The backlash of the casting for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians The TV series shows that these people completely misunderstand the books. After the lackluster response to the first attempt at adapting Rick Riordan’s popular YA Greek mythology book series, many were excited by Disney’s decision to try again – this time with the author’s direct involvement. Yet the first casting reveal for the main Percy Jackson trio was also accompanied by quite a bit of criticism, especially regarding the choice of Annabeth Chase.
Disney has announced that Walker Scobell from The Adam ProjectLeah Sava Jeffries from Empire series, and Aryan Simhadri of Cheaper by the dozen had been cast to play Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood respectively. Riordan also happily shared the news on his personal blog, as he had been involved in the casting process from the very beginning. Unfortunately, alongside the praise these picks received online, there was also enough negativity that Riordan felt the need to post another post in response to the Percy Jackson backlash.
Most of those negative comments were directed at Jeffries, a 12-year-old black actress cast in a role the books describe as white. These remarks complained that the cast did not reflect their own views on the character’s appearance and blatantly dismiss all of Jeffries’ other qualifications. Riordan succinctly responded in his follow-up post: “Friends, that’s racism. Ironically, such criticism also ignores the central message of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books, proving how little these so-called fans even know about the story they claim to stand for.
Book Annabeth’s blondness has never been so crucial
Many complaints about Annabeth’s casting stemmed from the character’s conflicting feelings about her blonde hair in the books. As the daughter of the Greek goddess of wisdom, Athena, Annabeth had always centered her identity around her own intelligence, which she feared her fairness would overshadow. She worried that strangers would always assume that superficial things like her sex and her blond hair made her less intelligent than she was – in other words, she worried that strangers would judge her solely on her looks. This concern goes so much deeper than hair color, as Jeffries’ casting for the Percy Jackson show has proven itself. If anything, the casting backlash only makes Jeffries even more suitable for the role, because who would understand better than her what it’s like to be deemed inadequate because of your looks and not your merit? Riordan wrote in his blog that “the true nature of the character lies in his personality“, and if Jeffries is able to embody what really makes Annabeth who she is, then nothing else really matters.
Of course, Jeffries’ casting doesn’t necessarily mean Annabeth won’t have blonde hair or gray eyes in the Disney+ series, as the show may decide to include those features in its final look. Alexandra Daddario, the actress who played Annabeth in the original Percy Jackson movies, got enough complaints about his black hair to have it lightened for the next movie. If fans were really upset by these trivial details, they could have just asked for them to be included instead of outright protesting the casting. Still, critics don’t seem to care, and aren’t willing to trust Riordan’s word that Jeffries is the best embodiment of Annabeth’s spirit and creepy wit. By focusing on all the wrong things, those upset with the casting only show how little they know about the real story.
Percy Jackson teaches that there is strength in difference
Challenging the preconceptions of others has always been an important aspect of Percy Jackson series. From the very first book, characters that others had considered troublemakers or lesser stepped up to be heroes. The children of the god of war Ares, seen as only harsh and insensitive, could also be sensitive and open to love and forgiveness; the children of the love goddess Aphrodite, dismissed as superficial and selfish, sacrificed themselves to save others; Percy, the neurodivergent child who failed six schools, was also the son of Poseidon who saved the world. In his response to complaints about the casting, Riordan wrote: “Percy Jackson’s central message has always been that there is strength in difference. . . Anyone can be a hero.”
It’s not only heartbreaking that such a young actress should be exposed to such hatred, but the irony of such a reaction has obviously been lost on those who choose to complain about the Percy Jackson Pin up. Riordan went on to say that anyone who was upset about the casting clearly “learned nothing” books, because they have completely missed their main message. Coming together despite and because of each other’s differences to save the world is the backbone of the Percy Jackson series. The books aim to teach children that the parts of themselves that some might disapprove of may actually be their greatest assets, and people should never judge another for no reason.
Leah Jeffries is already proving she’s the perfect Annabeth
Rick Riordan has written extensively about the time and care that went into the casting process for the Percy Jackson show, and reiterated, “Once you see Leah as Annabeth, she will become exactly how you imagine Annabeth.” Still, Jeffries is already proving she was the perfect choice even before filming for the Disney+ remake began. In a video response, Percy JacksonAnnabeth’s new actress told the haters to stop”wasting time“complain about the casting because, in his own words, “I still have confidence in myself.”
Although each character has their own battles to fight, Annabeth faced extra pressure in the books than many others in Percy Jackson not. As the daughter of the goddess of wisdom and battle strategy, Annabeth was often the one who came up with the plan, who had to remain calm under pressure and had to win all of her battles. Expectations that high would make anyone struggle to live up to them, but Annabeth dealt with them while navigating the ways she was constantly perceived, both positively and negatively, based on nothing more than her looks. . Such strength has made her an inspiration to young girls around the world who have grown up reading. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and Jeffries proves she’s ready to be that inspiration for a new generation. She knows better than to listen to what others think of her, and such determination will undoubtedly be a great asset to the actress in the future. Riordan said it best: Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.
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