Believe it or not, the #OscarssoWhite movement was only earlier this year, since then, Hollywood has been taken to task about its long history of narrow representation.
People of color have been speaking out for a very long time about our dissatisfaction regarding white washed cinema and despite some strides, some directors/actors remain steadfast in their dated ways.
Tim Burton joins the list of Hollywood bigwigs who avoid the duty of a filmmaker to capture all types of people.
Friday was the release of Burton’s latest film “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and it was yet again a noticeably white cast, save for Samuel L Jackson (who plays the villain in the film).
Jackson himself told a reporter that he that he has “noticed” Burton’s casting decisions but also went on to say: “I had to go back in my head and go, how many black characters have been in Tim Burton movies? And I may have been the first, or the most prominent in that particular way, but it happens the way it happens”.
Funnily enough Tim Burton is known for his gothic, fantasy driven filmmaking, consistently heralded as “different” (as is his equally eccentric and frequently used muse, Johnny Depp). For all of his years trying to tell the stories of the strange and whimsical, its curious that they all seem to look the same.
If movies about children with special powers, a man born with scissors for hands, or a talking skeleton trying to steal Christmas warrants being made, why are putting minorities in them such a stretch?
Burton had this to say in an interview with the website Bustle: ” Nowadays, people are talking about it more….things either call for things, or they don’t”.
As if that wasn’t problematic (or completely dismissive) enough, he goes on to say:
“I remember back in when I was a child watching ‘The Brady Bunch’ and they started getting all politically correct. Like, OK, lets have an Asian and a black. I used to get more offended by that than just….I grew up watching Blaxploitation movies, right? And I just said ‘that’s great’. I didn’t go like ‘OK there should be more white people in these movies”.
Sadly, Burton is not the only director simply too lazy or narrow minded to create a diverse cast.
Ridley Scott dealt with his own controversy when he casted mostly white actors to play Middle Eastern and African characters in Exodus: Gods and Kings and seemed to justify it by saying white actors get films made.
Actor Aziz Ansari publicly called out author Nicholas Sparks saying: “There’s a poster right outside our writer’s room, it’s one of those Nicholas Sparks books where its just two white people just staring at each other. Its like, there’s been 20 of those movies- not once is it a black woman staring into a guy’s eyes. You know everyone has romance in their lives. Its strange that every time its two white people falling in love”.
Conversations like these just speak to the pervasive stereotypes people of color have to deal with when being portrayed. We don’t get the chance to be shown falling in love, being superheroes, getting to be quirky or creative, and so on.
While forced inclusion is cringeworthy, it doesn’t take much to simply acknowledge that there are other people in the world and though we may look different, we are just as capable of being apart of various stories and having universal experiences.