Monday, October 31, 2016

New trend in Hollywood?

I saw two movies last week, one on Friday and one on Saturday, that both did the same thing: adding a black actor to an otherwise white cast - and making him the villain.

The details vary, of course. As is well known, Tim Burton cast Samuel L. Jackson as the over-the-top villain Baron, while keeping all the other characters white. Even in Florida we don't see a black person anywhere. All the children are white, though it would have been trivially easy to make one of them West Indian or India Indian at the least. Burton is famously on the record about being offended by adding black characters to white-sourced books or tv shows (though "fidelity to the source" isn't a Burton characteristic). But somehow he has no problem changing a white villain to a black one. hmmm.  

Inferno goes a different route. Its lone black actor plays a villain who wasn't even in the book at all, not just as a white man. And I find it very odd that the blatantly unnamed provost (described in the book as "a tiny, stunted man with tanned skin and deep-set eyes") not only gets a name in the movie (and is never called "the provost") - a very English name, too, Harry Sims and is played by Irrfan Khan.

Are film studios going to respond to the call for more POC in movies by making them all villains? Not so sure that's progress.

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