Quantcast

«

»

Mar 26 2012

I Was So Sad She Died Until I Found Out…

…she was black. Jezebel has the story, about Twitter reactions to The Hunger Games movie:

But when it came to the casting of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, many audience members did not understand why there were black actors playing those parts. Cinna’s skin is not discussed in the book, so truthfully, though Lenny Kravitz was cast, a white, Asian or Latino actor could have played the part.

Rue and Thresh, however, are clearly described as having “dark brown skin” in the books. Then there are the tweets:

That’s not the worst. That dishonor falls to “Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad #ihatemyself”.

I’m not even close to coherent on this. I haven’t been since I saw the F&SF crowd tweeting about this this morning. There are two things I need to say to these people, however.

The first is that the next time the public conversation turns back around to the question of whether Hollywood or other mass media is racist, you people need to get back on your little Twitters and tell the world: “Yeah, Hollywood is racist, and it’s racist because I can’t stand paying to see black people, though they pay to see whites all the time.” No more denying the problem or telling people they’re getting upset over nothing. They’re not. They’re upset over you, and they should be.

The other thing you need to know is that we live in a world in which the family of a young man who had been shot and killed searched for their son while he lay in a morgue identified only as “John Doe”, despite having his cell phone in his possession. Your attitude that black people aren’t worth as much, that their deaths aren’t “as sad” and don’t need to be taken as seriously as the deaths of people like you made that sort of thing possible.

The problem with your idea, however, is that this kid’s family did care. His friends cared. His school administrators cared. His girlfriend cared. And that, right now, puts a dead kid far ahead of where you’re going to be if you don’t find some way to fix that attitude of yours. His death was so sad it’s moved a country. Yours won’t be.

25 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Dalillama

    When I read things like this my brain just grinds to a halt. I literally cannot conceive of what is going on in these people’s heads. There’s this huge vein of really ugly shit right under the surface of a lot of people’s minds, and I cannot comprehend where it comes from.

  2. 2
    michaeld

    >.O … what. the. hell…

  3. 3
    unbound

    Usually the racist are the less educated and less thoughtful. Hopefully they were called out for what they are…racist. I would guess Maggie is just plain ignorant. The second may have an idea that he is a racist, but really needs his friends to step up and drive that point home (that he is indeed a racist) and to stop being a dumbbutt (or she if that is the case).

  4. 4
    Buffy

    People really are messed up.

  5. 5
    WilloNyx

    The problem with your idea, however, is that this kid’s family did care. His friends cared. His school administrators cared. His girlfriend cared. And that, right now, puts a dead kid far ahead of where you’re going to be if you don’t find some way to fix that attitude of yours. His death was so sad it’s moved a country. Yours won’t be.

    This right here. Beautiful.

  6. 6
    Michael Brew

    Sometimes I have to be reminded that blatant racism still exists. This does the trick.

  7. 7
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Stephanie:
    This day started off so well. Reading stories about atheist parents raising their children with humanistic moral values, court trials starting for catholic priest child rapists, and the failure of NOM to put a dent in Starbucks support for marriage equality made me smile and happy. It’s a shame there isn’t more of that. I feel like this post has smacked me out of the happy place; back down to reality.
    How is it that people reading the Hunger Games novels missed the descriptions of the characters? Did they gloss over sections describing ‘olive skin’?
    I just posted a link on FB to the story with a reminder that racism still exists.

  8. 8
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    How the hell is it “less sad” when a black person dies? Does their skin color really make them worth any less than a person with pale skin? I sure as hell don’t think so!

  9. 9
    NewEnglandBob

    This kind of thing gets me angry and depressed. The racists and the willfully ignorant outnumber us sane people.

  10. 10
    Alverant

    So is Hollywood being racist because that’s what people appear to want or is Hollywood actually shaping people’s desires?

    I just got the DVD set of a late 80s cartoon COPS where the main character/leader is black. I noted it when I first watched it and thought, “So he’s black, so what?” Now as an adult I’m paying more attention and wondering if this hurt the show’s popularity or if there was some backlash against it. (Also I’d swear some other major and minor characters were gray-skinned.)

    The series does show some of its age like the lack of cell phones in 2020, but it’s still good.

  11. 11
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Back in ’99 the first book of a new Star Wars series of books came out. In the book, Vector Prime, the character of Chewbacca was killed. It was common to hear some express that, if LucasArts was really set on killing someone off, it should have been Lando Calrissian. It was always Lando, the most well- known of the rather few black characters, that was the go to character to be killed off.

  12. 12
    Dendritic Trees

    What would possess you to put something like that on twitter.
    I’ve had bigoted thoughts before, some related to race, sometimes I still do. I admit it, but I am not proud of it and when I realise that I’ve been bigoted I’m ashamed. I try my best to be aware of these things and work on changing my habits of thought so I won’t do it any more.
    Unfortunately getting rid of all the stupid is hard, I try my best, I’m sure I sometimes screw up and offend people, and I hope they have it in their hearts to correct me when I do.
    It doesn’t matter if you stick #ihatemyself afterwards, that’s like a stupid middle school girl who thinks they can say whatever they like because it won’t count if they say ‘no offense’ or ‘just kidding’ afterwards. If you really hated yourself for thinking it, you’d keep it to yourself and put some mental energy into making sure you never thought it again.

  13. 13
    fredericksparks

    “How the hell is it “less sad” when a black person dies? Does their skin color really make them worth any less than a person with pale skin? I sure as hell don’t think so!”

    I heard this with respect to the rodney king beating vs the reginald denny beating. A white person actually told me that the king beating just didn’t seem “as bad”….black skin seems more impervious to pain….

  14. 14
    Pen

    Rue is my favourite character! For each one of these idiots there are going to be more white people who will be ‘surprised’ to find that the actress playing her is black but will adapt their ideas sub-consciously or otherwise, more who won’t even be surprised, and more who will wonder why Hollywood doesn’t cast like this more often. I admit I had imagined Rue as the kind of dark-haired, olive-skinned European type I was and grew up around, but then I think I sub-consciously reset the entire book in Europe, even though it is explicitly American. Does this piece of casting change my feelings? Not about Rue, but it tends to bring the story out of the realm of pure fantasy into a more explicit confrontation with reality and American society – you know, the way dystopian fantasies are supposed to work. Wow, could it be that for once Hollywood is doing the film of the book right??

  15. 15
    Docsarvis

    When I was younger I was naive enough to believe we’d be past racism by now. This reminds me we will never get past racism.

    Sigh.

    Sometimes I want to just buy a house in the woods and let the world fall apart around me, but then I remind myself we can never quit fighting these ignorant bigots because if we give up they will win.

  16. 16
    Godless Heathen

    Tony,

    “Did they gloss over sections describing ‘olive skin’?”

    Clearly they did. But, so did the directors. Katniss and Gale were both described as olive-skinned with black hair in the books. The actors that play them are white (yes, Jennifer Lawrence had her hair died. Still, though).

  17. 17
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    It pains me to think how these kinds of people would react if the second novel I’m writing ever got turned into a movie. My heroes for that story are: a black man, a dark-skinned elf, a feline sem (looks like a catgirl,) and a tallis (a draconic humanoid.)

  18. 18
    had3

    A minor correction: his death didn’t move the country, it’s the lack of justice that moved the country. If Zimmerman would have been arrested that night, Martin’s death would not be on the coutry’s radar. And that may be an even greater tragedy.

  19. 19
    Crazyharp81602

    My dad was a racist when I grew up. If memory serves me right, my dad used to regard African Americans as “N-words” when they were seen dancing around Harpo Marx in “At The Circus” and years later he used to make derogatory comments about a homeless person walking the streets with only scraps of paper tied around her feet as shoes. Even Gary my big brother got into the mix and start swearing and making derogatory remarks right after he learn those words while listening to an early Robin Williams 8-track tape. Back then I didn’t understand that these words are unacceptable. But now I know what they have said and what was learned was indeed unacceptable. If dad would’ve lived today (He passed away in 2000) I would’ve told him that and he should knock it off.

  20. 20
    Sas

    It pains me to think how these kinds of people would react if the second novel I’m writing ever got turned into a movie. My heroes for that story are: a black man, a dark-skinned elf, a feline sem (looks like a catgirl,) and a tallis (a draconic humanoid.)

    I doubt they’d notice since the black man and dark-skinned elf would both be cast as white blondes in the movie and the book cover.

    Sorry, that’s not helpful, but I’m pretty much drowning in cynicism today. I do want to read your novel now, though.

  21. 21
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Sas:

    Ahahah… yea, you’re probably right. Of course, given my requirement for accuracy I’ll be sure they know “Kamme is black! Adan is very dark-skinned!” and have them repeat it a billion times!!

  22. 22
    Art

    The same commentary was made of the Star Trek TV series over the inclusion of the black character Nyota Uhura. The inclusion of black people violated a lot of fantasies of a white universe. The inclusion of Checkov, a Russian, and Sulu, an Asian was also worrying but for some but those objections were much more muted and got lost, as did ultimately the objection to a black bridge office, once the conservatives got a load of the plot lines which were thinly veiled liberal morality plays. Plot lines I happened to love.

    Of course what needs to be understood is that when Star Trek was in its first run the nation was still pounding out both race and cold war relations and this ugliness bleeding into entertainment was seen a problematic.

  23. 23
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    I’ve not quite finished reading the book, but Rue and Thresh are very obviously black. They both have “dark brown skin”, duh! Cinna could be anything; my mental picture is medium-dark. Though I’m not sure where I got that from, and I was looking for a description since I started the book after reading the Jezebel article. Maybe just the Cinna=cinnamon idea. I don’t buy Katniss as non-white, though. She’s got grey eyes, and her family are described as light-haired and blue-eyed. Olive skin covers a huge range of people, including me & Tom Jones (both Welsh), and most Mediterraneans.

  24. 24
    ischemgeek

    @Athena: Also my dad (German/white South African/Scottish). Dad’s skin color is like leather.

    I read the book – I imagined Katniss as mixed-race (First Nations/Caucasian – I know a lot of half-Maliseet and half-Mi’qmaw people who have grey or blue eyes, blonde hair – for the rest of her family – and olive skin, so it’s where I went mentally when I read the combination). Rue and Thresh, I’ve always pictured as black, and Cinna as Guatemalan (he reminds me of a Guatemalan dude I know).

    Hayminch, I pictured as William Shatner. XD

  25. 25
    smrnda

    I think people ‘miss’ the ethnicities of non-white characters in fiction, unless it’s pointed out in an incredibly obvious way – is that they have this attitude that everybody of consequence is white by default and that minorities are normally just included as tokens.

    I just can’t understand how someone being cast as Black would ‘ruin’ anything; I’d feel that something had be more ruined if Hollywood removed minority characters or made them white, since that would fall into my general thinking about how Hollywood works.

    When I try to figure out characters in fiction, I tend to accept that I can’t possibly get it exactly right unless the author is really explicit, and I also know that I know lots of people whose ethnicity would be very hard to determine. I also tend to think that it’s kind of rude to ask ‘hey, what ethnicity are you?’ as anyone I’ve known in life who got asked that question usually told me that it pissed them off a lot. It’s the kind of thing that if a person wants me to know and I can’t figure out, I’ll find out if they choose to tell me.

    Some of that might bother people since if they can’t tell what ethnicity a person is, they know they have to be extra on guard against saying racist shit since it *might* apply to the person sitting there.

    Speaking of racism in movies, I have heard (and sometimes observe) that films which are likely to appeal to a Black audience are released not on weekends but typically on Wednesday. Does anybody know anything about this? I’ve noted that a few films – like Ghost Dog directed by Jim Jarmusch, came out on Wednesday. I only remember this because a friend of mine pointed it out that day but I haven’t heard any formal confirmation since then.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>