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Race Swapping, sometimes spelled Raceswapping or Race-swapping, is a slang term used online that revolves around the switching of a previously established character or person's race when portraying them in a media adaptation inconsistent with their original depiction. The trend, which started with modern remakes of movies and TV shows changing around previous characters, evolved into a meme format in which characters, even historical nonfiction ones, will be race swapped and attributed to a movie production studio for humorous effect (typically by making them absurd). It also sometimes includes changing inanimate objects or animals.
Though race swapping has been done throughout the history of cinema, the concept and term did not become prevalent online until the 2010s. A modern example that left an impact on the internet and early meme culture was The Last Airbender casting controversy in mid-2010, as well as the Dragon Ball Evolution live-action film that came out the following year.
Both of these films were poorly received by audiences and notably had white actors cast in the main character slot of a previously established franchise with non-white protagonists. This is especially evident with The Last Airbender, as shown by the YouTube street review posted by the channel lastairbendereview on July 2nd, 2010, with many fans pointing to the changes that were made from the source material as what was wrong with the movie (shown below).
As more properties began to be made and come out, especially with Marvel Comics being turned into various live-action shows and movies, characters from older iterations were frequently being recast and race swapped going into the latter half of the 2010s.
For example, in 2016, this became a prominent viral debate online with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming and the biracial depiction of Mary Jane by Zendaya, which was seen by some as another instance in a growling list of "Ginger Erasure" cases. Memes about this casting choice began to spread after the announcement, with Imgflip user RustyB uploading a meme comparing Zendaya to the comic book Mary Jane in late 2016 (shown below).
Race Swapping Parodies
Online discourse and memes surrounding fictional characters being race swapped when newer adaptations of existing properties were announced continued to grow and spread leading into the early 2020s, eventually evolving to include stories about real people vs. fictional characters. Many of these developed alongside the Netflix Blackwashing parodies meme trend by switching out an iconic historical figure's race for one that's a humorous juxtaposition.
For example, on February 25th, 2023, a now-deleted Redditor uploaded an image of a parody poster for a George Floyd documentary in which Floyd was played by Ryan Gosling, earning over 660 upvotes before being removed from the /r/okbuddyretard subreddit (shown below).
@squidn1 #greenscreen Disney is at it again race swapping characters to appease the woke instead of actually creating new stories #disney #woke #culture #movies #culturewar #conservative #liberal #hollywood #fyp #patriot #gowokegobroke ♬ original sound – Sidni Standard
@officialmgc Keep characters comic book accurate #comictok #comics #dcuniverse #dceu #dccomics #marvel #mcu #marvelstudios #raceswap #raceswapping #whitewashing #marvelcomics ♬ original sound – MGC
 YouTube – lastairbenderreview
 Reddit – okbuddyretard
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