The Mary Sue’s Kaila Hale-Stern openly promoted racism in a recent article calling for The Princess Bride film to be remade.
Hale-Stern’s headline blares, “The Only Reason to Remake The Princess Bride Would Be to Gender-Swap and Diversify It.” Her article doubles down on the headline, “As far as I can see, there’s no call whatsoever for a Princess Bride do-over unless the studio intends to radically change up the characters’ dynamic and hugely diversify the cast.”
By diversify she means replace the white characters and actors. And she makes it very clear that’s what she means:
“The only Princess Bride remake I’d accept is if the intent is to dramatically alter its current form. First of all, the original movie is painfully, blindingly white. This would need to be the first element upgraded for the 21st century. There’s no reason why any character in a new Princess Bride couldn’t be a person of color, and a fantastically diverse cast would be excellent to see. Especially for the heroic Westley. I’m already picturing John Boyega and you can’t stop me.”
In fact Hale-Stern declares that every single character “could benefit from a diversity of casting.” She does make exceptions for Miracle Max and Valerie explaining, “because any studio that did not bring back living legends Billy Crystal and Carol Kane to those roles does not deserve to be making movies.” (Related: Do the Races of X-Men Characters Magneto and Professor X Need To Be Changed for the MCU?)
I’m going to call this what it is. Racism. This is the promotion of prejudice, discrimination, and antagonism directed against white actors and characters based on the belief that diversity casting of other characters is superior.
Not only is it racist in the sense that it believes non-white actors and characters are superior to white actors and characters, but it’s racist by tokenizing characters. The idea that non-white actors are only fit to play roles previously portrayed by white actors or characters that were originally created as white. It belittles non-white characters and actors with the belief that they can not stand on their own and have to rely on an intellectual property that was made famous with white actors and characters.
Eric July provides a succinct definition of tokenization. (Related: Eric July: “The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a F****** Joke When it Comes to this Diversity Bullshit”)
“And then you have, the one I speak about the most, and a classicly white character gets turned into a black character be it a copy of him in the comic like a Miles Morales, which is just a tokenized Spider-Man, or crossing into live-action. So you have a classically white character in the comics, but when they depict them in live-action they are black.”
July details how insulting it is when discussing Disney and Marvel Studios’ current practices, “It’s insulting! It’s f****** insulting when you consider that. Just think about it. I know most of you all have never thought about it like that. Damn! They keep championing this diversity and inclusiveness. The black characters that they bring in are not original.”
However, Kaila Hale-Stern doesn’t just promote racism, she also promotes sexism. She writes, “But what would further permit the idea of a new Princess Bride for a new century to take root in my head is if many of the roles are gender-swapped.” She adds, “Again, this could be done with all of the primary characters without losing their overarching storylines.” She specifically wants Buttercup and Westly gender-swapped, “So the simplest fix to shake up the entire Princess Bride dynamic is to make Westley a woman and Buttercup a man.”
This is most definitely sexist. As my colleague Jorge Arenas explains why gender-swapping in general is sexist, “It pretends that the sexes aren’t unique and are interchangeable. It completely negates the contributions and struggles of each.”
Not only is gender-swapping in general sexist, but it also tokenizes the characters as well. You are playing a female version of a male character. It’s not a unique character that can stand on its own. It’s a rip-off that has no standing outside the original it stole from.
Kaila Hale-Stern attempts to shrug off her racist and sexist call to race-swap and gender-swap The Princess Bride writing, “The Princess Bride isn’t perfect, but it’s plenty wonderful, and it’s set down like a sacred text that doesn’t need to be altered or resurrected.” Yea. Have a laugh at that line after spewing inordinate amounts of racism and sexism.