Backlash over Peter Dinklage’s casting as Hervé Villechaize — star of “Fantasy Island” — has highlighted one of the great problems with identity politics and social justice: they actually reduce people to perceived identities.
Dinklage, an accomplished actor who happens to have dwarfism, will play Villechaize in an upcoming HBO movie called “My Dinner with Hervé.” The “Game of Thrones” star has been accused of “whitewashing” because Villechaize was supposedly half-Filipino.
Except he wasn’t.
Villechaize was actually French, and was of German and English descent. But because he looked like he may have been Filipino — and Wikipedia told them so — social justice warriors accused Dinklage of “yellow face.”
“But these people think they’re doing the right thing politically and morally and it’s actually getting flipped because what they’re doing is judging and assuming what he is ethnically based on his looks alone,” Dinklage told Entertainment Weekly. “He has a very unique face and people have to be very careful about this stuff.”
As to the decades-old claim that Villechaize was half-Filipino, Dinklage explained how you can’t trust everything you read on Wikipedia (because apparently people still don’t know this).
“It says [Villechiaze was half-Filipino] on Wikipedia. Family members can’t change information on there,” Dinklage said. “My daughter’s name was ‘Zelig’ on Wikipedia for a long time. Her name is not Zelig. I don’t know who is able to put information up, but there are so many things on there that aren’t true.”
This is one of the biggest problems with social justice — those who decide they get to choose what is and isn’t okay are basing their decisions solely on looks. Judging people based on their looks and then telling them what they can or cannot do based on those perceived looks is, oh, what’s the word?