After commenting on two separate blogs, I realize that this issue is something that really bothers me. What I'm referring to is when the race of a given character is altered in order to (I assume this is the purpose) show that all races are present at all echelons in society, no matter what time era is being depicted.
Two recent examples of this are the upcoming comic book movies The Avengers and Man Of Steel. In both cases, white men in positions of power have been replaced by African American actors. And I guess before I go any further, it needs to be stated that yes I am a white male and this is not a racist agenda for me. It's more about accuracy and honesty, as well as maintaining the original story. I'm a fan of leaving things alone, because a successful story is good for a reason and should be undisturbed.
In the case of The Avengers, I guess I'm just against it on principle. I can see the argument that because the story is taking place in modern times, it's an acceptable change. I don't know what was wrong with casting someone who fit the original character, but I guess I can deal with it. With the Man Of Steel however, it's more of an problem with historical accuracy. Given the time period the story of Superman was originally written about, it becomes more and more unlikely that an African American male would be the head of the largest newspaper in a city modeled after New York City. I'm not saying it couldn't possibly happen during that time period, but it was less likely.
I'm going to tread through some dangerous water here (as if I haven't already), so I understand if you want to stop reading at this point. Let's say for argument sake that the Chief is an African American. Wouldn't this necessarily alter the dynamic between all the main characters around him? While we might like to pretend we are completely blind to race and skin color, the truth is that the differences in race can often bring with it differences in how we interact with each other. And an African American who has made it to the top of a major newspaper will undoubtedly have a distinctly different perspective on life than a white male taking that same journey. That difference in background and experiences should also affect how they interact with everyone else, hence changing a crucial character in this story.
If you're going to do that, as far as I'm concerned you might as well create a new character with a new name and either alter the timeline of the story or alter the universe you're creating it in. It's no longer the same story and it really shouldn't be. If Perry White were a minor character that nobody interacted with, I could maybe understand. But he is too central a character and has too great an effect on those around him.
I've used comic books as examples, but I've seen it happen in all sorts of things. And while humanity has experienced countless moments of racial exclusion, trying to cover it up or ignore it only serves to bury the truth and doesn't teach us why that practice is wrong. Changing the stories makes it easier for people to pretend that there wasn't a time when certain races were persecuted or excluded in the United States. Before long, we're forgetting to teach our children that slavery did exist and that Whites Only was once culturally acceptable in certain parts of our country.
I've soap-boxed long enough. I do apologize if anyone has been offended by this topic, but it's just something I had to talk about. If you have an opinion (either for or against), I'd love to hear it.