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Casting vs. Fans

HBO’s “The Last of Us” released to an already flourishing fan base, and to rave reviews. Fans of the show enjoy the dedication to keeping the spirit of the game, and even mimicking parts of the game shot for shot during key moments. At the same time, the show isn’t afraid to change things up for the narrative. One strange gripes some fans have in particular is with one of the most important parts of any movie or show; the casting.

Bella Ramsey plays Ellie, the 14-year-old star of the game next to Joel Miller, played by Pedro Pascal. Ramsey’s most famous role previous to the show was Lyanna Mormot in “Game of Thrones” and received extensive critical praise for her acting. But some fans of “The Last of Us” disliked her before the first episode of their show ever aired. The biggest criticism of her was that she did not look like Ellie did in the game. Many fans demanded that Ashley Johnson be cast in the role, as she is Ellie’s original voice actress, despite Johnson being almost forty years old. Other fans still demanded that Elliot Page play Ellie as he looked like the character prior to his transition, despite Page also being far older than the character, and furthermore, a trans man.

Despite this, many fans of the game turned their ire to Ramsey, deciding that the best course of action for their casting woes was to harass a teenager over the internet. Luckily, these complaints seem to have fallen to the wayside as the show airs and Ramsey shows how talented she is, proving that the most important part of casting is not looking like a character, but embody that character in a way that is unique to herself, but stays true to the source material.

Unfortunately, this is not first time someone has been harassed for what time people consider “incorrect casting”, nor was it the worst case. Fans rejoiced when Rick Riordan announced he was in the process of creating a TV show for his best-selling series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”. The series had previously released two movies, but both were received poorly, especially by Riordan and the fans for deviating so far from the book and the themes. But Riordan promised that he was personally involved in the show to keep it accurate. He was personally involved in casting, determined to make sure the actors were the best choice. He cast Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase, and many fans decided that this was a serious problem. Annabeth Chase in the book was a white blonde girl. Jeffries is black.

Racist fans took to the Internet to express their displeasure, some disguising their prejudice by claiming the casting is not book-accurate and therefore incorrect, and some did not even bother hiding their bigotry. It’s difficult to imagine how this might have affected Jeffries, who is still a child, and the hate got so bad that Riordan himself condemned those criticizing the casting.

Fans of a piece of media can sometimes feel entitled to it, especially when changes or adaptations are being made. While it is totally innocent to feel emotionally attached to media, that never excuses harassing the people involved who you believe are doing something wrong, especially when you’re harassing children and spewing racism. Casting does not and should not cater to a fanbase. Casting is about picking the person best for the job, and casting teams are always more competent than the average fan. Ramsey has already proven her detractors wrong, and Riordan (and most of the Percy Jackson fanbase) is confident that it is only a matter of time before Jeffries does the same.

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