Round two begins! Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan has come forward after the praising and backlash of “blackwashing” main female character Annabeth Chase for the new Disney+ exclusive live-action Percy Jackson show. Let’s break down his statement from his own website.
Starting off with the only thing I agree with in Rick’s statement:
I agree 100%. Leave Leah Jeffries alone. After all, she is just a child, and she accepted a job. It is not her fault whatsoever. I also agree with Rick that this is ENTIRELY his fault. He has stated that Annabeth was white for over a decade, and now, all of a sudden, “lols, joke’s on my fans, I’m going to invoke lazy entertainment!”
It’s also important to note that Rick is not respectfully replying to upset fans. He had the audacity to call anyone who disagrees with him a racist. Let’s take a look at what he said:
In other words, Rick Riordan is calling anyone who disagrees with his casting and wants Annabeth Chase to remain her canonical self a “racist.” A classic woke (and Disney) move! He also somehow tells us all to leave Leah out of this, BUT THEN brings her back up just to use her as a shield and state that she is a great actress, then tells us we need to respect her craft and merit. I should mention that the title of this statement is “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”
Leah very well could be a great actress; I’ve never heard of her or seen any of her work prior to this casting announcement. I have also yet to see a single person criticize her acting chops because guess what? No one is! They are criticizing the fact that she doesn’t look anything like Annabeth from the novels. Are the novels going to be rewritten to make Percy blond and Annabeth black now? I doubt the actor who will be playing Percy will be dying his hair to match the description in the books. How can you tell your fans that she is Annabeth when she doesn’t even resemble any of Annabeth’s physical attributes? The same goes for the actor who plays Percy, but at least he can dye his hair. Annabeth was described as a typical California blonde with grey eyes. Leah is neither white, blonde, nor has grey eyes!
When Rick says, “She is a Black[sic] girl playing someone who is described in the books as white,” does he not realize how racist he sounds? HE cast Leah. He thought, “This white chick is clearly racist, and it’s time to fix that,” that her skin color is too pale, that skin color was all that mattered. People were complaining that Alexandra Daddario didn’t even have blonde hair in the 2010 film! The criticism about Annabeth’s hair color was so loud that her hair magically changed to blonde in the second film! No one was deemed a racist or some other “ist” or “phobe” because Alexandra was white. But because this actress happens to be black, it is now racist to criticize. There is nothing wrong with asking for book accuracy. After all, if skin color didn’t matter, why change it in the first place?
So, to reply to Rick’s nasty statement, I have a few questions of my own for him:
Are you implying that the previous two films were “racist” because the actress cast as Annabeth just so happened to be white?
4. Rick, if you’re posting the following on your website:
If Leah embodies all the characteristics of Annabeth, is it okay for you to introduce an Asian or Middle Eastern, or even white actress to portray Piper McLean? Wouldn’t you call that racist? Wouldn’t you be up in arms if you hired a white actress to replace a black girl in your show, even though this is the EXACT same thing you’ve just done? Personality only; no physical characteristics? Weren’t you so upset by the two previous films that you stated you would make this exclusive Disney+ show as faithful as possible? Going out of your way to cast a non-white actress doesn’t sound very faithful to me.
Friends, if we are to strive for equality amongst all races and all walks of life, perhaps the best way going forward is to treat races EQUALLY. What wouldn’t work for one race (casting a white woman to play a black character) shouldn’t be done for other races.
If you're not down with this, then you're racist! Did I get that right? https://t.co/N1nydCJ8sH pic.twitter.com/XiuY55NOWp
— Ryan Kinel – RK Outpost (@KinelRyan) May 11, 2022
Lastly, Riordan tells his critics that they never understood the theme of Percy Jackson.
So, ultimately, if we somehow fail to recognize this lazy race swap as stunning and brave, we never understood the theme of Percy Jackson, that “anyone can be a hero.” Somehow, Rick has to tell us that, yes, even black people are heroes. As if we didn’t know that! A criticism about respecting the lore has now turned into blatant hatred and racism… now, where did we hear that one? The Lord of the Rings fans have entered the chat.