By Lavern Merriweather:
In the past several weeks, two celebrities of color have expressed their disgust with changing the race of famous, beloved fictional characters such as James Bond and Green Lantern. Michelle Rodriguez, one of the stars of the long running “Fast and Furious” franchise, and a Latina, was not too pleased that there was talk of making either Green Lantern black or a rebooted Spider-Man. Michelle even went as far to say that POCs need to stop stealing superhero characters from white people. She furthered clarified her myopic point by saying that it was ‘lazy’ to rip-off already established characters.
Talk show host Larry Wilmore called her on it by reminding her that this is the SEVENTH time she and the rest of the cast have done a “Fast and Furious” movie, a series that myself and many others have said is just a rip-off of the Keanu Reeves surfing movie “Point Break”. So she really is not one to talk about lazy when Hollyweird has become full of nothing BUT lazy ass pathetic fools rehashing old plotlines that we could certainly do without. Cough* Ghostbusters* cough. If Michelle is so freaking concerned with fresh storylines, then she should stop doing that silly ass racing movie shit that has gotten beyond tiresome.
Adding fuel to this fire was the only black Bond villain ever Yaphet Kotto who starred in 1973’s “Live and Let Die” opposite Roger Moore. Mr. Kotto stated that because Ian Fleming was Irish and that Bond is supposed to be British, then a black man would be an inappropriate choice. His words come on the heels of several rumors that have been swirling that the producer of the last Bond film “Skyfall” is considering picking yummy chocolate thunder Idiris Elba to portray Bond once Daniel Craig calls it quits. I’m quite sure that a number of white people are cheering wildly that some washed up and very ignorant Negro is making their case for them. They love that shit.
I however don’t agree at all with either Michelle or Yaphet. Not because I’m in that big of a hurry to see Peter Parker re-imagined as African-American, I’m actually not. My problem with their words is that Hollywhite has been running out of new ideas for a while. So Michelle’s words ring especially hollow.
But I feel there is something more amiss here. When you are a non-white person growing up in a predominantly white society, particularly one that continuously tells you how worthless you are, it’s very hard to see yourself as a hero or as a love interest, beautiful, smart, charming, capable, etc. Those attributes are solely the property of those that rule.
If that sounds like the mindset of a bully, then so be it. Lord knows black people are not immune to the racial bullying of America by a damn sight. That is why I am extremely disappointed that two people of color are rejecting the notion that they could be playing someone besides the sidekick/best friend/bad guy/token. Let’s cut the crap here, the white powers that be in Hollywhatever are not known for going out of their way to boost the ego of Negroes, other people of color, women, the disabled or anyone who is not a white, Protestant, able bodied straight male. So the idea that a man who happens to be black can actually take on the role of the lead a.k.a. hero, well that must have some folks shitting themselves.
It would most definitely explain the reluctance of some people that frankly should be on board with the hero being a person or man of color. Not that I say this because I find it all that important. Like I stated before, it doesn’t make a difference to me one way or the other. But damn, what the fuck harm could it honestly do? Is the world going to spin out of its axis because there is not a white male playing James Bond? I don’t think so. This is about fear, we have become so conned by the lies and falsehoods that we are starting to believe it ourselves.
It ain’t a coincidence that 99% of horror films since the groundbreaking “Night of the Living Dead” with the exceptional Duane Jones DO NOT have black men in the lead saving the day. Hell, we’d be lucky if they make it past the first 10 minutes.
There was that whole thing with the Bruce Willis smash that also has spawned countless sequels “Die Hard” that featured three different black males that were not in any way a stereotype. My man Reginald VelJohnson who later went on to success on TV as the dad of the Winslow clan on ABCs’ “Family Matters” even got to take down the final bad guy in a great ass kicking scene. However, he and the other black men in the film were still just side players. They weren’t the star. Something I feel is far too daunting a prospect even for us black folk, which is why I believe that Mr. Kotto is so against the idea of a black man beating the shit out of the evildoers while charming the ladies.
When ABCs’ hit show “NYPD Blue” was still on air, black actor James McDaniel who starred as the precinct captain was once asked by talk show host Arsenio Hall why he never did a nude scene. The show, after all, never shied away from showing a number of naked rear ends, including the very pasty and saggy one of Dennis Franz. Mr. Daniel said, and I’m using his words, that perhaps the producers were too afraid of “the dark side of the moon”. This right here is the whole enchilada reason point blank. It scares the hell out of everybody that black people might actually viewed as something besides a lowly criminal thug hoodlum or the help that is a caring shoulder for a white person (usually a woman) to cry on.
White people have zero qualms hiring Negroes when they need a drug dealer, gangbanger or prostitute. Yet when it comes to a positive role model that gets all the glory, they will be damned if one of us gets the chance. We sure as shit don’t see black heroes on the nightly news, internet or cable news outlets. The majority of stories about our current black president Barack Obama have been snide, petty and negative from both sides. Trust when I say that so-called liberal folks didn’t want a Negro stinking up the White House any more than their more bold colleagues on the opposite side. They can’t elevate us to a higher standard in their mentality and obviously, neither can we.
I vividly recall a conversation I overheard at the Laundromat between a patron and the manager. She stated that as the company supervisor she had white males, white females, black males and black females working under her and that NONE of them respect a black woman in charge. We also apparently refuse to see ourselves as anything other than a modern day Stephin Fetchit or Beulah. I don’t remember Yaphet or Michelle getting bent out of shape when Angelina Jolie bronzed her skin to play a real actual woman Marianne Pearl. Or when asshole Billy Crystal kept donning blackface to play Grace Jones, Prince, Sammi Davis Jr. and Tina Turner respectively.
But suggest that a black person can star as a supposedly ‘white’ person and all hell breaks loose. James Bond is fictional. That means anybody of any race can play him just like a WOMAN can play Peter Pan. Oh hell no, I didn’t forget that the wrong gender played Peter Pan on stage for decades without a peep from white folks or Negroes. But as we have seen many times in America previously, if it ain’t white then it damn sure ain’t right.