an American film, not a Japanese film.
(Curiously, the complaint has been that she is not Asian rather than specifically Japanese, which seems to imply that those who claim to care most about preserving the Japanese-ness of the story also believe that all Asians look alike.)
The publishers of the “Ghost In The Shell” manga series have said that they didn’t require or even expect that the American film would have a predominantly Japanese cast. As reasonably intelligent people who understand what words mean, they knew that when the granted film production rights to a film production company the film production company would have the rights to produce a film and that it would be the film that the film producers would want to produce.
Basically, some Americans paid them a bunch of money for the rights to use their story elements to make an American film.
It’s not that hard to understand.
But people who claim to dream of a world where race doesn’t matter often seem to take issue with people for not taking race into consideration in every decision made.
Conversely, there has been no railing at the heavens or gnashing of teeth at all about the fact that there is only one Asian character featured in the latest remake of Kirosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” Strange, that. It’s like people are cherry-picking the things they complain about based on whether or not they knew the story existed before they heard about it.
It all comes down to art and a sense of entitlement.
Any attempt to create something meaningful in any medium creates art. Painting, sculpting, drawing, film making, writing, animating, singing, dancing, composing music, whatever. If you express yourself in any of those ways, you have made art. The quality of that art is intrinsically subjective in spite of near-universal insistence on quantifying and judging any and all creative acts.
In the cases of the “Castle” and “Ghost In The Shell” teapot tempests, fans who profess to love and appreciate the art are demanding that the creators of the art eliminate any potential for creativity and growth in their art if it doesn’t match exactly how the fans feel it should be.
“I like what you’ve made but I would like it more if your vision for your project had less of your vision for your project.”
The voice of the Internet, striving so “honourably” for change, is protesting any suggestion of change.
How would you feel if the previous owner of your home kicked open your door and demanded that you paint your livingroom in varying shades of purple, orange, and brown because that’s how it was when he lived there? You would try to ignore him and, if needed, have the police remove him from your home.
It sounds like an extreme analogy, but that’s what is happening with “Castle” and “Ghost In The Shell” and “Superman v. Batman” and countless other films and TV shows that are not exactly the sames as your fond memories of what they once were.
The solution is simple. If you don’t like what someone else is doing with their art then create your own.
Create new characters and new stories and tell them they way that you want them told.
Wrath of the Internet notwithstanding, the only thing stopping you is you.
Try to be nice to each other.