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Things We Saw Today

Things We Saw Today: Adorable Sketches From the Set of The Hobbit


io9 got a whole set visit for The Hobbit, the lucky ducks, and while the text may be a little spoilery for some folks, the sketches (since they weren’t allowed to take pictures or video) are super cute. In other Hobbit news, the first movie is reportedly clocking in at about two hours and forty minutes long. (io9)

The HBO store has all the gear you need for that True Blood Halloween party. (Click to embiggen.)

According to reviews, this kid-sized inflatable Boba Fett backpack isn’t very sturdy. But at less than $10, it might do for a night. (TDWGeek)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    I have to really disagree with the Cloud Atlas article. There are about a dozen actors that have a role in the 6 different stories. The stories take place in different times and geographical locations so it’s understandable that with what they are trying to do, there will be actors playing a variety of races. It’s not just white actors playing Asian actors but the other way around and other switches as well.

    Halle Berry plays a white woman in one of the stories. I saw an interesting interview with her where someone asked her if she’d ever worn a dress like one she puts on in the movie – and then they both realize that no, she had not because for her to play a period role, she would have probably been playing a slave or someone in a civil rights movement. It was such an interesting realization that this was a way for them to cross historical boundaries and do something really unique.

  • http://twitter.com/DJRM01 DJRM

    Yes, the things you said.

  • Anonymous

    They do have a point in that the Korean makeup jobs seem pretty badly done, but they seem to have missed that Jim Sturges’s character is not the main character in that story line, Doona Bae’s is. If they stay true to the book then he doesn’t even come in to it until about half way through.

  • Anonymous

    It’s very sad to see that with the few Asian actors working in Hollywood, they pulled some crap like this. If it’s really about some attempt to “transcend race” they could have still cast Asian actors and had them play the white versions of their characters as well, just like they cast Halle Berry and not some white lady decked out in blackface.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    It would’ve been more unique if they had gone the book route and connected each actor through a birthmark instead of dunking them in shitty make-up.

  • Terence Ng

    I’m not sure what Jim Sturgess’s character’s screen time has to do with the issue of yellowface. Would it be less yellowface if he was on-screen for 20 minutes instead of 60?

    Sturgess isn’t the only one either. Cloud Atlas’s website also displays images of other actors in their “Asian” roles.

    Separate from your comment, I still don’t understand why they needed to race-swap multiple actors when the source material identifies each character in their new incarnation by their birthmarks. Were there so few actors of color with equivalent talent, as we’ve been led to believe every time a story gets whitewashed in film (RE: Last Airbender, 21, etc.)?

  • Anonymous

    They actually did get Asian actors to play multiple roles as well. Doona Bae is listed on IMDB as playing as Mexican woman in addition to several other roles.

  • http://twitter.com/JayKingOfGay Jay, King of Gay

    Are the birthmarks on their faces or a prominent place, so that they would be easily seen in every time period? Or do we have to make an excuse for someone to lift their shirt or something?

    When visual media uses the same actor to play several roles in a show or movie, it visually establishes a continuity that’s very easy for an audience to grasp. It’s a visual shorthand, whereas multiple people with the same mark –that could mean a lot of things. Same tribe, same family, same person, twins, clones, etc. Then you have to decide if you want to establish a base character and have all of the actors of the same mark play the same vocal qualities, the same mannerisms, patterns of speech to help establish a link. That also means you have to hire more actors, and if you want stars, that means you have to pay more money. Tom Hanks is expensive, it makes more sense to have him in more of the movie(playing more roles) if you’re going to be paying his huge salary anyway.
    I haven’t read the book, haven’t seen the movie, but from what I’m seeing, with a core set of actors playing multiple roles of multiple ethnicities there’s pretty much no way to do this movie without offending someone or having a gigantic cast that might confuse people. Was this the best way to do it? I have no idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    I believe they’re on their shoulders, so not necessarily easy to spot.

    You worded what I wanted to say much better. That’s exactly the point – that these stories are all connected and it’s an easy way to show this concept.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Because there are 6 different stories that take place in 6 different geographic locations in 6 different times. If they wanted to be true to each one and only hire actors of that race, they would have needed 6 times as many actors and the sense that all of these characters are connected through reincarnation would be lost. The race swapping goes many ways because they found an ensemble of talented actors to play these roles and adapted them to fit the parts. It’s not just “yellow face” but also “white face” and even having Doona Bae play a Mexican woman. You make it sound like they didn’t hire any characters from other races but they have 3 black actors, 2 Asian actresses… they’re not white washing anything. They’re adapting a very talented cast into the roles defined by the novel.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    In order to pull that off, they would have had to hire 6x as many actors. It’s not like the Korean story is the whole movie, it is 1/6 of it. 2-3 of the stories feature several colored characters. One of them has many English characters. Yet, they use the same cast for each one and adapt them to fit into the roles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    The best way way to do it is NOT resorting to yellowfacing and
    brownfacing when Hollywood already has a huge problem giving people of color equal representation. It’s never okay. Ever.

    A lot of people have been using the ‘multiple timelines’ and ‘budget’ and ‘everyone will be offended no matter what’ to excuse this. I, and many others, would’ve much preferred the birthmark route, even if they had to stretch it to show it multiple places on the body, or even do things like scarring or physical builds to get reincarnation and connection themes across.

    If I did want to entertain the ‘SALARY’ argument, nothing is stopping them from hiring some new actors who wouldn’t require huge salaries, anyway. Hollywood can sell titles on more than just its actors, y’know.

    Yellowface and brownface are steeped in racism since Hollywood’s earliest days, and helped fuel stereotypes and prevent people of color getting movie roles. Did you know that Warner Bros. lead roles in the past decade were over 80% white? So when they DO have a movie meant for a lot of people of color, they skip over the already neglected and shunned demographic of actors and decide on yet MORE white people, but in horrible make-up that hearkens to the 1930′s?

    No. There was a better way to do this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Hollywood would love for us to believe that there just aren’t enough decent Asian actors. Whatever keeps the status quo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    http://www.racebending.com/v4/featured/academy-awards-2012-putting-blackface-context/

    There’s no such thing as whiteface. Why? Because whiteface was never used to marginalize white people, nor prevent them from getting fair access to film roles, nor used to the same degree as brownface, redface, blackface and yellowface.

    The link above has plenty of statistics from credible sources, common arguments debunked, explanations and even photos showing how offensive and wrong your thought process is.

  • Anonymous

    Well fired off I wouldn’t refer to them as “colored” and second, the film doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Given the sketchy history of yellowface and in general the poor treatment of Asians in Hollywood, decking out some white people in Mickey Rooney make-up was probably not the best decision.

    And policing Asian Americans who are hurt and angered by this by going “No! You don’t understand! The movie is just 2 deep 4 u!” is really crappy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Dude, nobody says ‘colored’ anymore.

  • Terence Ng

    Does this book say that each reincarnation of the next character looks similar to the previous one? You state that having them played by different actors would “lose” the connection between incarnations, but I imagine that people reading the book didn’t imagine that the Korean incarnations looked like the white ones, nor did they need to in order to understand that the characters were connected.

  • Terence Ng

    Wouldn’t a single shot showing the birthmark when each new character incarnation be enough to indicate that they are the previous incarnation of the last character who had the exact same birthmark? Couldn’t they show a character’s shoulder while she’s putting on a shirt? Or when he’s running around shirtless? I would trust directors of their caliber to be able to show and not tell if they need to.

    You make a reasonable point about cost for the number of actors, but these other ones seem more apologetic than imperative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jill.bakeroliver Jill Baker Oliver

    Dude, several is modifying “colored” not “characters”, where in, characters of several colors, meaning white, yellow, black, brown, not using “colored” to mean one specific race.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    That might work in some instances but in at least 2 of the stories there really isn’t any reason to expose their shoulder and it wouldn’t fit with the character/ period to throw in a shirtless/ dressing scene.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    No, I really disagree with you. They gave Halle Berry the lead and one of my favorite characters in the story even though nothing in the story indicates that the person was black (and arguably because of the decade it’s supposed to be, they really stepped out of the box to use a black character). Because of that choice, they had two more black characters tied into the story as father figures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    No, they’re actually not even the same sex and I think Halle Berry is the only one that is the same reincarnation of the main soul/character twice (it’s assumed that Hugh Grant and Hugo Weaving are always the same soul). In the case of the main character, there was no yellow face or black face – they are all played by people of the race of the character. The make up has been for the secondary characters that support the roles because they use the same cast for each story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    But “yellow” is ok? I think that’s far more offensive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Well, I wasn’t sure what else to call it. I’m trying to illustrating that they use all of the actors in a variety of ways and that the Asian and black actors are playing roles that are white in the book. The fact that Halle Berry was able to play a role that normally wouldn’t be given to her because of her race shows that their intention was not to marginalize anyone. If you look at the panel they had at the Toronto film festival, they have a large ensemble cast from a variety of backgrounds that they integrate into each one of the stories.

    Also, I find it offensive and wrong that you can say that my opinions are offensive and wrong just because they don’t agree with yours. I haven’t said anything racist or marginalizing. I am just expressing my opinions about the creative liberties that the directors and producers of this film took. I’ve read the book and have really had a lot of fun looking through IMDB to see how they used the cast in the way they did to tie together the stories. I think it make the connection that can be really hard to capture in a film adaptation of a story like that.

  • http://twitter.com/JayKingOfGay Jay, King of Gay

    Does the book indicate the the Korean characters in 2144 are of racially pure heritage, or is it possible they are multi-racial? (That may explain why the makeup/effects were not a complete transformation)
    I’m not arguing for or against anything nor am I apologizing, I’m merely pointing out logistical, technical, and artistic choices that might have been made.
    Though it is interesting to note that the cast and producers cover a broad spectrum of ethnicities, I see at least two latin names as producers and one Asian Executive producer.

  • http://twitter.com/mitaukano Kash Mitaukano

    Okay you said offensive things by defending the use of yellowface and getting upset that an actor is black. And you seem to be upset at the fact she is being cast a black.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Did I say that? Interpreting my words in a way that is convenient for you is pretty crappy too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1208921 Nikki Lincoln

    Ok, well I’m sorry it came across that way. I was trying to use it as an example of the opposite. I’m trying to say that there are many examples in the film of them giving black and Asian actors white roles as well so I think it’s actually being inclusive. I love that they did that and I’m really excited to see Halle Berry in the Frobisher and Luisa Rey stories.

  • Anonymous

    You’re basically asserting that Asian Americans are overreacting because the context of the film somehow makes it okay.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Did you read my comment at all?

    Putting ‘whiteface’ alongside all the others doesn’t make sense because historically they have never been the same, nor done to the same degree. You can call it whatever you like: it’s not even worth bringing into the discussion. So what if people of color are playing originally white characters in the movie? It doesn’t hold a candle to all the roles that have been whitewashed over the years. Even recently, there have been a number: The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, The Lone Ranger, Old Boy, etc.

    Your opinions are wrong because there is literal concrete evidence that they are wrong. If you bothered to click that link and take a cursory glance at Hollywood’s shitty practices, you’d realize that.

    Intention also isn’t a factor: so the studio didn’t want to marginalize anyone? They still did. Just like you didn’t intend to be ignorant, and are sounding extremely ignorant and defensive anyway.

    You seem more interested in convincing me you haven’t said anything racist (you just used the term ‘colored’ to refer to POC and supported yellowfacing by calling it a ‘creative liberty’) than you do removing your rose-tinted glasses and observing your favorite novel with a more critical eye.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    I don’t see how it’d matter either way: whatever race they want to call it, we’re seeing one we recognize, and that’s Asian. If they were multi-racial, they could’ve easily found some multi-racial actors.

    Yellowface is never an artistic or technical choice. Just a stupid and painful one, for many people of color, most especially Asian-Americans.

    The race of the producers disappoints me, frankly, but this is nothing new. It may be a racially insensitive production, but M. Night Shyamalan is Indian-American, and he directed that travesty known as The Last Airbender.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Or you could just use ‘people of color’ in the first place, which is plural, and avoid the problematic and unnecessary ‘colored’ completely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Yellowface refers to a racist act, when Asians were more commonly called the slur ‘yellow’. Just like the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was founded back in the Jim Crow days, where ‘colored’ was a common slur for black people.

    That painful terminology keeps the history in place, because that’s precisely what it is. If we called it anything but yellowface, people might start to think it’s okay.

    Like you. You called it ‘creative liberty’, and here we are.

  • Anonymous

    I was just saying that for each of the different stories the person playing the central character is playing someone of their own ethnicity, and the peripheral cahracters are changed around them, while that article seemed to me to be saying that Jim Sturgess was the main action hero. It was a comment about the article, not saying that I think the yellowface is ok.
    The make up itself didnt seem to me to be a big problem at first, just a little tacky and poorly done. I think the directors are using the same actors in different roles thing as a way of more expressively portraying the reincarnation aspect which was done subtly in the book, as you said through the birthmark (which incidently means that Ben Wishaw would be reincarnating into Halle Berry into Doona Bae, if you went just by the characters).
    I am white, and not having exprienced racism first hand I think does make it harder for me to see it without it being pointed out. Sorry if I seemed a bit thoughtless.

  • Terence Ng

    I think now that we’ve established that this indiidual doesn’t know enough to understand what the context and meaning of the term “yellowface” is (to the point of making the argument that saying “yellow” when using “yellowface” is offensive), we can say that this level of discourse is too advanced and that this dialogue is over. Starting with the basics is probably necessary. But kudos on sticking at it for as long as you did.