I am onboard with pretty much all of this essay at The Conversation — “Anne Boleyn: in defence of historical inaccuracy” — even though it barely touches on many of the issues around colorblind casting. A taste:
The Channel 5 historical drama series Anne Boleyn, directed by Lynsey Miller, stars black British actor Jodie Turner-Smith as the Tudor queen consort at the height of her power and influence, shortly before her dramatic fall and execution in May 1536.
Even before the first episode was shown, some complained that Turner-Smith’s casting was historically inaccurate because Anne was white. But these complaints ignore several existing versions of the doomed queen’s story that have portrayed her deliberately and creatively beyond the agreed-upon facts.
I haven’t seen any of this series yet, so I am reacting not to it specifically, but just to the general pushback that colorblind casting has generally gotten in British culture. (Which is easily extrapolated to American culture as well, though it hasn’t been as big a thing in the US yet.)
And my first, admittedly knee-jerk response is this: If you’re okay with certain ambiguities and artistic licenses in historical depictions — as this essay points out have been rife when it comes to Anne Boleyn in particular — but not others, maybe take a look at which ones bother you. Why are some facts more acceptably malleable than others, and what value do you find in which bendings of the “truth”?