General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

If Disney made a movie about Heidi, could a black actress be used to play her?

Asked by Yellowdog (7658points) 1 week ago

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25 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Given that Heidi is an orphan, if it were set in modern day, they could cast justnabout any ethnicity to play her. Make her half Syrian, the daughter of the Swiss man who had an affair in Syria, and then both parents killed by Assad.

mazingerz88's avatar

Is Heidi a fictional story? Could her tale be universal in nature? If that’s the case then yes.

kritiper's avatar

A black Swiss girl? Perhaps…
Piss off the Swiss?? Perhaps…

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

To answer: could she? Yes.

This is the 4th question about color blind casting and the 2nd from you. Please stop.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, a black actress could play Heidi, but I admit that it always throws me a little when a name doesn’t “fit” the face. I’m mostly talking in real life, but it’s not like it upsets me, I just find it interesting the parents chose the name. Heidis in my mind are blonde and white and German or Swiss or something similar. Every a Heidi I know is blonde. Lol. But, I knew a Chinese Francesca, and plenty of black people who aren’t Hispanic who have Spanish names (I’m not sure why that’s a trend?) and certainly any race can live anywhere.

The story still works with Heidi being represented as a different race.

Europe is now becoming more and more diverse within each country. I think eventually the whole race thing is going to fade away. The world is becoming more and more mixed. Mass migrations will continue, and probably grow significantly with climate changes. Generations younger than us will not think of race and nationality in the same way I don’t think.

I can see the argument to represent Heidi as she would have looked at the time the story was written, and as she is traditionally represented, but it’s not really necessary or essential to the story. It would be up to the casting agent and producer.

canidmajor's avatar

Yes, of course.

You do know that you are not required to see any movies, right? Don’t like black actors? Don’t go.

JLeslie's avatar

Gawd, he didn’t say he doesn’t like black actors.

canidmajor's avatar

”Gawd”, he keeps responding to these Qs arguing why they shouldn’t. Pretty good indicator, that.

JLeslie's avatar

@canidmajor He responded about black actors in certain roles. Not black actors in general.

canidmajor's avatar

I know what he said, @JLeslie, the point is that he keeps saying it. Again and again.
For example, why not Heidi? Or Snow White? Or The Equalizer? Or The Little Mermaid? All of those are not historical figures, and the points of all those stories or fables or folktales are standard, basic, situational human stories. Heidi, young girl is passed around to family members for convenience of adults, is unhappy, finally gets appropriate care and helps another child. Snow White, girl contends with narcissistic step-parent, retreats into self from misery, finally gets out from under and has decent life, Equalizer, guy is fed up with justice system, has exceptional skill set, goes all vigilante on their asses. Little Mermaid, adolescent makes bad deal with bad character because she is dissatisfied with the restrictions of her life. Problems ensue.
In no case of any of these stories is race a factor. Conclusions can be drawn.

chyna's avatar

IMO, I feel most characters race can be interchangeable unless the story is about a certain race. Martin Luther King comes to mind. Abraham Lincoln is another.
I don’t see why the person’s name should matter either. Heidi doesn’t have to be a blonde.
But these questions are getting tiresome.

canidmajor's avatar

Come to think of it, in all those cases, location doesn’t matter, neither does sex and/or gender.

Irukandji's avatar

There is only one physical description of Heidi in the book, and it doesn’t specify her race. It just describes her as having “short, black curly hair.” So a black actress with short, black curly hair would match the author’s description better than any blonde actress who has ever been cast in the role.

Yellowdog's avatar

I only asked about Snow White and Heidi. For the reasons answered.

I asked LONG after the discussion was growing tired, and people kept chiming in that it didn’t matter but nobody was countering with that sometimes it does.

The other two questions were asked by other Jellies. And I gave examples, that most characters are interchangeable with certain modifications to the stories, but that it doesn’t work when race is a part of the character’s identity.

canidmajor's avatar

@Yellowdog Your comments on the other threads were pretty telling. The fact that after the the other two Qs were pretty well covered and you kept at it is pretty telling.
This Q: https://www.fluther.com/215193/should-casting-be-color-blind/ covered the topic pretty comprehensively.

JLeslie's avatar

Japan’s cartoon looked like this https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi,_Girl_of_the_Alps

Europe is not like America. Western and Northern Europe were not diverse for the most part, it’s not like America. A story about a young girl from a certain country is likely to have certain characteristics. A mermaid, which is total fantasy, I think is different than a girl. I’d say, as I’ve said, that now, present day, it doesn’t matter to me what race the girl is if casted into a movie or show, but to just completely deny that people from Germany look differently than people from Sicily 100 years ago is a state of denial. A friend of mine’s mother was at a party and the husband of the host walked over to her and asked her if she was a from a certain area of Poland. Her mother and father were Polish. He guessed accurately from a cross a room.

On one of the other Q’s the depiction of Jesus was brought up. Are we annoyed that Jesus is drawn with very pale skin, blue eyed, and blond, or not? Or, should He be represented in pictures and movies with typical West Asia coloring?

Irukandji's avatar

@JLeslie There have been black people in Europe for as long as there have been white people there. German, Polish, Sicilian, and Swiss are all nationalities. This man is German. So is this woman. And this woman is Swiss. You are equating “German” with “white German,” which is the same thing done by the guy who tried to wipe out all of your European relatives.

Yellowdog's avatar

Depictions of a European Jesus came from artwork produced by people who didn’t know better. If you live in a remote town or city in Europe 150–1000 years ago, far from Palestine, you probably assume everybody in the world looks like you and where you live.

Every European depiction of Jesus I’ve seen are definitely brown haired and browner-than-Caucasian skin anyhow.

rebbel's avatar

@JLeslie ” A friend of mine’s mother was at a party and the husband of the host walked over to her and asked her if she was a from a certain area of Poland. Her mother and father were Polish. He guessed accurately from a cross a room.”
That was either pure luck, or the person asking was aware of something.
To assume, and then ask, someone’s nationality, or birth country, or their ancestry, to me, is a no.
Imagine the reply if the person wasn’t Polish, but instead Austrian, or whatever other nationality.
How could they reply to that?
“Oh, I thought your nose looked typically Polish…”?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Why not? Switzerland is a pretty cosmopolitan nation.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I don’t know that Heidi was Swiss, was she? She just landed in Switzerland.
I think she could be played by a black girl.

kritiper's avatar

Sure Heidi could be a black girl. And the grandfather she goes to live with could be a black guy living off by himself up in the hills. And everybody who watched the film would wonder why this black girl and her black grandfather were living off by themselves up in the hills far away from all the white folks, which isn’t a subject of the story.

JLeslie's avatar

@rebbel We do it all the time in America. I’ve had people ask if I’m Polish (once, by a Polish girl) Latvian (that only once, and that actually is correct my family is mostly from Latvia) Jewish (correct, and I’m constantly asked this) and I get asked if I’m Italian a lot too. We are a country of immigrants, and especially in extremely diverse cities we usually find out where each other’s families are from. Something like 1 in 7 Americans were born outside of the country. It’s a conversation piece to ask where people are from. I just got back from dinner and I asked the new person in our group if he was English or maybe South African from his accent. He’s South African.

The end of the story about my friend’s mom, is the guy took her to his study and pulled a book of the shelf and opened it to a page that had a photo of a woman from the town he referred to. The woman looked just like her mother (my friends grandmother).

I know there are many varied people in Europe, but historically Europe is much more homogenous within a country compared to America, or the Americas in general.

Switzerland obviously has people from many different countries from other parts of Europe, and even within Italy from North to South the regions have different looking people, the north generally being more fair, s d the south more olive complected, but look at a map of diversity and North America is going to win compared to Western and Northern Europe, especially 20 or more years ago. Again, I would make an exception for Switzerland though. In the last 20 years there has been much more migration within and into Europe.

Anyway, I’m just fine with a black Heidi, and I don’t agree with a lot of what @Yellowdog said regarding casting for these parts, but I think we can discuss it with him without telling him to shut the hell up, which is basically what some others said.

Maybe he’ll think about what we have all said. Maybe asking a question is because he’s contemplating it all. I really hate when jellies criticize a question.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll add that I don’t take offense if someone thinks I’m Polish, Italian, Russian, Jewish, Latin American, or go ahead and add in Lesbian, because I don’t think there is anything wrong or bad about being any of those things. You guess me wrong I just tell you what I am. No big deal. I think I do look, act, and my dialect is a typical Eastern European descent, northeastern US Jewish. Although, after Zumba class I often get asked if I’m Latin American. On a Holland America cruise at the disco a Dutch woman asked where my husband and I were from right there on the dance floor. She said twice she never would have guessed we were American.

However, I do acknowledge some people think it’s very rude to ask where someone is from, but most people I know who care are people who either are insecure, or people concerned about others judging them. Like my BIL hates to say he’s Mexican. I find that pretty sad. But, I don’t like to say I’m an atheist, so I guess maybe it’s not much different.

I was at the Spanish-American club here talking to a woman who looked East Asian, my best guess is she’s Chinese. I asked her if she was from Latin American, she thought I was crazy lol. But, I know Asians who are born and live in Latin America, so that doesn’t sound crazy to me at all.

Everyone is everywhere. It’s not so much how the person looks, and it’s rarely about stereotyping (although there are some prejudiced people out there) it’s more about being interested in the other person or finding a connection.

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