Monday, April 17, 2023

Let's Talk Colorism

Folks, I swear I had a cute post planned for today. And then. Well. 
So as you may know, Disney's been doing live action versions of things. As such, they have been rolling out announcements of casting for the live action "Lilo & Stitch". 
An open call was apparently held for Lilo, and a relatively unknown actress was cast. And then they announced the casting for Nani, Lilo's sister/guardian. 
Now first, obviously comparing real people to cartoons is fraught, but Lilo and Nani are pretty visibly brown in the cartoon version. The actresses cast are both of Hawaiian descent (yay!) and both grew up in Hawai'i (yay!). 
It's worth noting that in the cartoon, one of the voice actors for these two characters was raised in Hawai'i and neither were of Hawaiian descent so, if we are grading on a curve, we could call this improvement. 
It is also noticeable that the two actresses hired are pretty pale compared to their cartoon counterparts. This doesn't make them less Hawaiian. It does however speak to a different problem often found in media, where folks who are more visibly brown are often overlooked even for roles where being brown is part of the experience. 
And look, to be clear, I am a pale complected person of Hawaiian, Chinese, and European descent myself. I am not saying that lighter Hawaiians can't or should not play Hawaiian characters. They should! But to say that Hollywood in general and Disney specifically have often leaned towards a lighter choice is not really a bold or hot take. There's lots of data. 
These may really be the best two actresses for these roles. But it is fair for people to comment on and notice that the casting choices would have fit in equally well in a live action "Snow White".