Becky Riordan, the wife of Percy Jackson & the Olympians creator Rick Riordan and the producer on the upcoming Percy Jackson and the Olympians Disney+ series, recently shared an absolute bogus excuse as to why she and Disney chose to race replace Annabeth Chase.
In a now-deleted tweet transcribed by The-Direct, Riordan first asserted that readers of Percy Jackson & the Olympians are spreading hate.
She tweeted, “Rick [Riordan] and I were feeling very sad today because there are people continuing to use his books to justify spreading hate. It helps though to think about all you true blue fans that are respectful and supportive of each other and our cast. We couldn’t be making this show without you.”
In a follow-up, she was asked, “Not sure why AnnaBeth has to be someone of color. She isn’t that at all in the books. Disney turns a lot of female characters people of color these days. Whatever happened to the days of Bridge to Teribithia for example? Not mad, but disappointed. Miss the old Disney.”
Riordan responded, “Does it help to know that when those characters where created in 2002 the expectation in publishing was a white default? Annabeth’s perceived whiteness in the books is a default. Skin color or hair color is not meaningful to their character.”
Riordan then wrote, “One of the reasons I love this fandom so much is because they could see beyond the mainstream expectations and see themselves. The character belong to all of the fans not just the white fans.”
Riordan’s claim that Annabeth’s perceived whiteness in the books is a default is a straight up lie. In The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan describes Annabeth, “The last thing I remember is collapsing on a wooden porch, looking up at a ceiling fan circling above me, moths flying around a yellow light, and the stern faces of a familiar-looking bearded man and a pretty girl, her blond hair curled like a princess’s. They both looked down at me and the girl said, ‘He’s the one. He must be.’ ‘Silence, Annabeth,’ the man said. ‘He’s still conscious. Bring him inside.'”
Later in the novel, Riordan wrote, “She was probably my age, maybe a couple of inches taller, and a whole lot more athletic looking. With her deep tan and her curly blond hair, she was almost exactly what I thought a stereotypical California girl would look like, except her eyes ruined the image. They were startling gray, like storm clouds; pretty, but intimidating, too, as if she were analyzing the best way to take me down in a fight.”
In an official graphic novel adaptation of the book, Annabeth is also depicted as a white girl with blonde hair.
Riordan’s website also pictures Chase as a white girl with blonde hair. It also points out that she’s the daughter of the Greek goddess Athena.
As for her skin color and hair color being meaningful to the character, it clearly was for Rick Riordan at one point otherwise he wouldn’t have described her as such and allowed artists to depict her as such.
And regardless, they are meaningful to the character because that is indeed how she was written and created.
As for Riordan’s final tweet about the character belonging to all the fans, was that in question? Did the character not belong to all the fans beforehand? Was she only intended to belong to “white fans” beforehand?
By race replacing the character with Leah Sava Jeffries does she now only belong to black fans of the series? Does Becky Riordan realize how racist she sounds?
Ironically, The Witcher casting director Sophie Holland recently confirmed all of the race replacements that she’s made on the various Netflix shows she’s worked for have been done for ideological purposes.
Holland first detailed how she knows how she can affect people by race replacing characters, “You can affect change in whatever tiny way because you are in people’s homes and they’re watching this world. And that sort of solidified when I had a child, she’s five now, and I thought how hard it is to be a girl.”
She elaborated, “I remember thinking I have to help her because she’s going to come under attack, just like I did, just because she’s a girl,” Holland elaborated. “Maybe she’ll be lucky and get to nine before somebody calls her a b***h. And it made me so sad that she was going to experience that and I couldn’t protect her from that.”
“But what I could do is change the way people see women through casting. I can make them powerful and empowering and then the floodgates will open to them,” Holland asserted.
She then revealed she does this for every show she works on, “I do apply this theory to everything and it makes me push boundaries a little harder because I think representation is important. Not just for women, but all minority groups.”
“Like, people have different physical abilities and I think it’s important they’re seen in strong and fierce roles. Realizing this was a real moment of falling in love with my craft in a way that feels very specific to me,” she said.
Holland went on to specifically explain why she chose to race-replace Yennefer in The Witcher, “I am always the first to champion diversity in all its glory. One that springs to mind was the character of Yennefer on The Witcher. Lauren Schmidt Hissrich is the showrunner and we work so well together and she’s so open to conversations.”
“In the book, she’s described as the most beautiful woman in the world. This was a few years ago and I’d like to think things have changed. But when you think about people’s unconscious bias – especially in the fantasy world, it felt like these worlds were predominantly white. And I remember saying, ‘I feel like we need to challenge what people think of as the standard of beauty. And having a woman of color in this role does incredibly powerful things to the people watching,” she admitted.
Given the heavy emphasis on woke ideology in the casting process, the adaptation will likely feature a ton of it as well and what was once an interesting book of novels providing a unique twist on Greek mythology will be discarded as quickly as Willow.
And once it goes the way of Willow, Becky Riordan will more than likely be the first in line to try and blame racism, it’s the Disney way after all.
What do you make of Becky Riordan’s reasoning for why Annabeth Chase was race-replaced?