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Rooney Mara's Tiger Lily: The Girl With the Meaningless Tribal Tattoo

By Vivian Kane | Trade News | March 14, 2014 | Comments ()


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There are few stories I love more than Peter Pan. The book, the play, the cartoon, Hook, Jason Isaacs making me feel so confused in my thoughts surrounding father figures, — it doesn’t matter, I’ll take it. So the Warner Bros’ origin story, Pan, that’s been slowly gaining steam has been something to look forward to. First we learned that the movie will be directed by Joe Wright, who did Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, and Hanna. Then they cast Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard (a twist!), followed by Garrett Hedlund as a young, sexy Captain (pre)Hook.
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Captain Hook-Up is more like it, ammiright?

But this week things took a turn for the whatthef*ck. Meet your Native Princess, Tiger Lily:
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That’s right, the fringe-loving, face-painted princess will be played by Rooney Mara.

Look guys, we go through this every time Halloween rolls around, or M. Night Shyamalan ruins something, or someone decides “Hey, I want to make something about Native Americans but don’t want to go to the trouble of casting or even talking to any.” The Neverland natives are already super problematic characters (to understate it), and have been since JM Barrie first depicted them as violent savages. Is casting a white actress to play their heroine supposed to make those offensive stereotypes easier to watch? Did no one at Warner Bros. predict outrage? Or was it just that no one cared?


There is one way that this could potentially, maybe, play out alright. Perhaps this adaptation will change what it means to be a native of Neverland. Maybe they’re not Native Americans as we know them. After all, Neverland is a fictional land, and nowhere near America. (It’s in space, obviously. Unless that “second star to the right and straight on till morning” bit is a metaphor or a state of mind or something but whatever, I choose to believe SPACE.) And according to what we’ve heard so far,

Wright is planning to create a world that very international and multi-racial, effectively challenging audiences’ preconceived notions of Neverland and reimagining the environment.

Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that all three casting announcements so far have been pretty singular-racial, and focus on the hope that the native population of Neverland could be something new. Like they’re Neverland’s Others and Peter Pan is John Locke. Which would be great because the version we’re used to seeing is pretty terrible already, even before you cast white actors in those roles.

I really hope Wright goes in a new direction. Because I swear, if Rooney Mara walks out of a teepee in a goddamn feather headdress, whatever theater I see this in is going to witness a rage-induced popcornsplosion.

Via The Mary Sue.

Vivian Kane really wanted to play Tiger Lily when she was 10 years old, but was cast as a Lost Boy instead so she dropped out. Take that, cultural appropriation!




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • oui

    Lupita for Tinkerbell, please?

  • Lilith Square

    I'm really sorry, Vivian, but I hate that goddam Peter Pan. I hated it when I was a kid and realized that Wendy's role in this magical fantasy world was to babysit a bunch of brats for free. 'Cause that's what I do in my daydreams, cook snacks, read stories, and wash pajamas.

    Peter Pan doesn't remind me of the magic of childhood, he reminds me of the jerk who used to torment me on the bus. Peter is a psychopath.

    My Illustrious Spouse also hates Peter Pan. Our Minions love Jake and the Neverland Pirates, which is kind of OK, because Jake, Izzy, and Cubby aren't so bad, and the I.S. and I can root for Captain Hook. We love the first half of the movie "Return to Neverland," because Wendy's daughter Jane, finally decks Peter, that sonofabitch, like he so richly deserves.

    We both also think Tom Sawyer is an asshole, but that's another story.

  • Naye

    Laaattee, but my daughter like Jake and the Neverland Pirates, but I find too many episodes that feature Jake make Izzy and Cubby pretty second rate. i get that Jake is the leader, but cmon look who his friends are...Isn't Disney being a bit obvious with this one?

  • vivkane

    It's funny, Peter is by far my least favorite part of 'Peter Pan'. Especially in the book, he is such a goddamn asshole. He has the attention span of a lab rat and the ego of a Greek god. But the story and the world still hold a special place for me. I guess I'm a sucker or a softie or some damn thing.

    And Tom Sawyer is definitely the worst. Just paint the stupid fence already.

  • Teresa Sadler

    Johnny Depp - Tonto, my native friend loved, she's a big JD fan. I thought it was ridiculous. However, Jason Mamoa in The Red Road, she was upset because he was not the right kind of native. Anyway, does somebody have to have the correct ethnic background to match/play a character? Sometimes we don't notice. And nobody will say anything. Take Asian characters for example. Korean can play Chinese, etc. We are often very easy on Asian roles. And what about movies like 300? And then "white" roles are usually all fine as long as they get the appropriate accent correct. Should Alexander Skaarsgard or Mads Mikkelson not be playing Americans? I would love to see a more international presence in our media. And then there is the "token" character issue. But there is language/accent training, cultural and behavioral training, etc. If an actor has to change their natural way of speaking ~ a lower class accent to upper class or vice versa ~ what does that say? Or you "age" a younger actor. Why not more roles for older actors? Or disabled? Or unattractive. Charlize Theron in Monster? Trailer Park Boys, and American Horror Story had actors who had Downs Syndrome (? double check) But, Abed in Community is played by a guy who doesn't have autism. We often give kudos for actors who can make amazing transformations in their work. Just saying,...

  • Teresa Sadler

    What if Rashida Jones played Tiger Lily? Mila Kunis? Rachel Bilson? How would we react? Actually, I'm really not up-to-date on the young actor crowd. What would the call look like? Are we looking for a youngish-looking, light brownish female who can do pouty-fierce? Man. What a crazy industry.

  • BlackRabbit

    Actually, is there a Native American actress they could cast? I'm really curious.

  • Johnnie Jae

    there are tons of Native Actressess who could of have stepped into the role of Tigerlily, however the casting isn't the only issue as the character of Tigerlily is an extremely damaging and stereotypical depiction of natives women. They would need to revamp her whole character or take out tigerlily and picaninnies all together.

  • Yocean

    The girl who played Pocahontas in The New World is available. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm045...

  • James

    Can we stop using words like problematic and actually state the reasons why the characters are, I'm guessing, racist in this case?

    Problematic means "this offends me but I can't put it into words or don't want to put it into words for fear of being proven wrong."

  • Mrs. Julien

    Profoundly racist. We threw out the Peter Pan DVD we were given for our son. We watched and realised we couldn't watch it again and that we didn't want to donate it because then someone else might watch it.

    It's not exactly strong on women either.

  • Ozioma

    Friendly reminder that when Quvenzhané Wallis was cast to play Annie in the remake, people - almost universally white - were up in arms going about how 'OMG she's supposed to be a redhead' (as if black people with red hair don't exist) and how it ruins the 'purity' of the character if a black girl plays the role. Because black kids are somehow less pure than white kids, and that's the kind of shit that leads to them getting gunned down for playing music too loud or walking in the wrong neighbourhood at night.

    Just putting that out there for when the inevitable 'They chose the best actress for this role, don't bring race into this' posts start coming in to defend this insensitive at best casting choice.

  • stella

    Or remember wen The Hunger Games came out and people lacking reading comprehension skills were upset that Rue was played by a black girl?

  • Berry

    That was weird, because the first time still picture of Amandla Stenberg on set in character as Rue, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she looked perfect for the part: small, sweet, cute, innocent. But apparently for some people, innocent only equals blond children which is upsetting and worrying on a number of levels.

  • nobcarajo100

    What's the difference between this and, say, Michael B. Jordan playing the human torch?

  • Billybob

    ... You know, I had a TL;DR explanation typed out about how Stan Lee's default character template was Generic White Male, while Tiger Lilly was created to be the "other", but then I realised it could be boiled down to one sentence.

    Michael B Jordan isn't going to be playing the Human Torch in whiteface.

  • nobcarajo100

    What makes you think that Mara is going to play this character in "nativeface" or whatever

  • Billybob

    The whole post you just commented on is asking the question of whether she will or not. Did you read it before commenting?

  • nobcarajo100

    Yes, so why are people already mad if they don't know how this will turn out

  • Yocean

    Difference is...Caucasian actors and characters are never ever marginalized and there are always Abundance of roles for them whereas the opposite is so not the case. So shut your reverse racism touting pie hole before I get more angry.

  • I was with you right up until the last sentence. 'Shut up before I get angry'? Really? And then what happens, you turn into Internet Hulk and we get to see ALL CAPS RAGE? Go ahead and do that, I'm sure it will make a fundamental difference in how Anonymous Internet Stranger approaches the world.

  • Yocean

    What? Am I not allowed to express my righteous anger? I was containing it as it was. It's enraging enough that someone would still ask such question (which was an exemplary reverse racism upholding behavior), now whatever I say is invalid if I show anger at something that I find pretty offensive? Passion, man, got it?

  • There's been a recent rash of people apparently thinking that 'you know, you might be over-reacting just a tetch' = 'you're not allowed to show any emotion whatsoever.' For the record, that's not what it means.

    As for the rest, if you get enraged every time someone says something stupid on the Internet, you're going to work yourself into a stroke in pretty short order. I'm sure Anonymous Internet Stranger appreciates you restraining yourself initially, though. After all, who knows what sort of apocalyptic calamity he might have found himself faced with had he been forced to bear the full brunt of your righteous wrath?

  • Yocean

    I'm a writer sir, expressing my opinion is how I live.

    As for the rest: text is notoriously hard to read the tone from, lacking so much information.

    I did try to inject some humor to it by that last "problematic" sentence but seems it has not gone through for you (which is subjective), probably owing to the above fact.

    To protect myself from exploding, I write, among other things I care not to mention for fear of embarrassment, and I usually just resort to ignoring at some point. Because I won't repeat myself.

    Also, as for whatever speculation you have of my righteous wrath or emotional state? a) You don't wanna know. b) I am gonna skipping beg to differ and go ahead and agree to disagree.

    Adieu.

  • nobcarajo100

    "So shut your reverse racism touting pie hole" Nice

  • pfeiffer87

    dude, please don't go there

  • Bob Genghis Khan

    Stupendous. We all know how well it went last time a notorious white actor played a Native American.

  • Billybob

    Kevin Costner won an Academy Award?

    Seriously, I'm trying to think who you are referring to, but there are way too many options. Are you thinking of William Shatner? It's William Shatner, isn't it?

  • Berry

    It's he who needs to reconsider the scarves already, also known as Johny Depp. I think.

  • Bob Genghis Khan

    Ding ding ding.

  • googergieger

    RUFIO!RUFIO!RUFIO!RUFIO!RUFIO!

  • PooPooNumber2

    rooney makes me swooney

  • Cheetahdriver

    I will admit that while I have seen and enjoyed most of the various movies, cartoons and such of Peter Pan, I have never read the book. It is a prime example again of movies being the death of books, who has read the rest of the Oz books (or even know that more than 1 exist). Going past my movie/book rant, this looks like a disaster coming down the track even without the casting issues. It looks like another "Last Airbender" in the making, and they had a good story AND the movie already storyboarded out in successful form.

  • I have read all the Oz books, which start to get pretty repetitive, but I was a kid and they were in my dad's library, and the occasional illustration was cool, so those were my rainy day books.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Since the Oz books are kooky but not actually very good, no big loss there

  • Cheetahdriver

    Then the Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, 30 Years After, and a host of others. Gone With the Wind even.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Oh, people still definitely read those.

  • hoppergrass

    There's a Thirty Years After movie?!?? I have no idea why this excites me, since the Musketeer series is my all-time favorite and I've never yet seen a good adaptation, but.... there's a movie?!??!

  • Cheetahdriver

    "The Return of the Three Musketeers" 1989 directed by Richard Lester, based loosely on "20 Years After" (ok, I got the time wrong, at least I didn't have Pohl writing the Beserker series...). Has the cast from the 1973-74 Three and Four Musketeer Movies + Kim Cattrall as Justine de Winter. Was also the movie that Roy Kinnear died while filming after a horse riding accident.

  • Yocean

    It was the play first and foremost actually. Other than that, completely agreed.

  • Yocean

    I will be pissed either way. Muti-racial is the word Hollywood uses when they want to cast white actors for the lead characters that are supposed to be/traditionally ethnic. How ass-fucking-backward of them. No fucking way this will stand. I did not see Last Air Bender despite of, scratch that, BECAUSE of loving the source. I do not need to see Peter Pan bleached out more.

  • Multiracial in Hollywood = All the big, meaty roles will be played by Anglos, a few secondary characters will be African-American, there'll be one token Asian guy and Latin girl and they'll hope to land Wes Studi to play a wise old Native shaman.

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