Here’s the first thing Disney and Jack Whitehall need to do over this “straight actor cast as gay character” row: not apologize.
Then, the next thing they both need to do is never, ever, ever apologize.
And not back down either.
Otherwise what’s left of Disney’s credibility as an entertainment industry player will be toast. So too will all that hard work Whitehall has put in in the last couple of years trying to make the big break from popular English stand up comedian to major Hollywood movie star.
So too will the entire point of the acting profession.
Actors, let’s be honest, aren’t generally good for much. All they basically do is pretend to be other people, usually reading out lines that cleverer people have written for them – and get paid lots of money for it.
But if it’s no longer politically acceptable for them to play anyone other than themselves, then where’s the skill? Where’s the value-added that justifies all those inflated pay checks? There isn’t any. Which means that apart from that tiny minority of actors who are loved for only ever being themselves – Clint; Michael Caine; Joey from Friends – the entire acting profession is going to die on its feet.
Some might say: “Good riddance! They’re all stupid leftists. They helped promote this more-virtuous-than-thou identity-politics craziness whereby actors are no longer permitted to take roles outside their ethnic or sexual group. Let them now reap the whirlwind of their own political correctness and stupidity.”
As a vengeful, righteous culture warrior, I totally agree with this point of view.
As a moviegoer, though, I still cleave to the old-fashioned view that in the – extremely unlikely, but still – event I ever went to see a movie about a trans person, I’d rather see that trans person played by a hot, sexy, non-trans talent like Scarlett Johansson than I would see them played by some second-rater who’d only been chosen because they’d had their bits surgically removed.
Same with gay characters like the one Jack Whitehall is playing in this new Disney movie The Jungle Cruise.
I’m not suggesting that there are no actors out there who are gay and talented. (I know all Hollywood leads, Tom Cruise and the rest, are all rampantly heterosexual. But I’m sure, were a casting agent to look hard enough it would be possible to find at least a handful of actors of a homosexual persuasion…)
What I am very much suggesting is that when it comes to playing gay, there aren’t many – if any – gay actors who would nearly do such a good job as Jack Whitehall.
Like a lot of privately educated English posh boys, Whitehall is so camp he might just as well be gay.
Also, he happens to be an exceptionally talented light comic actor. Last year he starred as Paul Pennyfeather in an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. He was brilliant in what was probably the best Waugh adaptation I’ve ever seen.
If this politically correct casting nonsense is allowed to continue, where will it end?
Will actors playing madmen have to demonstrate they are mentally ill?
Will the next Superman be required to prove he can fly?
And where, exactly, does the casting of Hamilton fit into this brave new world where actors have to share the sexual and racial characteristics of the people they play?
Also, who are these freaks, nonentities, malcontents, virtue-signallers, cry bullies, attention-seekers, C-listers and professional victims pushing for this stuff?
Are they in any way representative of how most people feel on this subject – or are they merely a shrill minority who’ve been given far, far too much attention by once-respectable newspapers like the London Times, which frankly should know better?
One of these protestors, I notice, is getting attention because his granddad was a famous actor:
— Omar Sharif Jr. (@OmarSharifJr) August 13, 2018
Hmm. Perhaps Omar Jr is trying to make amends for the fact that his grandfather once starred in a hateful, racist atrocity called Lawrence of Arabia in which the Saudi leader Prince Feisal was played not by an Arab but by the impeccably British actor Alec Guinness in brownface.
Or is he perhaps concerned about another of his grandfather’s race crimes – this time, the awkward fact that in Dr Zhivago he played a Russian, despite the fact that he was of Syrian/Egyptian heritage.
It’s all very silly. One person who would certainly have had no truck with it is the great Laurence Olivier who, famously, delivered a waspish put-down to Dustin Hoffman when he caught him using the “Method” on the set of the Seventies thriller Marathon Man.
Because he was playing a character who had stayed up for three nights Hoffman – or so the story goes – had decided to go without sleep for 72 hours as well. Olivier, a thespian of the old school, was not impressed.
“Why don’t you just try acting?” he said.
Not, of course, that Olivier would have landed the role if they filmed the movie today.
The casting director would not have been satisfied till they’d tracked down an actual Nazi doctor.