The Fairy Princess was feeling pretty good – she was in the Opening Number for the Easter Bonnet Competition for Broadway Cares/EFA – directed by T. Oliver Reed, written by Jed Resnick, and choreographed by Rommy Sandhu.
The number celebrated both the 25th Anniversary of The Will Rogers Follies AND the current Broadway season, which is rife with Diversity. TFP got to ‘play’ with Tony Award Winner, Cady Huffman, After Midnight‘s Carmen Ruby Floyd, and Hamilton’s own David DeGuzman, as well as all the beautiful dancers in cowboy hats, tap shoes, and chaps – it was a blast!
That was this past Monday and Tuesday and you can read all about it in Playbill.com as well as catch photos and the Sweeney Todd sketch by the company of Hamilton that made TFP simply howl with laughter both when she saw the rehearsal and during both performances.
The whole fundraising event raised over 5 Million dollars for one of TFP’s favorite charities, and thus she was filled with the spirit of good intentions – until she read the interview with screenwriter C. Robert Cargill, who worked on the yet to be released, but infamous for it’s whitewashing of The Ancient One character, Dr. Strange.
In the interview, Mr. Cargill says that casting Tilda Swinton was done, in part, to prevent China from boycotting the film, because as the world knows, China is forever trying to annex Tibet from being an independent country. Mr. Cargill said, in a nutshell, that if you consider that Tibet is a real place…
Continuing on…if you consider that Tibet is a real place and try and cast a Tibetan, China will not go, and the studio will lose bajillions and bajillions of dollars. Likewise if they cast a Chinese person as a Tibetan, they would lose…TFP does not know…she tried to find out Tibet’s spending habits in regards to film, but it is not popping up. However, for argument’s sake, let’s say a few million at least.
Thus he and the director had to make the character of The Ancient One a white woman from a Tibetan male.
Thank you so much C. Robert Cargill for your analysis of the situation, but you are talking out of your ass.
Realizing that C. Robert Cargill’s statements were doing more harm than good – plus which, the person they were considering was Ken Watanabe, who is Japanese, and whose casting would not have offended Chinese or Tibetan people (other than in that pesky most Asian countries have a bad history with Japan kind of way) Marvel has ventured into the whitewashing fray and released a few statements of their own, to try and contain the poop volcano that seems to be spraying them every time one of their people tries to ‘defend’ this casting.
Also, Marvel made Cargill apologize:
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but none that I regret as much as choosing to answer a question to which I had no place in speaking. I tried to make it right by clarifying my position on Twitter Monday but unfortunately — perhaps ironically, given that this story gained so much steam on social media — those comments were not picked up by those reporting on my statements from the original podcast. Those original statements were my own personal musings about a character, and although I worked on the film script, I came to the project after the first draft and was not part of any casting discussions or decisions so I had no right or knowledge to speak about them as if I was. It was a moronic decision, and worst of all, I embarrassed my friends and colleagues by coming across as if I were speaking for them. I was not.
(Benedict Cumberbatch has wisely not commented, he is shoring up his good PR by doing fun Shakespeare videos with Prince Charles- wise man.)
Here is what Marvel is now asking us all to believe – that the part of The Ancient One was so rife with racism, that they could not even deal with having an Asian play an Asian – no, they had to protect us all from seeing ourselves playing ourselves – so they CHANGED The Ancient One‘s origins.
The Ancient One now is a revolving title that somehow gets passed along and in this case, has been passed to a bald Tilda Swinton in silk pajamas, because…wait for it, the NEW AND IMPROVED ANCIENT ONE IS….
Wait for it…
Marvel has a very strong record of diversity in its casting of films and regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life. The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic. We are very proud to have the enormously talented Tilda Swinton portray this unique and complex character alongside our richly diverse cast.
Well, now TFP has to, just HAS to say something because…TFP is Asian and…wait for it – IRISH.
So now, as an Irishwoman, TFP has to brave these stupid Marvel-less waters and protest on behalf of the erasure of Celtic tradition.
Let’s go to the photo of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One…
First thing one notices is of course, the baldness.
One problem – Ancient Celtic women would not have shaved their heads. It was a cold climate for one, and long hair kept one warmer than not, but also, charms and spells of protection could be woven into hair – hair was sacred.
NO ANCIENT CELT WOULD SHAVE THEIR HEAD.
Perhaps you were as unaware of Ancient Celtic Female Warriors as Marvel is.
They may have looked a bit like Keira Knightly’s character in King Arthur in 2004, when they depicted Guinevere. Perhaps less sexy. Perhaps more.
Or take a look at the largest legendary Warrior Queen, Boudica as played by Alex Kingston,
Is one getting the overall picture of what an Ancient Celt would look like? Long hair? Leather? Iron weapons? Tatoos? Possibly blue body paint? Probably used furs for warmth and some kind of homespun for clothes. Cloaks?
Any of that on Ancient Tilda Swinton?
Then there are the adornments. Now, as most Asian people will tell you – at the time of The Ancient One‘s original origin story – the valuable jewelry would be made of jade in varying shades, ivory (which is why we will probably have no elephants left by the time TFP‘s son grows to an adult), gold, precious or semi-precious stones, and a variety of perfumed woods.
We have all seen images of Tibetan monks and so on with prayer beads, or necklaces of some sort – no one is immune from the status of adornment.We would expect to see some sort of adornment, because Tibetan traditions include wearing forms of wealth- and again, even religious people have items that have meaning, though they might not be made from precious metals.
If the new Ancient One is Celtic – there should be a variety of adornments made of silver or gold – armbands, torques, bracelets, amulets, pins, necklaces – in Ancient times, they were supposed to protect the wearer. One did not go to battle without them, one’s status was seen immediately when one wore them. People were buried with them, so the Gods would recognize their status in the afterlife.
TFP failed to notice any armbands, torques, bracelets or anything Celtic adorning Ancient Tilda Swinton.
Now, it is all very well to try and whitesplain your way out of a bad casting choice –
TFP fully expected something of this sort. However, with this new explanation, Marvel is taking the offense to a whole new level!
Now they have TFP‘s Irish up!
First they co-opted Tibet, then they took the Asian face out of Tibet, then they took the contribution of Tibet away, but kept the location of Tibet, and then they put a Scottish heritaged person in there and arbitrarily announced the character was now an Ancient Celt, but stripped the character of any of the defining looks or accompanying symbols of being an Ancient Celt!
Is anyone else exhausted?
Tilda Swinton said that when she was approached, it was not to play an Asian character. Ok Tilda, we’ll play along then, given this new information – but here is the thing – you let them whitewash the Celtic out of the character!
They whitewashed the Celtic out of the character of ‘The Ancient One Who Is No Longer Tibetan But Celtic’ and Tilda Swinton let them! Tilda and whoever the Costume Designer was – guess they did not get the ‘switch it to Celtic‘ memo, they were still in the Asian-adjacent train of thought.
This is actually hilarious. TFP thought she was annoyed about this as an Asian American – guess what? She’s more frustrated as a person of Celtic descent!
Oh Marvel – you have made this explanation crazier than a rat in a coffee can and all TFP can think is….
Marvel – you cannot just announce that you are co-opting yet ANOTHER culture in this mess of a film and expect us all to buy it – or buy a ticket!
Ancient Celts were actual people with long history of creativity, warrior tradition, they had a culture, they had music, laws – they are not a get out of jail free card to be thrown into this mess of a miscasting.
Trying to excuse the casting with this explanation dishonors two traditions – Tibetan and Celtic. Let’s clarify in case you still have not gotten it – you got it wrong, TWICE.
TFP cannot EVEN!
OMG this is amusing beyond all reasonable measure!
See you all next week when The Ancient One somehow becomes Incan.