Thursday, May 18, 2006

In Which I Question The White Hollywood Machine

Ok. I wasn't sure if I ought to post this in "Congrats" or here. It's not really anyone being an asshole- it's more so a face-into-palm, you-can't-be-thinking-clearly situation.

Looking for creative ways to waste my time, I played this game a few days ago. I'm not promoting the game- it's a Nickelodeon game, who apparently think kids are too stupid to do more than play one level, so they made essentially the same level with ten different themes. The thing is, it's based on their new show, "Genie on the House", which I couldn't find much internet information about. Why was I looking up a kid's show no one (my age, at least) has yet heard of? Because I care.

If you clink that link, you'll be greeted with this image:

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Now, you may be wondering why "Adil" looks like someone photoshopped his face to match his shirt. If you look at his hand, it's not hard to tell that his skin has been tampered with. This was not the image that appeared when I first played the game. You can see what the kid is supposed to look like in this tiny picture, the only one that comes up when you search for "Genie in the House":

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It seems someone has painted the young white actor playing the genie a light brown. I guess this only struck them as insensitive a few days after they released an online game about it. I was hoping, in vain, that it was his natural skin tone, and only looked like brownface due to lighting or something. The touch-up just added to my worries. They can filter out their bad idea on the internet, but what are they going to do with the show? Digitally edit every scene? Claim it's a natural tan?

Look, if you're going to do a kid's show about genies- and first of all, why are you doing a kid's show about genies? As if genies haven't been done a million times, there's already a popular show on Nickelodeon about kids getting wishes.

Now let's pretend having a show with a genie is still an original idea. Why oh why would one put a teen actor into that puffy, creepy, old-timey, stereotypical genie outfit? Thankfully they omitted the typical pointy ears and bizarre ponytail, why not just totally westernize him and throw him in jeans and a t-shirt? You could give him wild green hair or something to identify him as "supernatural".

Of course, most importantly, if you're really committed to that classic Western image of the ornately dressed Arabian genie, why not get an actor of Middle Eastern descent? They do exist, and would probably be delighted to get a role on a widely viewed television station. If you've been watching TV lately (or, well, ever) you might noticed the dearth of Middle Eastern (and Indian, and Asian, and Native American, and etcetera) performers in major roles. Unless, of course, they did try that, and every single kid walked out in horror when introduced to the creepy outdated genie costume he would have to wear. So they hired a white teen actor, and by paint or by lamps, changed his skin. I guess the minds at Nickelodeon thought kids are also too stupid to tell the difference.

edit: Genius as I am, I neglected to click the "Nick" logo above the game and figure out that this is currently only airing in the UK. I'm no less worried- aren't they supposed to be smarter than us?