If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.
While Ridley Scott may have believed that his exodus film is “historical fiction” racism in Hollywood is all too real and to blatantly ignore that fact and spout lies and negativity about the economic viability of people of color to play people of color is to be 100% a part of the problem. Many people say the “best actors were chosen for the job”. If you’re one of those people who actually believe that Angela Basset, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Idris Elba, Phylicia Rashad, Anthony Mackie, Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o, Nicole Beharie, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Micheal B. Jordan have been cast in films only because of the color of their skin rather than their talent, I hate to break it to you but you’re prejudiced.
Remember this franchise is the first of its kind for the American movie industry and it stands as Universals most successful franchise of all time.
If film is fiction why base your movie on historic factual events? Why even make a film set in Africa at all? Don’t Europeans who are the only A listers Ridley Scot can relate to have enough of their own history without distorting and erasing people of color from theirs? The most provocative aspect of Ridley’s adaptation is not that he wanted people of color completely removed from his movie. This director wanted Blacks in his latest movie he just wants them as thieves and slaves. The real criticism I have for Ridley Scot is why is everyone in a position of immense and power European? I know telling narratives from religious scripture is difficult and I by no means want to suggest that Ridley is or isn’t religious but he does, as many others do worship at the altar of white supremacy.
The idea that white actors are the best stand in for people of color in film is as old as Birth of Nation and just as steeped in ideology of imperialism and “melting pot” colonialism. Birth of a Nation is a movie that first premiered over years ago 99 years ago and was originally called The Clansman it’s also the first film ever screened at the “white” house. Although the film was of the silent era its message was received loud and clear and was even used as a propaganda and recruitment piece for the Ku Klux Klan. The sequel to the film was ironically called Intolerance. This is just one example illustrating how images, narratives and stereotypes about Black people have far reaching impact and in some cases fuel global anti-blackness.
It appears that a film where a Black man or woman is a King, Queen or omnipotent rulers defies plausibility but the opposite is not so farfetched for the studio gate keepers. With films like The Help, Django, The Butler, Fruitvale Station, 42 and the rumored Nat Turner film it appears that the industry only sees profit in Blacks when there is suffering. I know what some of you reading this are thinking, “can we not focus on race for one second” my answer to that is simple: you first.
It does illustrate once again what a standup guy and wonderful human being Paul was when even though having the advantage he didn’t partake in it.
Even in films where POC are nonexistent their images are louder than any silence as evidence by films like The Last Samurai, Avatar the Last Airbender, Cleopatra, Star Trek into Darkness, and Prince of Persia. If Tom Cruise can be the last “samurai” than a Black man can be Ramesses. Ridley Scott’s explanation/excuses are the often touted ‘there’s no funding for films with POC’ and movies with Blacks don’t do well overseas. Most people hearing this ideology would agree with him. Except for the glaring and quite obvious fact that in 2001 Universal Pictures gambled on a film based on illegal street racing with a multicultural cast and some truly amazing driving stuns and by 2013 the Fast and the Furious franchise had earned approximately 2.3 billion. In fact the last three movies in the series of 6 have made more money overseas than in the United States. These gasoline fueled action treats never fail to entertain and most importantly year after have expanded a diverse and global cast. Remember this franchise is the first of its kind for the American movie industry and it stands as Universals most successful franchise of all time. The last film in the series, Fast and the Furious 6 raked in over 700 million for the studio and the next is predicted to bring in 1 billion. I repeat that’s, one movie and that is one billion dollars. A lot of the tremendous success of the franchise is only possible because of the undeniable influence of the gone too soon and much missed Paul Walker as Vin Diesel iterates in this clip, it was Paul’s willingness to share the spotlight that allowed for the much appreciated diversity of the cast. It is the generosity of actors like Paul Walker that makes the decision of some people to participate in such a regressive film so troubling but I guess a lot of this behavior is privilege. It does illustrate once again what a standup guy and wonderful human being Paul was when even though having the advantage he didn’t partake in it. The money I saved not going to see Exodus will be used to put my full support behind The Fast and the Furious 7. I don’t know about you but I believe in rewarding people who take a chance to go against the accepted status quo.
Do the math, the undeniable success of the Fast and the Furious franchise demonstrates that respect, equality and diversity are not a distant impossibility it’s as easy as 1. One race, the human race.
photo credit: thesource.com