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Wednesday, June 10, 2020 

Netflix adaptation of Cowboy Bebop makes a big deal out of diversity pandering, and toning down Faye Valentine's outfit

Netflix is keeping on with their now hilarious commitment to social justice pandering, as demonstrated in this shoddy interview recorded from Gizmodo, written by the same Beth Elderkin who defended politicizing Captain America in the past year. And the producer even defended where he's going with the following:
“We ain’t playing Bebop, Bebop is playing us,” Grillo-Marxuach said. That rule came from co-writer Karl Taro Greenfeld, and it embodies the spirit of this adaptation.
Wrong. Political correctness is playing him. For instance:
Other smaller changes are also being made in translation, as one would expect. For example, Faye’s revealing costume from the anime has been toned down a bit for Netflix’s costume design because, as Grillo-Marxuach put it, “we need to have a real human being wearing that.” And while the characters still smoke, the habit may be a bit less glamorized to reflect modern sensibilities. Grillo-Marxuach told us it’s about finding a balance between honoring the spirit of the original and adapting to the medium and audience.
His first mistake, implying Faye's not a human being. It may be one thing to "tone down" the outfit she wears in the anime, but it's entirely another to say a woman's not human. Evidently, he didn't even realize what he was saying. And there's more:
“You’ve got an entity that is very much a kind of gathering together of influences that were very important in post-war Japan: jazz, American pop culture, the whole sort-of cowboy thing, reality television,” Grillo-Marxuach continued. “So, you’re looking at a show that’s already a commentary on the influence of American pop culture with Japanese culture in the future, in space. And then we’re taking that and then we’re...trying to translate that not just in English, but also a format that is not the original format of the show.”

This is where the adaptation has gotten into a bit of hot water. Netflix faced criticism for having a largely white and male creative team behind Cowboy Bebop, part of an ongoing problem of diversity behind the scenes. However, Grillo-Marxuach, who is Puerto Rican, pushed back on this a bit. He noted that Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichirō Watanabe is serving as a consultant on the show, and touted fellow season one writers like the aforementioned Greenfeld and Vivian Lee-Durkin, both of whom are of Asian descent. He also said the show has been committed to diversity in front of the camera (something that Netflix’s other high-profile anime adaptation, Death Note, failed to do).

“Spike Spiegel has to be Asian. Like, you can’t Scarlett Johansson this shit,” Grillo-Marxuach stated. “We are making a show that takes place in a future that is multicultural, that is extraordinarily integrated and where those things are the norm.”
I'm afraid here too, they've goofed big time. Inspiration from the physical appearance of actor Yusaku Matsuda notwithstanding, Spike is a Jewish character, arms himself with an Israeli-made firearm (the IWI Jericho 941), and it's not like the Japanese never made manga and cartoons starring caucasians before. Also: if the Japanese by contrast aren't complaining about a white woman taking the role of Motoko in the live action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, then it's hypocritical to keep acting like they have to run around trying to please everyone. The producer of this new live action adaptation sounds like a jelly-spined clown who can't avoid identity politics.

Screen Rant followed up on the PC angle, and they say:
After Cowboy Bebop debuted on Adult Swim, Americans started viewing anime as more than just extremely violent pornography. On top of the anime’s gargantuan legacy, Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop faced a delay in production due to an injury John Cho (Spike Spiegel) suffered while filming a scene. Many fans fear another adaptation debacle equivalent to the Dragonball Evolution. The show's writers insist that their version will astutely honor the original while implementing contemporary/live-action sensibilities.
This is also disputable. Sure, there's plenty of anime and manga going overboard with obscene elements. But that doesn't mean the US audience all believes that's all the Japanese industry has to offer, and most stories for women tend to be less extreme in their elements than those aimed at men. In any case, even if Faye's outfit wasn't toned down, I still doubt this'll respect the original material. The funniest part is how the US comics adaptations for the silver screen appear to honor the source by ways of their costumes (but drown out the potential with overt politics), yet here PC sensibilities for some reason must apply.
Something a lot of people probably remember about Cowboy Bebop was the costume worn by Faye Valentine. Her iconic outfit consisted of yellow shorts, a shirt, white ankle boots, a loose red jacket, and flesh-colored stockings. In retrospect, her appearance can be described as overtly revealing. When Cowboy Bebop aired, that was very much in line with how young women in manga/anime were/are drawn. [...]
And this too is misleading. There's plenty of girls in anime drawn wearing simpler modern day outfits like jeans too. This was supposed to be a sci-fi drama in the future at least 50 years ahead, and much like Burroughs' the Warlord of Mars, people could dress in odd fashions. So SR is blanket smearing whole industries and genres in their quest for political correctness.

Then, to make matters worse, SR added a so-called op-ed where a writer claims it's entirely a good thing:
Netflix is changing an iconic aspect of Cowboy Bebop for their live-action series: Faye's costume. Cowboy Bebop is one of the most popular and beloved anime of all time, but the news that a live-action series is being produced for Netflix left many fans with pause over whether the original can be improved and what iconic details may be changed. In the case of Faye's revealing costume, however, the change is a good thing. [...]

It’s recently been announced that Cowboy Bebop will be brought to life via a live-action Netflix series. John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda lead the series as the crew of the planet-hopping Bebop. One of the adaptation's writers, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, has opened up about some of the details regarding this new update on the classic anime. Grillo-Marxuach has spoken about how important it is to retain the classic anime’s essence, but despite being faithful to the source material there are still certain details that are going to receive alterations, one of which will be Faye Valentine’s outfit.

Faye Valentine is one of the most beloved characters on the series. She's a bounty hunter who lost her sense of self after she's struck with amnesia when pulled out of cryo-sleep. Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) will play Faye in the series, but she's not going to look how fans remember the character. Faye’s skimpy look consisting of shorts, red jacket, and thigh-high stockings is certainly a little awkward in real life. It’s the kind of style that’s stereotypical of many anime and meant to be eye-catching to bring in audiences, but this new series operates in a different medium.

This change is actually beneficial for the character, since Faye is by no means a sexual character — despite how sexualized her outfit is. She’s someone who’s intentionally shown to not be engaged in romance throughout the series (despite theories that Faye is in love with Spike). In the anime, Faye’s gratuitous look is meant to be a way to distract her targets while she covers for her own lack of self. Sticking to that original costume in a live-action version sends a mixed message, especially when the new series is ultimately interested in exploring other aspects of Faye’s character. The new series will also have hour-long episodes as opposed to the anime’s half-hour installments, which allows for a lot more opportunities to dig deeper into Faye’s character.
Sorry, but this is just another article making sex sound like a bad thing. And all in a story that's aimed at adults. Besides, just what do they intend to "dig deeper" for? Something tells me they're not going to build any romance between her and other men in the new Netflix adaptation, and they'll probably even forcibly turn her lesbian for the sake of it. All SR's writer does is make it sound like the anime didn't do good enough.
Hopefully the new Cowboy Bebop will keep the same color scheme for Faye’s costume as they take her look in a different direction. Regardless, costumes and hairstyles are an element of adaptations that viewers expect to be changed. There are much more important details to be concerned about, and as long as this version of Faye rings true, it's really not important how she dresses. All things considers, it sounds like it’s going to be the same Cowboy Bebop at the end of the day.
Nope. Not if Spike's being a Jewish character is dropped, all for the sake of "diversity". Indeed, that would surely be the biggest irony here. What if the firearm he uses isn't even Israeli-made?

The producers and propagandists clearly don't respect the women upholding Faye's symbolism, as told in this Fandom article, for example:
Wendee Lee has brought over 500 characters to life, but when asked which was her favorite, she doesn’t even hesitate. “I think that’s self-evident,” Lee says with a chuckle. “Faye is the most iconic girl, chick, woman, child, badass, femme fatale, you name it. She encompasses it all, and I feel like she is somebody that was almost written for me.”

“She just kind of fulfills a lot of fantasy personality aspects that I wish I was bold enough to embody, but [that I] get to as an actor,” says Lee. “Just the fact that she has sass and edge, and she’s plotting and cunning and uses her sex appeal is so empowering as an actress. To be able to embody that is hugely rewarding.”

Indeed, Faye’s strength and unabashed embracement of her sexuality were ahead of her time. This may be why she and others on the Bebop continue to resonate with fans even 20 years later. But, as fans know, Faye Valentine isn’t perfect. In fact, her hardened exterior protects her from a tragic past that she can’t remember for most of the show. One where she loses her parents and her identity in one fell swoop.
And how about this interview from The Dot and Line where the voice actress who played the Faye role dubbed in English language additionally says:
For what it’s worth, in my opinion as a straight male fan of Bebop, I re-watch the show now and I think you’re right. There is a way more lascivious lens that most other anime seems to have with regards to their female characters. Bebop doesn’t really have that for Faye. She’s obviously wearing this skimpy outfit, but she’s not turned into a sex object for certainly any of her peers on the Bebop, the main male characters on the show. She’s never presented as without agency of her own. I think it’s really interesting that you wanted to bring that to her, and that you heard that in the Japanese voice actress’s performance and also wanted to do a little bit more as well.

Yeah, definitely. Faye is a feminist. She’s a sexpot and a feminist from my perspective. She uses her talents and her wiles to her advantage, but she’s clearly in control. She’s consensual. The only time I worried about that was with the film when she got abducted and her hands are tied together behind her back. I always forget his name. Vincent.
The only issue she had was with a segment in the movie version taking place between 2 stories in the latter end of the TV show's run, where a villain kidnaps and assaults her (though in the end, she thought she could work out the storyline successfully). That's fair enough. I can only wonder if the live action producers have any intention of writing storylines like those, or avoiding them, and whether it'll be done out of political correctness? It's rather strange when you say you're going to tone down the clothing, yet if they do go for this kind of adult element, one can only wonder why it's okay to do that instead?

In the end, what's dismaying is how the Netflix staff make such a fuss over pseudo-diversity and sexuality, to the point where they fail to convince whether their series will have artistic merit. And I'm honestly tired of all this obsession with turning nearly every animated property into a live action adaptation. I get the vibe it's being done because the new producers hope everybody will believe their version is infinitely superior to the source material. Recent history would suggest otherwise. I decidedly won't be bothering about this Netflix item, because it doesn't or shouldn't replace the original items, and personally, I find it easier to handle animation than live action with special effects. I once read an interview with a comics writer who said that for the printed medium, they have a de facto unlimited budget, and can thus create all the FX they want more convincingly. What can live action with the same do, but offer up a vision where, chances are you will be able to spot the seams? That's what it seems like to me these days. Sometimes, smaller is better.

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"and much like Burroughs' the Warlord of Mars, people could dress in odd fashions."

People in Burrough's Mars books didn't wear any clothes; they had a harness or belt to attach things like swords so they would not have to carry them in their hands all the time, and that was it. Like Cowboy Bebop, they put some extra clothes on them for the movie version (and the comics versions).

"they'll probably even forcibly turn her lesbian for the sake of it."

What does this even mean? Are the producers going to tie the cartoon character down and torture her until she agrees to take on a lesbian orientation? Or are they just going to point a gun at her back?

Since the character has not been shown as having been involved in any romantic relationship until now, the possibilities of her sexuality are wide open; no force required.

"What does this even mean? Are the producers going to tie the cartoon character down and torture her until she agrees to take on a lesbian orientation? Or are they just going to point a gun at her back?"

I know this is over two years old, but way to miss the point as usual, Anonymous.

"Since the character has not been shown as having been involved in any romantic relationship until now, the possibilities of her sexuality are wide open; no force required."

LOL. Obviously, someone's never watched the original "Cowboy Bebop" series. Faye was not a lesbian. You'd know that if you

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