Color blind casting is one of those terms we throw around haphazardly. It seems like a beautiful and noble idea, right. “I’m not even going to pay attention to color. I’ll just cast who I cast”. Well, I call bullshit. Color blindness is unrealistic and in media, it leads to the monochrome wonderland we see today. Star Wars, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, He’s Just Not That Into You, Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Girls, Sex in the City. Let me be clear. All of the above are shows and movies that I at the very least enjoyed and in the case of some (Buffy) am absolutely obsessed with. They have good writing, they’re strong shows, and they are not overtly racist. They’re just colorblind.
The problem is, colorblindness in casting doesn’t move us any further forward than “token casting” or “reverse casting”. Here let’s define these real quick. Token casting: That one black guy in every 90’s movie ever who was there to be a) funny and streetwise b) wise and streetwise or c) a drug lord. Also known as stereotyping. Look, for better or worse, it was a step forward. Now we need to keep stepping forward, because this shit still happens. We’re past it guys. Let it go. And reverse casting: BET movies, some (not all) Spike Lee joints, the shows Sister Sister and Smart Guy, everything, everything, EVERYTHING Tyler Perry has ever made. Understandably, monochrome casting has created an urge for black artists to create their own work. But, separate is not equal. Why the hell would you just want to create more monochrome? Let’s be smart about this people.
No blindness is not the key and neither is casting based on race. So what solution does that leave? Simple. Casting with an awareness of diversity. Create characters that could be played by any race or ethnicity (Let’s talk about Scandal people) and then make sure your cast is diverse. I mentioned Scandal, I’ll also redeem Joss Whedon (we are not worthy) by citing his later career with Firefly and Dollhouse, and shows like Misfits and Skins on BBC. There is a great benefit in showing diversity without holding up a giant sign that says “Look! These people are different”. Media should reflect reality, which in our society is diverse, but it also effects reality. Example, you show kids growing up two types of shows “white shows” and “black shows”, they think that races are inherently separate and different. Hence, oreos [I hate that term] like me are considered weirdos who are trying to be white, or worse, brilliant exceptions to our race. The truth is, black people and white people are pretty much the same. And if we show them being together, on the same intelligence level, in a companionable relationship, we could do a lot for race in this country. As content creators, we have a responsibility to portray life as it is and as it should be. Both of which at this point include ethnic diversity. This goes for all races and nationalities. Honestly, how do we have any show or movie set in New York that shows only white Americans? You can’t turn your head without seeing diversity. Step up Hollywood. We can do better.
So, I’ll close this by saying again, fuck color blind casting. Open your eyes and make a difference. Those are my thoughts on the subject. What do you think? Let’s talk about it.