The trailer for “The New Legends of Monkey” is out to apparently “tempt” audiences into checking out the show when it is released. As you may guess it is a new take on the 1980s “Monkey Magic” series, which all originate from the old Chinese fable/tale/story of “Journey To The West”. Before I talk about my disappointment in this revamp, I would like to say that I wrote about this when the remake was first announced – a collaboration between ABC Australia and Netflix. The point I made (which I did get attacked for) is that the main characters can’t be considered as fully whitewashing as 3 out of 4 of the main cast are people of color (the woman who plays “Sandy” is white). Chai Hansen ( biracial Asian) plays the Monkey King, with both Tripitaka and Pigsy being played by actors who have a Pacific Islander/Maori background – Luciane Buchanan and Josh Thomson. The character of Sandy is played by a white actor – Emilie Cocquerel.
So my argument in that vein still stands, that it is not fully whitewashing as there is an Asian and POC playing most of the leads. However, my issue with this remake is that the essence and the culture of the old Chinese tale is lost. Most of us Asians have grown up watching the many series remakes of “Journey to the West” as a story which taught us about morals, ethics and values. There is a culture and Chinese origins attached to this story, and this remake, sadly loses this culture and Chinese origins. So what I am trying to say is that the issues are not whitewashing but how it has been appropriated and has lost all the semblance of its culture and origins.
In addition the other odd thing is that some of the characters have American accents, which I am baffled over because is it attempting to “westernise” in order to forgo all the Chinese cultural essence of the remake. My question to the ABC is whether this is their intent? Is removing all semblances of “Chinese culture” an indirect way to say that in order to win non-Asian audiences, they must fully westernise it? Watching the trailer, it almost loses any connections to the original tale. Like the 1980s “Monkey Magic” (despite being Japanese) was a lot more closer to the original story , with how the characters looked and of course being fully Asian, but the trailer for this new remake, loses this essence. I don’t know, but I am right now disappointed after seeing the trailer as it does not have any semblance of “Monkey Magic” and the old tale of “Journey To The West”.
Here is an “explanation” from ABC as to why it was cast and remade this way. It has seriously divided fans of the 1980s “Monkey Magic”.
I will leave it here, but please feel free to let us know what y’all think.
Images via ABC Australia
To read the full article, please click on: First look at Monkey (Magic) revamp divides fans