The newest adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand” on CBS has been met with a wave of criticism for having the audacity of not casting a real deaf person to play a deaf character.
In a letter that has since been gaining steam online, certain segments of the deaf community complain that the casting of actor Henry Zaga in the role of Nick Andros, a deaf survivor in the apocalyptic tale, does severe harm to the advancement of deaf people in the industry.
“The selection of the hearing actor to portray Nick Andros in The Stand is not acceptable. The character, Nick Andros is Deaf and signs. Not one Deaf professional actor was called in to audition for the role,” the letter claims. “The decision was made without respect to and for Deaf professionals, union, and non-union alike. There was no acknowledgement given to the psyche of a Deaf character; being Deaf is more than just not hearing.”
“At the time of diversity and inclusion, this cycle of misrepresentation and unequal or non-existent employment opportunities for Deaf professionals in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera, must end,” it continues. “This has been happening for decades.”
The letter further states that the signatories will be boycotting the series so long as the casting continues.
“We will share our displeasure of the casting decision and airing of the miniseries on CBS All Access with our Deaf community, signing community, friends, and family of Deaf individuals; together we make up 466 million worldwide,” it says.
“It is time for industry professionals to create opportunities for Deaf talent to work on the set, in front of, and behind the camera, in the writing rooms, sit on creative teams when there is a Deaf character involved in the storyline. Our voice is a sign of the times,” it concludes.
The letter has been widely shared on Twitter.
I love you @WhoopiGoldberg, but I am joining my Deaf film and theatre colleagues in solidarity. I will not be endorsing, watching, or supporting The Stand on @CBSAllAccess. #StandAgainsttheStand pic.twitter.com/HCFJNgCK3G
— JR Nexus Russ (@AWayofLife0) December 17, 2020
Outrage over “The Stand” comes several days after late-night comedian James Corden faced a wave of criticism for his portrayal of a gay man in Netflix’s “The Prom,” a serious offense due to his identity as a straight white male.
“Opinions differ on how acceptable it is for straight actors to play gay roles, but few straight actors could get away with a gay character like this, a role that would feel stereotypical in an ’80s sitcom and here feels offensive,” lamented Newsweek critic Samuel Spencer.
“After all, it is not like we have a shortage of actual gay actors who could give the role more pathos,” Spencer added. “Was Titus Burgess busy? Was Nathan Lane on holiday? Andrew Rannells is even in this movie, so we know he was available, and though he has fun as the out-of-work actor who wants everyone to know he went to Juilliard, this film would have been better had he been given the bigger role.”
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