Handel told "The High Calling," "From the beginning, we were concerned about casting, the issue of race. What we realized is that this story is functioning at the level of myth, and as a mythical story, the race of the individuals doesn't matter. They're supposed to be stand-ins for all people. Either you end up with a Bennetton [sic] ad or the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You either try to put everything in there, which just calls attention to it, or you just say, 'Let's make that not a factor, because we're trying to deal with everyman.' Looking at this story through that kind of lens is the same as saying, 'Would the ark float and is it big enough to get all the species in there?' That's irrelevant to the questions because the questions are operating on a different plane than that; they're operating on the mythical plane."
Is this the dumbest thing he could have offered up as an explanation? He could have gone with the good old excuse that they were just casting the best actors for the parts, and those actors all happened to be white. Using Klingons and clothes models as comparisons is crazy, especially since Benetton's award-winning and often-controversial campaigns are downright prescient. Maybe Handel should pick up a copy of National Geographic once in a while.
Of course, this isn't the first time that a movie has come under fire for its white casting choices -- see also Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, most recently -- but it's definitely the first time anyone's been quite so blatant about it. In public, at least.
Photo courtesy Paramount