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Supergirl - To Refit or Create New Characters

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#61 Omega

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 07:24 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 08 June 2015 - 06:31 PM, said:

View PostQueenTiye, on 08 June 2015 - 01:42 PM, said:

SO - here's the question: where does the hand-me-downness begin, actually?  Is someone going to ask why I have to have a black Little Women?  If someone asks that question the value of doing it is already apparent, and not at all "hand me down"  If the casting choice of a black or white male in this new treatment of the story opens up narrative lines  EITHER WAY just because of the change in setting of the story - in what way is the character "left overs?"  
You're changing the characters and the setting-- you're writing a new story.  So why recycle another writer's title and character names?

The place, time, and skin color of the characters are maybe 10% of the story of Little Women. And I'm probably being generous by giving it 10%, just because I'm not as familiar with Little Women as I probably should be.

Edited by Omega, 08 June 2015 - 07:24 PM.


#62 Christopher

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 08:03 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 08 June 2015 - 06:31 PM, said:

You're changing the characters and the setting-- you're writing a new story.  So why recycle another writer's title and character names?

Why not? There have been many times it's been done quite successfully, so it's silly and counterfactual to say it shouldn't be done. A lot of creativity consists of variations on a theme, and a lot of creativity relies on combining familiar elements in new ways. That contrast and tension between the familiar and the novel is often a key source of interest in a work.

Writers reuse familiar characters for the same reason they set stories in places like Paris or London or Las Vegas rather than inventing imaginary cities, and the same reason movies and TV shows license well-known pop songs rather than writing new ones -- because familiar concepts have existing resonances with an audience, resonances that can be played on or played against. People have expectations about Sherlock Holmes, say, so if you give them a version of Sherlock Holmes that confounds their expectations, that lets you engage with your audience in a way you couldn't if you just made up some new detective character with no established cultural resonance.

Not to mention that ideas about what's "essential" to a character and what's mutable are themselves subject to change. For the first half of the 20th century, all Sherlock Holmes screen adaptations except the first two Basil Rathbone films were updated to the then-present day; for instance, most of the Rathbone films had a WWII-era setting. After all, in his day, Holmes was a very cutting-edge character, his methods beyond the real-world state of the art for police and detective work, so audiences in his day saw him as an ultramodern, even futuristic character, and that persisted for a couple of generations. It was only after 1950 that the idea set in that Holmes was a nostalgic character who "needed" to be in Victorian/Edwardian times. I daresay that pre-1950 audiences would've said it was "silly" to believe that Holmes couldn't be set in the present day.

Edited by Christopher, 08 June 2015 - 08:05 PM.

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#63 QueenTiye

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Posted 08 June 2015 - 09:01 PM

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You're changing the characters and the setting-- you're writing a new story.  So why recycle another writer's title and character names?

Emma
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Do the name changes actually mean we don't know which character is which? To your point, in the U.S. and lots of other places, black folks have the same names as white folks, frequently. I don't HAVE to name the character Jovanna just because she's black. (You see how you sound? You probably don't like the idea that that's what seems to me to be implied. But there it is.)

Why do anything for art at all, other than that you have the creativity and desire to do it and contribute it to the world of ideas? And now you say that onsite people must forever be barred from adapting g and trying on new roles as part of the craft of acting, that they should feel ashamed or degraded by so doing, etc.

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#64 G-man

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 11:38 AM

View PostChristopher, on 08 June 2015 - 02:29 PM, said:

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Rodriguez wasn't saying every minority actor should do things her way, she was saying she herself didn't want to do things a certain way.

Exactly, and the response from the commentators was essentially "That girl be crazy," because they felt she should want to do things a certain way, and had no interest in hearing anything that contradicted their views.  Like you, they rejected the premise of her objection.

Now, that is a damn lie.

Sir, not only is your statement untrue, it is un-called-for.

Allow me to clarify, I did not say that you were saying the same thing they did.  I said you were employing the same tactics as they to belittle and denigrate another's arguments, which you are.

And this is the Second Time in this thread I have had to ask you to "COOL IT!"

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 09 June 2015 - 11:38 AM.

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#65 RJDiogenes

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Posted 09 June 2015 - 05:37 PM

View PostQueenTiye, on 08 June 2015 - 09:01 PM, said:

And now you say that onsite people must forever be barred from adapting g and trying on new roles as part of the craft of acting, that they should feel ashamed or degraded by so doing, etc.  
No.  And now I'm done with you, too.
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#66 G-man

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 08:28 AM

:facepalm-f7e:

This goes back to the issue of adapting/reworking another's work versus creating something new that is based on or inspired by that person's work.

Romeo & Juliet --> West Side Story

Romeo and Juliet has been told and retold, sometimes the setting was consistent with Elizabethan theatre, other times, it was consistent with the setting described in the play, and other times it was brought into the modern world.  They all worked as adaptations of Shakespeare's work, and given that I do not believe the accusation can be made that they are cynically trying to cash in on the work's popularity.

That said, West Side Story, which is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is very much its own creature, because they had not only changed the setting, characters, and circumstances, but were raising issues that were contemporary with the times this musical was being written.

Seven Samurai --> Magnificent Seven --> Battle Beyond the Stars

Seven Samurai was a great film.  Nowadays, we have Anime and Kung-Fu Cinema adaptations of the film ... I can't speak to their quality because I haven't seen them.  However, Magnificent Seven was most definitely drawing from Seven Samurai and is regarded as a classic in its own right, and then Battle Beyond the Stars was obviously drawing from the same source.  However, by changing the setting and the characters, and revamping the plot to fit the peculiarities of the new settings and genre's they become their own creatures as well.

Everyone has their own take on the matter and what they'd prefer to see.

/s/

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Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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#67 BklnScott

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 10:30 AM

They changed all the Shakespeare during the Restoration - some of it didn't get changed back for a long time. King Lear had a happy ending for like 200 years. People loved it.

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#68 Christopher

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 12:22 PM

View PostG-man, on 09 June 2015 - 11:38 AM, said:

View PostChristopher, on 08 June 2015 - 02:29 PM, said:

Quote

Quote

Rodriguez wasn't saying every minority actor should do things her way, she was saying she herself didn't want to do things a certain way.

Exactly, and the response from the commentators was essentially "That girl be crazy," because they felt she should want to do things a certain way, and had no interest in hearing anything that contradicted their views.  Like you, they rejected the premise of her objection.

Now, that is a damn lie.

Sir, not only is your statement untrue, it is un-called-for.

Allow me to clarify, I did not say that you were saying the same thing they did.  I said you were employing the same tactics as they to belittle and denigrate another's arguments, which you are.

And this is the Second Time in this thread I have had to ask you to "COOL IT!"

It's a conflict of interest for you to act as moderator in a debate you're a participant in, especially when you're the one who leveled the initial personal attack. Who do I appeal to if I think you need to cool it, if I feel you're falsely accusing me of something I have no intention of doing?
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#69 G-man

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 12:29 PM

You may contact the board's Administrator if you feel I acted inappropriately.

/s/

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Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
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Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#70 BklnScott

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 12:49 PM

View PostG-man, on 05 June 2015 - 12:15 PM, said:

Ummm :unsure:

So, does this mean you'd prefer that existing characters be reimagined to reflect a more diverse world rather than having new characters being created for the same effect?

In this context, yes. I think it's a no-brainer and certainly it's what I prefer. (I only skimmed down-thread but I gather there has been some consternation over the lack of a clear, resolute answer to that question. Happy to provide it.)

The context being: we're talking about contemporary-set TV/movie adaptions of well-known superhero comic books. Right? I haven't lost the thread? Of the thread?

Assuming this is what we're talking about, I would dispute the notion that introducing new characters achieves "the same effect." These are not just any characters. Indeed, they are not just characters. They are iconic figures possessing deep cultural resonance. A new character doesn't have that - can't have that. Generations have grown up around these heroes. Anyone from your typical 5 year old to your typical 95 year old great granny can tell you about them, even if only in vague terms from what they've absorbed through cultural osmosis. A new character doesn't have that.

Are diverse casts important? Yes, obviously. And all things being equal, there are various ways to ensure that a cast looks like America circa 2015. But this is something else. When one takes the position that only white actors should play these parts - because they've always been drawn that way - one is also by definition (although perhaps inadvertently) arguing that nonwhite audiences should not be able to see people who look like them breathing life into these legendary figures of American mythology. Which is a horrible consequence to making such a silly "he didn't get out of the cockadoodie car!" argument in the first place. Because they've always been drawn that way!

I mean, really.

Edited by BklnScott, 10 June 2015 - 01:01 PM.

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#71 G-man

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 12:57 PM

Thank you, Scott.

Yes, that does answer my question and why, and that was all that I was looking for.  That what I felt was a fairly innocuous question asking for clarification on a matter got such a heated (and non-responsive) response I am still at a loss to explain.

/s/

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Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
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Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#72 BklnScott

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 01:17 PM

This is a very touchy subject particularly for folks who self-identify as outsiders and/or have awakened to the cultural elements of white hetero male privilege. (Which is really what we're talking about here.)

When people seem to dismiss such sensitivities out of hand - as some on the thread have done, though not you as far as I have seen - it is understandably triggering for some folks. I was told that my position on this is "lame," "cynical" and "all about the Benjamins." Does that sound remotely like the argument that I'm making? I don't think it does, but anyway - I admit I had to give myself a time-out on replies after that.

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#73 G-man

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 01:36 PM

Not at all, your response was perfect as far as I could tell, and completely answered my question.

It was something I hadn't thought about, and ... silly me ... when I am ignorant about something, I like to ask questions of people to correct my ignorance.  Apparently, among some, this is no longer considered an acceptable practice.

/s/

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Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#74 BklnScott

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 02:24 PM

View PostG-man, on 10 June 2015 - 01:36 PM, said:

Not at all, your response was perfect as far as I could tell, and completely answered my question.

It was something I hadn't thought about ...

Do you agree or disagree? :)

Edited by BklnScott, 10 June 2015 - 02:24 PM.

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#75 G-man

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 02:27 PM

Upon hearing your reasoning, yes, I do agree.

/s/

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Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#76 BklnScott

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 02:35 PM

Huzzah! Let's everybody hug it out now.

:) :)

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#77 RJDiogenes

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 05:33 PM

View PostG-man, on 10 June 2015 - 08:28 AM, said:

Romeo & Juliet --> West Side Story  
That's the perfect example right there.

View PostBklnScott, on 10 June 2015 - 12:49 PM, said:

These are not just any characters. Indeed, they are not just characters. They are iconic figures possessing deep cultural resonance. A new character doesn't have that - can't have that.  
They weren't icons when they were created.  When is it time to create the female and minority icons?  The 22nd century?

View PostBklnScott, on 10 June 2015 - 01:17 PM, said:

I was told that my position on this is "lame," "cynical" and "all about the Benjamins."
I hope you don't mean me, because I never said that.
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#78 sierraleone

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 08:33 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 10 June 2015 - 05:33 PM, said:

View PostBklnScott, on 10 June 2015 - 12:49 PM, said:

These are not just any characters. Indeed, they are not just characters. They are iconic figures possessing deep cultural resonance. A new character doesn't have that - can't have that.  
They weren't icons when they were created.  When is it time to create the female and minority icons?  The 22nd century?

Something felt off to me when I considered the reverse. Are most of our fictional caucasian icons "white icons"? I mean, I know they are "white" or "caucasian", but what is their whiteness all about, what makes them so iconically white (if they are so)? Is it just that they are, traditionally, considered the default, and/or highest on the racial social pyramid (the whole white male privilege theory). And/or is their some intrinsic detail(s) about these characters (besides low melanin concentration) that make them iconically white, and highly implausible to include as part of a character from a minority group? That a person of a minority intrinsically could not relate to?

I honestly would ask that in reverse too. Are most of our fictional minority icons " *insert minority here* icons "? As in what is their minority-ness, outside their melanin?

Most stories with minority characters don't spend every scene touching on cultural experiences of each minority, as when getting on in day-to-day life it is not always necessary. People have a lot more in common than the have differences. Most people can understand that being mistreatment sucks (oppression, discrimination), chores/work is necessary and working hard is a good habit, or that people can have conflicting feelings around holidays for various reasons (regardless of the holiday), etc, etc.

Not that I am saying that writers should ignore minority experiences when writing them. I think the best writers touch upon their character's cultural labels affecting their character when relevant and it makes sense in that setting, and don't touch upon it when it is not. More and more though, with the modern melting pot and interracial couples and children, such distinct lines, if they were ever completely distinct (and were meaningful and not arbitrary), are getting more blurry by the year. At least for stories set in our contemporary times. You can have a inner-city white kid, or a black president. If in that story was contemporary and the inner-city kid's whole class is mostly white, or if the white-house staff was mostly black, one may not be able to feel like this story is actually taking place in a universe they recognize due to its lack of representation of current demographics. The universe is only supposed to be "nominally fictionally", that it is supposed to be set in a world we understand and recognize... but is not suppose to have minorities? If one is using iconic stories/characters in a contemporary setting something has got to give.

Agent Carter they had to deal with the sexism, though it wasn't a defining trait of Agent Carter, but it certainly affect how she was treated by society. If the sexism was not made obvious in Agent Carter and it was set in our decade we could be wondering at first if she was actually incompetent, not if everyone was sexist. Because our expectations would be that there would be less sexism (not non-existant, just much less).

Or maybe, to some degree, we just expect our culture to be put in a better light, or perceived them as such. In past contemporary TV and film stories (that is old shows/movies that were set in their contemporary times) that did not deal with "race relations" as a "topic" but included a token black/minority character or two, from what I recall and understand many were domestic servants, or clerks in more professional settings... I wonder how often they were shown as mistreated if the story plot or theme did not actually touch upon race relations. I am sure the minority characters were stereotyped, but I doubt they showed them being mistreated unless it was "justified" on screen (messing up their job, etc.)

Anyways, I am getting side-tracked.

Maybe it is just me but I do not see many traditionally caucasian characters that I would says are "white icons". In the sense that they are icons of whiteness, if that makes sense. At least not characters set in modern times. .... Funny, I can imagine William Wallace as a white icon of sorts (fighting against the British, ha!), but not, say, Robin Hood, despite the fact that if Robin Hood was real he could have been a contemporary of William Wallace. Maybe it is because, Robin Hood is fictional, and despite his fictional English origins, but also because his story has been retold so many times, it is like his story is much more about the people telling and the people listening to the story, than it is about the backdrop/setting, if that makes sense. While William Wallace on the other hand is steeped in history, and Scottish culture, and is actually more of a Scottish icon (literally), which in modern times is often a proxy for white. Historically Europeans held many of their neighbours in little esteem, such as when the Irish were mistreated when they first came to America (which certainly wasn't the first time that the Irish were deemed lesser than!), and did not readily identify themselves as all belonging to the same group.

I suppose one would argue there aren't white icons, once we get to the point as soon as we are ok with recasting actors/characters in either direction on the melanin scale.

Edited by sierraleone, 10 June 2015 - 09:53 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#79 sierraleone

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Posted 10 June 2015 - 10:48 PM

To summarize, in my opinion, trying to draw impregnable lines between "black culture" and "white culture" or any imagined dichotomy of the human experience is largely a fools errand. Therefor trying to draw impregnable lines between the "black characters" or "white characters" (or "characteristics" of blacks/whites characters or people) is also largely a fools errand.

We have been influencing each others cultures for as long as we have all been in contact with one another. My understanding is Elvis was greatly influenced by black music. Would the following be hard to believe, or inconceivable?
- A white kid who's favourite music happened to be jazz or rap? Who's favourite 60's icon is Martin Luther King's or Muhammed Ali?
- A black kid who's favourite music happened to be classical or country? Who's favourite 60's icon is Alfred Hitchcock or Neil Armstrong?  
A story might treat the kids experience different depending on where s/he lived (inner city, middle class urbanite, rural tornado ally) but none of them are inconceivable, to me anyways. Even if a characters passions made them perceived by most as an "egregious anomaly", would that make them a "poor" character? Or not capable of being an "iconic" character in our culture, particularly to whichever group of humanity the character is labelled as belonging to?
(and what super hero doesn't count as a egregious anomaly anyways :D . Using egregious anomaly to mean more like horribly easy to notice and unusual/unexpected, as opposed to easily noticed and bad.)

Edited by sierraleone, 11 June 2015 - 07:33 PM.

Rules for surviving an Autocracy:

Rule#1: Believe the Autocrat.
Rule#2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
Rule#3: Institutions will not save you.
Rule#4: Be outraged.
Rule#5: Don't make compromises.
Rule#6: Remember the future.
- Masha Gessen
Source: http://www2.nybooks....r-survival.html

#80 RJDiogenes

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Posted 11 June 2015 - 06:21 PM

^^  Well said.  There are definitely people who live their lives beyond the stereotypes, despite all the peer pressure to conform.  And that's exactly what should be encouraged.  I think all of us here have experienced that pressure and survived it, and it exists in all of the arbitrary social group that society divides us into.  I recall there used to be a Black female poster at TrekBBS whose friends frowned upon her for being into Science Fiction-- because she was "usually so Afro-centric."  Think of the implications of that.

View Postsierraleone, on 10 June 2015 - 08:33 PM, said:

Something felt off to me when I considered the reverse. Are most of our fictional caucasian icons "white icons"? I mean, I know they are "white" or "caucasian", but what is their whiteness all about, what makes them so iconically white (if they are so)? Is it just that they are, traditionally, considered the default,  
You've hit the nail on the head.  They were not "icons of Whiteness," they were simply the default norm in that time and place.  Their existence had absolutely nothing to do with promoting anything but heroism and adventure and they were, and are, great characters. But you have to look at it from the perspective of people who were constantly made aware that they were outsiders and second-class citizens.  These people were very conscious of the fact that most of the characters on TV were White and those that weren't were seldom portrayed sympathetically (certain shows, even in the 50s, went out of their way to promote minorities, but not many).  But then in the 60s and 70s, things started to change and we started to see more diversity in movies and TV.  In I Spy, Robert Culp and Bill Cosby were equal partners-- nothing was made of Cosby being black, it was just a show about two heroic figures, one of whom happened to be Black and one White.  In Star Trek, Uhura and Sulu were bridge officers who just happened to be Black and Asian (George Takei in particular was adamant that his character be an everyman, something else that nuTrek screwed up).  The same was true in more mainstream shows of the time, like Room 222 and Julia and so forth. Not that there weren't stories about racism-- there were plenty, as there should be, because it's there.  But the message was that there are people in the world, some of whom happen to be Black or Asian or whatever and that's cool.  Everybody shares the world. Currently, we have plenty of shows that do the same.  Sleepy Hollow and SHIELD are perfect examples.  Both have original characters who are unique and rich and interesting, and just happen to be Black. Some of them, especially Abby on Sleepy Hollow, are sure to become iconic.  So now we have this business of recycling old White characters and remaking them as Black or female or whatever-- in this case under discussion, it's Jimmy Olson, who has been an iconic part of the Superman family for more than half a century.  Now they could have created a brand-new Black character, like these other shows did, and that character could have become just as iconic as Jimmy Olson.  That would have been something, huh?  An iconic Black character standing up there with Superman and Lois and Jimmy and Perry. But what chance does Black Jimmy Olson have of making history as that Black iconic member of the Superman family?  Zero.  Because Jimmy Olson already exists.  Therefore this character will end up a novelty, not an icon.  An opportunity missed. That's the problem.

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