Should Live Action Characters Look Like The Cartoons?

Valentina Caceres, Senior Multimedia Editor

In the past few years, Hollywood has focused on bringing beloved cartoon shows and movies back for new and old audiences through live-action remakes. 

Casting the perfect actors for each role is crucial to the translation process, yet it seems that with each new remake announced, Hollywood strays further from casting actors that look like the original cartoon characters. 

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Seeing live action characters that resemble the cartoons completes the full, nostalgic experience and is what ultimately attracts viewers to these modern remakes. But while a large majority of these audiences hope to sit back and enjoy a trip down memory lane, the characters in the originals could have stood for something more meaningful to others.

Characters in television shows and movies can serve as representation for underrepresented groups a role that does not exclude cartoon characters. Younger audiences, especially, idolize these characters, and when these characters look like them, it makes them feel even more empowered and proud of who they are. 

Most recently, Netflix faced backlash with its announcement of the cast of its Winx Club live-action remake, Fate: Winx Saga. Audiences accused Netflix of white-washing the original characters, as characters Flora originally Latina and Musa originally East Asian   are both played by white actresses.

Not only did Netflix effectively reject the deep ties older audiences felt towards these inclusive characters, but they lost the chance to introduce these characters to a newer generation of underrepresented girls. 

When cartoon characters are white-washed in the live-action version, this perpetuates Western beauty ideals, and demonstrates that they remain the standard. Additionally, since, according to The Washington Post, feelings of racial inferiority begin as early as childhood, this trend in remakes can cause more damage than imagined.

Though some live action remakes show white-washed characters, others are using these projects as an opportunity to increase representation through castings.

Most notably, Disney recently cast Black R&B singer Halle Bailey as the Little Mermaid for the upcoming live-action movie. Though Disney faced backlash after the announcement #NotMyAriel trended on social media — Disney made the right choice, as they created a second Black princess for a newer generation to look up to. 

Instead of just being pure cash-grabs, Hollywood’s live action remakes grant the industry the opportunity to make progress in the long journey towards making entertainment inclusive.