This post will be discussing the racist reaction to Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie and Idris Elba potentially as Bond, referencing Azealia Bank’s amazing rant and Ben Okri’s article.
I’ve been getting annoyed with the amount of people I’ve seen saying that Rush Limbaugh has a point that Idris Elba can’t be Bond because Bond is white and Scottish. Why are we prioritising an imaginary character over better diversity and representation? Also, can Idris Elba please make a living from his job without being told the colour of his skin means he can’t? Wtf? Not to mention that films when it comes to staying faithful to plot or backstory are consistently terrible, as anyone who reads books then sees the film version realises, films do not care about faithfulness to the original story, they just want to make a good story.
People are upset that Moses in Exodus is being played by Christian Bale, Ridley Scott’s defence was that he needed a strong team, so having people of colour in these roles would have made a weaker team? What kind of message is that? Basically making money actually took priority over faithful representation/telling a good story in this case.
Just saying, we live in the post post modern era, faithfulness to the original story is long gone. If we want to retain integrity, question Ridley Scott’s choices, do not make racist comments about Rue in Hunger Games.
Similar reaction has been had to Annie:
Not to be racist, but since when is Annie black?!”. And “I’m not racist but first the karate kid then Johnny Storm and now Annie!” And, obviously “I’m not racist or anything … But this new Annie movie is all mixed up!!! Annie is WHITE!!!!!!”
Why do people think it’s alright to make these comments? Rush Limbaugh says, it’s like if George Clooney was to play Obama. Say what? If we are talking about Obama then that he is a black man is integral to his story, and his story can be read as about diversity of the people we see in positions of power, so that story would not work with George Clooney no, but Obama is a REAL person, not a fictional character. Does anyone feel embarrassed at their ridiculous racist comment yet?
One tweet which was like, WHAT ARE YOU SAYING PPL, was that Annie as a black girl doesn’t work because a black girl doesn’t have the same issues as Annie traditionally has, that people should write their own stories. WOW. So white people should stick to performing white colonialism where women had no rights, black people were slaves, and abortions were illegal procedures carried out in someone’s back room. Let’s only tell these stories of what the past holds. I mean, since when do white people have a monopoly on Annie’s story? Who decided that? These comments are utterly unacceptable if you call yourself a human being.
This article by Ben Okri is headed: ‘A mental tyranny is keeping black writers from greatness’ He argues that there is a tendency to go to black writers for books on slavery, that their voices are listened to as representing this issue: ‘The black and African writer is expected to write about certain things, and if they don’t they are seen as irrelevant.’ This reminds me of Azealia Banks saying:
‘They are trying to erase us, all of our books and scripts are gone, never to be seen….you read your social studies textbook and all you see are stories of you under some white person’s foot, of you failing…even the fact that they still making movies like 12 Years a Slave, I don’t want to see no more fucking stories about no more fucking slaves, I don’t want to see no more fucking white people whipping nobody… I don’t wanna see this shit no more, because my black story is deeper…’ (35 minutes in round about)
What I’m saying is, have some respect and stop saying that Annie is inherently white or Bond is inherently white/Scottish. You are missing the point that a huge opportunity to challenge the dominant narrative of cis straight white men has arrived, and we should be taking that with both hands. More than missing the point, you are telling people what stories they are allowed to tell, and that is an aspect of tyranny.
And I bet the dominant narrative will still be there in the end, in subtle ways and large ones. Bond will still be successful with the ladies rather than the mens, so don’t even worry about it. Lesbian Bond anyone? It’d be good, you know it.