Friday 25 August 2017

Anna Diop is Starfire: can we not do the thing?

Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire in the Titans TV show. Anna Diop is a Senegalese naturalised US citizen. Starfire is a bright orange alien so, honestly, the only people who could authentically be cast in this role are busy hosting BBC antique shows or pretending to run the United States.

What I guess I'm asking is this: can fandom, just this once, not be annoying about a black actress being cast in a non-black role?

The nerd rage would be more than usually ludricrous in this case. And, make no mistake, it is usually ludricrous. There are very few characters in comics who “have to” be white. There are a few: Steve Rogers has to be white because of how the armed services were segregated back then, Batman pretty much has to be because the sort of old money wealth both his parents come from isn't often found in African-American hands; Professor Xavier for similar reasons.

Nick Fury, though? Absent his WWII origins, not necessary. Mary Jane Watson? Not a character with much real background, let alone background that needs her to be white (or even ginger). Aquaman is effectively a character of mixed heritage already, it just happens that one of those ethnicities is fictional so you can have the fact that Jason Momoa is of Native Hawaiian, Native American, German and Irish descent come from any angle (either Aquaman's father was all those things or Atlantians share characteristics with one or more of those ethnicities).

Simply put: few characters even now (let alone decades ago when these characters were created) are designed to be white. Starfire is an alien princess who is bright orange. Requirements for the role, much like the requirements for Batman being a white guy with a strong chin, are basically that she be hot. To each their own but I think she qualifies.

You just know I'm yelling into the wind, though, don't you? That's just the world we live in. There will be scores of badly worded arguments trying to disguise racism beneath head canon.

It will be incredibly tiresome. 

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