According to The Independent, Disney’s localization of the movie called ‘Soul’ has generated race-related controversy.
‘Soul’ is about a Black jazz player who tries to reunite his body and his soul after they accidentally split apart. Before it was released widely among 41 countries, there exist only three animated movies which feature a Black character in the leading role in the history of American cinema.
Nevertheless, this fourth one has been criticized by several cultural news sites like Gizmodo, Screen Rant, and Insider in the United States. Given that Soul seems to lean into Black stereotypes, it uses a white actor to voice the main, Black character’s soul in its original English version. This dubbing removes Black agency, due to Gizmodo and others.
In Denmark and Germany, white actors voice the character’s body as well, sparking controversy among cinema-goers. “A number of activists and scholars suggested that [the] casting was an example of structural racism,” reports The Independent. On the other hand, Nikolaj Lie Kaas — the voice actor who received the lead Danish part — said, “My position with regards to any job is very simple. Let the man or woman who can perform the work in the best possible way get the job.”
In the language industry, non-qualification-related factors have long been considered. In interpreting especially, Language Service Providers providers (LSPs) often pair the customers with interpreters of the same gender for assignments, based on language and topic. For instance, female Arabic and Somali speakers also may require female interpreters for medical visits due to religious reasons. To brief, a man very well may be the best interpreter in town, but other factors must be considered in awarding the job.
That said, film localization is a different field and appears to adhere to different standards in at least some cases.