It’s true! While I won’t provide the internet with pictures of my dad (you’re sometimes untrustworthy weirdos, I’m sorry), you just have to believe me when I say my father could easily have been cast as Giancarlo Esposito’s role in Far Cry 6. But the cowards at Ubisoft clearly missed my pop’s reel in the mail and went with the more famous choice — even though he’s not Latino. How typically Hollywood of them.
It’s really a shame because without my dad, Far Cry 6 is really missing out on something special. He’s the package deal: a genuinely charismatic guy with a deep, authoritative register. Lord knows I thought he was intimidating whenever he got stern or when we fought. He brings a strong presence into any room he enters and is an expert at weaving his way in and out of any conversation. Down to the very wrinkles on his head, my dad could go blow for blow with Esposito for the role of Anton Castillo.
Pa, si lees esto o si yo te lo leo, no te estoy llamando un dictador, solo digo que tu seria uno mas autentico que el actor en un juego. Son cumplidos, te lo juro.
Like I said, they must’ve missed his reel. And probably the reels of the other capable Latines who could’ve realized Dictador Castillo. It’s the only way I can rationalize the casting beyond a mind-numbing shallowness and idiocy. This is why I’ve had nothing but ambivalence for the game since Esposito’s inauthentic casting was announced last fall. I’ve wrestled with what to say and think about it, because I’ve liked the actor’s work in the past and have little reason to believe he wouldn’t do good work now. Though I certainly have my own issues with stunt casting and why games have taken to it so much. Now, though, it’s grown personal.
I’m not Cuban, as the fictional country of Far Cry 6 clearly wants to evoke, but I am Dominican. Not only are we neighbors, but we’re countries with unfortunately familiar backgrounds. Our asshole leaders were boys! When Fulgencio Batista was sacked in Cuba, he ran to our guy in Ciudad Trujillo (the capital Santo Domingo was renamed “Trujillo City” after our asshole, Rafael Trujillo) with his tail tucked between his legs. My dad was born into the Trujillo dictatorship and matured through another. My mother and grandparents lived through it, too. Throw a dart at a map of Latin America and you’ll hit a country shaped by its struggle for independence. Any one of those nations would have provided ample stories to tell and ample people to tell them. Ubisoft’s casting, however, threw a dart at the wrong side of the goddamn Atlantic. I can’t believe this bears saying but the minimum you owe us, if you’re gonna tell our stories, is to see us. Run my dad his check; he did not grow up under Trujillo and Joaquin Balaguer to not be cut a real big one.
I don’t like meeting anyone halfway who doesn’t otherwise meet me halfway. The idea of giving Far Cry 6, a game that has to this point prominently touted a non-Latine’s starring role in a story Ubisoft assures me will be about political revolution and the people caught up in it (seemingly without the people!), that leeway on a whim is a brave one. I should not be expected to give a game or a company — especially with Far Cry and Ubisoft’s respective track records — the benefit of the doubt to get someone like me, but more importantly like my dad, “right.”
On that note, the ways in which this game may be “right” seem… gross. I’m sure the writing will shine in spots. I know the game will try, to a degree I don’t know, to honor the plights it pulls from. I’m also sure parts of it will be well-researched and accurate. Because it’s Far Cry, though, I’m also positive it will satirize the entire situation it portrays — just as it has since Far Cry 3 laid out the formula, which I’m not even upset about.
I know it will “look and feel” like its inspiration, but without Yarans or people who can intimately relate to or portray them, Far Cry 6 looks like another playground haunted by what it could’ve been. Not to mention it looks to be missing what it needs: a genuine, Latine beating heart at the center of it all. An unspoken empathy for the people whose struggles it’s mining for capital. The kind of shit my dad could bring, but Esposito certainly won’t. The worst part is that, even if the world itself is populated by Latine voices, the one that will drown them out will be the one that every title in the series revolves around and receives all the acclaim: the unstable villain.
I can tell that before I’ve even played this game, I actually have. We all have, because Far Cry is formulaic. Games speak their own languages, and franchises like Far Cry speak in big, unifying, and ultimately unchanging ones. And as long as that’s true, they can change the setting as much as they want, the overt message remains the same. This isn’t a series for my dad or me, nor for Cubans who have suffered due to or have been witness to authoritarianism. I don’t think this series actually cares for us and I don’t think it ever will. Until they realize they aren’t above my pops, or anyone for that matter that this actually speaks, they can shove it. If representation is going to cost us like this, I think we’re through with paying.