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.
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:
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!