It all started when I noticed the advertising for the latest movie “The Personal History of David Copperfield” about Charles Dickens much beloved literary creation. I was somewhat surprised that this famous fictional character was to be played by a BAME actor, Dev Patel, and I contrasted the traditional image with the current image, to the ire of some. (See below) Now I am sure Dev Patel is an excellent actor and worthy of major roles but I can’t find any evidence that the fictional creation of Charles Dickens had this sort of ethnicity. Imposing a different ethnicity on a Dickensian character seems a little odd to me.
So what, some people say to me, he’s an imaginary creation anyway, so let’s reimagine him any way we want!
Which got me thinking! There is a strange logic to saying that just because a writer invents a character that it cannot be possible to change how they are. Hence we have a female Dr Who – with attendant plunging ratings. I suppose it is even logical to say that James Bond could be played by a BAME actor, and that we could even go the whole nine yards and make it Jane Bond! Fictional characters are always just that. Agreed?
Take the “fictional character” Friar Tuck from the English legends of the outlaw Robin Hood. Here we see the “traditional” portrayal of him and then a more recent BBC portrayal.
Just recently, the BBC was pushing a new version of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Here is its imaging of an 18th century Transylvanian nun. Perhaps not one we expected but I am sure the creative quotient is very high.
I suppose all is fair in love and art and I look forward to the stunning and brave new Black Panther movie with an all white cast. (I favour actor Laurence Fox as King T’Challa, btw)
However real life is different to fiction. It is simply not valid to warp known historical realities. Yet this is terribly in vogue amongst the arty woke community.
Let me offer you just a few examples, but I do have more.
Consider Margaret of Anjou, an English Queen who was born in 1430. The image on the left shows how history records her. And then, on the right, this is now the BBC presents her.
Consider Lord Randolph, a senior English ambassador during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Take a look at the historical Randolph, then take a look at 2018 movie version.
By the way, the director of this movie ( a woke white woman called Josie Rourke, is on record stating “I was really clear, I would not direct an all-white period drama”. No one seems to have told her that the reality of period dramas in the UK is that they were pretty much “all white” people doing different things.
It looks like any historical character can now be recast to accommodate a modern desire to provide more employment and raised profile for BAME actors. Whilst the idea of adding greater ethnicity is fine, it cannot be at the expense of reality. Where will it end? A Jamaican Winston Churchill, a Somalian Oliver Cromwell? Boudica played by an Arab?
It’s time we spoke up against this strange cultural appropriation emanating from the woke left. They are disfiguring history as part of their rewriting of it.