So I say, you know, I say [Nicole Beharie] could be Brandon’s [Michael Fassbender] girlfriend, but what was interesting about it was the objections about it. People say, “Oh, that wouldn’t happen. That wouldn’t exist.” What? I don’t exist? It was a very odd thing, having these conversations about a love interest that was a black woman with Brandon. It was interesting, that… Also, what fascinates me is that you have lots of American filmmakers, white filmmakers, who have never, ever cast a black person, ever in their movies, and they’ve made quite a lot of movies. So it’s: how can you avoid that? It’s kinda weird. It’s almost like, you know, walking around with a blindfold on. And how can you make movies in this country, consistently make movies, and not cast black characters in the main leads?
Steve McQueen, award-winning director of Shame, on people’s reaction to the casting of a black woman, Nicole Beharie, as the lead (white) character’s love interest (via fuckyeahwhitetv)
I love everything about this quote except him equating his invisibility with hers because it’s not the same. Not saying his is any less significant, but making the black female the “love object” in a mixed cast ensemble isn’t the same as placing a black man in the same position. Chiwetel, Idris, Denzel, Will, Jesse, have been that multiple times. Not many black actresses can say the same.
^ See comments. YES, THIS.
Thinking about this, there are a few things that pop into my head.
According to the recent GQ interview with Michael Fassbender, he is actually dating Nicole Beharie. I do wonder how much of the response McQueen got, regarding Marianne and Brandon, was from white women who were unable to see Marianne as a proxy for themselves. Which is a quagmire of how and why we identify with characters, buried bias, and our ability to move past it.
Shame had a fairly diverse cast where the only two women who weren’t seen as pure objects by the protagonist, were his sister and a WoC.
There are some weird intersections. When you see WoC in onscreen relationships with white men, (and yeah: white women. See Sonia Braga/Kim Cattrall in SATC,) there is often a power dynamic at play that speaks to some very problematic things. How do we parse that? Do we ever address the fact that white woman/MoC relationships often contain just as many problems, sometimes worse stereotypes, and we accept those things readily?
There are issues within non-white communities that I can’t address, because I’m not part of those communities. Am I just as bothered by people saying that it’s not right to have mixed-racial/ethnic/religious couples because they’re trying to preserve the coherence of “Minority” communities as I am when white people say it because they’re trying to preserve the sanctity of white womanhood or the purity of race? Yes, yes I am. I just understand that there is some nuance to it, that I am not equipped to discuss, because it’s not my experience.
Something New is one of the few films I’ve seen to address the issue from the WoC point of view. I’d like to see more of that. I’m trying to recall if Firefly ever had any character comment on Zoë and Wash because Serenity didn’t, and Zoë was definitely the dominant partner in that relationship. The inherent racism of the response to Martha Jones, in Doctor Who, is an object lesson in how white people as viewers have to learn to dig up the bias we may not even know we have and KILL IT WITH FIRE. Some of the responses to Lucy Liu as Joan Watson in Elementary are clearly an example of that as well.
50.4 percent of the US population under the age of 1, and 49.7 percent of the US population under the age of 5, are a minority (not single-race white or Hispanic.)
There are 52 million Hispanic, 43.9 million African-american, and 18 million Asian people in the US. We need to start seeing this reflected on film.
WHY IS THIS STILL EVEN A QUESTION? Oh, yeah: the majority of filmmakers are white men.