Over the past year the issue of race has become an even hotter topic than it truly has been within the United States. After the tragic deaths of Michael Brown & Eric Garner, whose deaths are connected to racial discrimination, there’s been an ongoing debate on how the country should begin to correct and resolve the continued and overlooked mistreatment that people of color have endured. One focal point that has been spotlighted is how Latinos, Blacks, and anyone of color are presented by entertainment industry.
Whether on the big screen or on TV, Hollywood has been one of the main social institutions that have seemingly neglected to do anything when it comes to presenting people of color in a better light yet has aided the continued discrimination of people of color by typecasting Black, Latino, and Asian Americans into very stereotypical roles.
One issue regarding the presentation of people of color in film is that there is either not enough representation or when there is presentation it is not one that can be relatable to whichever racial group a particular character or show belongs to. However, it seems Hollywood is trying to change that.
From shows like Empire on Fox that portrays a powerful Black family that dominates the music industry to the CW hit series Jane the Virgin featuring Latina star Gina Rodriguez, there is a shift occurring in Hollywood where characters of color are becoming more presentable. And via film, comic books are another area on how people of color are appearing more on the big and little screens.
In 2011, an implosion began on the pages of comic books where a collection of diverse superheroes began appearing in their own adventures. From Latina America Chavez a.k.a Miss America of the Young Avengers, to Miles Morales who became the first Black-Latino Spider-Man back in 2011,
“One of the things was the joy of knowing that there would be a child out there who would see Spider-Man peel back that mask to see a different face and a face that resembled their own,” describes Axel Alonso, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, when describing how the decision to create a whole new Spider-Man with a person of color donning the mask was to connect with all readers.
Due to Morales popularity in the comics there has been a growing demand among fans wanting to see Morales on the big screen as the web-slinger himself. When the Spider-Man films were being rebooting back in 2012, fans wanted to see Community actor Donald Glover to portray the superhero but despite the demands Sony had given the part to Andrew Garfield. And now with Spider-Man being owned by Marvel Studios it seems that may very well just happen.
With Black & Latino actors becoming more prominent taking on superhero roles there has been speculation regarding Warner Bros. and DC Comics wanting to take popular comic book superhero Green Lantern a revision the hero for the big screen as not only a woman, but a Latina. Although it is mere speculation, the idea to reboot the character for the forthcoming Justice League is said to have actress Michelle Rodriguez in mind.
So, what did the Fast & Furious star have to say to this?
Well, while out in L.A. the star was approached by TMZ and asked her about the potential casting which she laughed and said that was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” and added, “I think it’s so stupid… this whole minorities in Hollywood thing, it’s so stupid. It’s like, stop stealing all the white people’s superheroes. Make up your own.”
Now since making these comments some are taking what Rodriguez has said out of context. Yes, it sounds bad considering it seems she is citing that White actors are losing roles due to an increase of minority actors being cast as traditionally white characters but Rodriguez isn’t wrong. She is actually addressing a much overlooked issue that Hollywood has managed to gloss over.
While Samuel L. Jackson being cast as Nick Fury to <strong.Micheal B. Jordanas Human Torch to Jason Momoa as Aquaman can inspire and be positive representation to youth of color, Rodriguez is pointing out that Blacks & Latinos aren’t being represented truly but being used as some political ploy to attract viewership.
After her comments set off an internet firestorm, Rodriguez took to her Facebook to explain what she meant.
“Instead of turning a girl character into a guy, or instead of turning a white character into a black character or Latin character—I think people should stop being lazy and people in Hollywood should take the time to develop their own mythology.”
She also added that “It’s not about taking Catwoman or Superman or Green Lantern or whatever these characters are and trying to make them fit to whatever cultural background you are…It should be more creative than that.”
Although taking prominent characters and casting actors of a particular background that is different than the former does show some progress in Hollywood not wanting to merely cast people of color into stereotypical roles, Rodriguez does have a point.
While the casting of actors of color into established roles does show actors of any racial background are equal compared to their white counterparts there is something missing. Rather than try to take a well-known character and cast an actor of a specific racial group into order to fit the targeted group’s cultural background, why not take the time and invest in creating a whole new character that will be free of a history that has been established so that Blacks, Latinos, and any other racial group can truly see their community is being viewed as equal within the entertainment world. Doing so wouldn’t only permit connectivity between the community of one group to a character they see on TV but it’ll show there is a willingness to address a situation as opposed to trying to utilize a quick fix to an issue that cannot be tended to without thorough thought and effort.