Tag Archives: Debbie Reese

HBO Eyeing Neil Gaiman’s American Gods; Will a Casting Race Fail Soon Follow?

by Latoya Peterson

American Gods Cover

My, my, my. HBO is going all in with their fantasy acquisitions these days. First Game of Thrones and now Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. According to Deadline Hollywood:

The project was brought to HBO by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and it was brought to them by Robert Richardson. The plan is for Richardson and Gaiman to write the pilot together. [...]

American Gods, the 2002 book that won both the Stoker and Hugo Award among other prizes, lays out a battle between two sets of gods. One consists of the traditional gods and mythological creatures who got their power because people throughout history believed in them. They are losing steam as people’s beliefs wane and are in danger of being supplanted by a new set of gods who reflect America’s preoccupation with technological advancements and obsessions with media, celebrity, technology and drugs. The protagonist is an ex-con who becomes the traveling partner of a conman who turns out to be one of the older gods trying to recruit troops to battle the upstart deities.

The main character of American Gods is Shadow, a wandering ex-convict who finds himself in a battle of mythology – the older Gods of folklore, brought to America by waves of immigration and kept alive by their devotees are set to face off against the newer Gods like the internet and the media. But what is most compelling to me isn’t just the story line – it’s that once again, Gaiman has been explicit about which of his characters are nonwhite by design. Gaiman, writing on the WELL message boards, explains his thoughts around Shadow:

[I]n my head at least he’s one of those people whose race doesn’t read easily — in the celebrity world, Vin Deisel’s an example of the same kind of look. But it seemed appropriate in a book about America that the hero was of mixed race.

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