In case you missed the rather glum-making news: it's been newly announced that Rooney Mara has been cast as Tiger Lily, the classic problematic representation of Native Americans as written down by an Edwardian Brit, in Joe Wright's new movie Pan. Details are still fuzzy, but the impression one gets is that it's an attempt to bring the dark-and-gritty approach to the Peter Pan story (an it's an origin story, too!), which isn't the first place I'd have expected the director of Atonement and Anna Karenina to go.
But let's not lose sight of the main thrust, which is that Rooney Mara is playing a Native American princess. Whitewashing in the casting process isn't a new problem, but I can't remember the last time it happened this vividly (it even makes thing worse, on a number of levels, to find that Mara apparently beat Lupita Nyong'o for the part). The filmmakers have indicated that they're creating a deliberately "multi-racial/international" take one the material, but with Mara joining Hugh Jackman and Garrett Hedlund as the confirmed cast members so far, one wonders if the PR flack who put that sound-bite out there is still living, what with his pants having erupted into flames and all.
The internet, including the Film Experience, has been busily discussing the issue of casting able-bodied persons as disabled characters these past few days; it's a conversation that needs to happen, but it's galling to step back and realise that we haven't even finished fighting the easy representational battles yet.