Back in the day, it seemed like folks could disagree on a lot of things, but still find ways to coexist. People didn’t always insist on their relationships being contingent upon harmonious politics or beliefs. Things have changed. In today’s polarized society, it can feel nearly impossible to find common ground with folks who don’t share our views on big issues, especially when those folks are the people closest to us. For many families, political beliefs, racism, gender discrimination, and other hot button topics can cause personal rifts that can tear a family apart. In this episode, we discuss how to have healthy disagreements with family members when diverging views on big issues make basic conversations extremely difficult.
In our eleventh episode we discuss the issue of representation in media and culture. The case in point for our conversation is the Danish dubbing of the Disney Pixar film Soul, released in 2020. The main character in Soul is Joe Gardner, a black jazz musician and music teacher from Brooklyn, NY. As is the standard for animated films from Disney, the film has been dubbed in several other languages. While the original version of Soul stars Jamie Foxx in the lead role, in Denmark, the voice actor cast as Joe Gardner for the Danish dubbing is Nikolaj Lie Kaas, one of the most well known Danish actors of his generation. Kaas is also white.
There has been some controversy regarding the casting of Lie Kaas to voice the role of a Black character, and rightfully so. As we discuss on this episode of Dialectic Peoples, representation matters. Why should the first black main character of a Pixar film be voiced by a white actor? Why not give the opportunity to represent a black voice to a black actor, regardless of language? Are performers of color in Denmark or elsewhere in Europe simply not good enough? Not famous enough? Not available?
While one unfamiliar with Denmark might think that it’s a question of availability, the assumption that there aren’t any qualified actors of color to voice the roles of characters of color in European languages is flatly wrong. Denmark, as well as other nations in the EU have plenty of talented performers of color. The question of their prestige or familiarity with audiences is not a matter talent or skill, but rather of opportunity. The casting agencies responsible for putting white actors to work dubbing the voices of black characters could have offered an opportunity to an actor of color – there were plenty available, if the not proven by the diversity (although minimal) in the casting of minor roles for the Danish dubbing of the film. Dialectic Peoples very own Kuku Agami and his older brother Al Agami both played minor roles in the Danish dub.
Ultimately, while Kaas did give a capable performance, his casting in the role of a Black character is evidence of a lack of representation in the entertainment industry in Denmark. In such a rare instance, where a black character is front and center in an animated feature film from none other than Disney, the chance for an actor of color to have a leading role could have been a star-making performance. Unfortunately that opportunity was missed. However, there is an opportunity to at least open the conversation about representation in the Danish context, and we are not letting it go to waste.
Listen to Episode 11: Represent, Represent! to hear the full discussion. Stick around for our second Q&A session, where we also discuss questions from our audience on the topic.
Dialectic Peoples is available on all major podcast platforms. Listen here.
Words can inspire great deeds, heroic actions, and confidence in us all as individuals but also as groups within society, and within society itself.
They can motivate us to do the right thing in the face of massive resistance, and help us find the strength needed to overcome any challenges.
We can choose to use words inclusively, to build bridges, and influence the lives of our fellow human beings in a positive manner, create understanding, and common ground where it may have been extinguished or absent.
The opposite is also true and throughout history, we have seen how words have been used to justify and legitimize vicious, and barbaric acts of violence, murder, and systemic oppression denying certain groups in society, equal opportunities, and or other basic human rights based on their gender, religion or ethnicity.
Ever since the murder of George Floyd, one of the words we have been unable to escape and rightly so is Racism.
It has been used often, defined, and explained but yet it still seems to be willfully misunderstood.
Is the lack of consensus or the “misunderstanding” simply based on ignorance or the immense complexities of the term Systemic Racism? Is it a collective, societal denial, a refusal to acknowledge society’s actions, and the consequence thereof, thereby absolving anyone of blame or the shame? Or is the pushback, a counteraction, by malevolent forces in society who are not willing to relinquish their privileges so that others may share those exact same privileges, or do all of these reasons intersect.
Whatever the answer, words matter!
They are our tools and they have been weaponized in this struggle. They can help us move forward or keep us in an endless loop that keeps reproducing the same outcomes.
Welcome to the first episode of the Dialectic Peoples podcast. In our first episode, naturally, we introduce ourselves and our show concept. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word dialectic means:
“the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions.”
At a time where the world has taken to the streets in protest of racism and decrying police brutality against black people, there is no shortage of widely diverging opinions, but there seems to be a surprising lack of clarity around the truth. While no one can deny the shocking and devastating reality surrounding George Floyd’s gruesome death at the hands of police officers, the truth about racism, its root causes and systemic nature is a newfound concept for many. For those who have joined the cause of #BlackLivesMatter in vehement protest of racism, questions about how we can most effectively win the fight remain a hotly debated topic.
In our debut episode of this podcast, we attempt to get at the central truth about protest and systemic racism, both from the American perspective and also in the context of Denmark and the local iteration of BlackLivesMatterDK.
Gary Young – What black america means to europe
Why do light skinned women dominate the pop-charts
Danish sociology article
Peter Hervik – Race “race” racialisering, racisme, og nyracisme