Thank God some among the Hollywood crowd, Tim Burton and Samuel L. Jackson, have a bit of common sense and are willing to tell the truth.
“Things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct. Like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black. I used to get more offended by that than just… I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”
That’s Burton’s response to claims that his latest movie is excessively white and lacks a diversity of actors with varying degrees of melanin. You see, skin pigmentation is a big deal in today’s Hollywood.
I had the same reaction when Star Trek: Voyager cast black actor Tim Russ as a brother-from-the-hood Vulcan. Okay, he was more like a soul brother from Harvard without much personality, but anyway.
I had and have nothing against Tim. But, man, the casting reeked of pandering to particular demographics. I can imagine the meetings at Paramount. We gotta try and draw in these groups. We gotta have a black man, an Asian, a Native American, a woman or two of color, a woman as captain, etc. It was so blatantly obvious.
When I blurted out my opinion one evening in the community room where the TV was situated of a boarding house where I was living at the time, a young black man could not believe my comments, and thinking me racist, looked at me and scoffed incredulously. He was upset, but speechless.
Then, he abruptly left, rather than hang with the likes of me. I didn’t have a chance to explain and clarify. I was sad that my comments had been misconstrued.
This was before I had seen Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the disastrous vanity project of William Shatner, who pushed hard to direct. Hey, we gave Spock a shot and he did well, so why not? Well, Shatner is no Leonard Nimoy.
Anyway, the film had a scene showing Spock’s birth and included black actors portraying Vulcans. But it was brief. Seeing Vulcans who weren’t pale faced was new. Thankfully, the scene did not emanate the stench of brownnosing¹ that came later with Voyager.
Tim Burton echoes my very sentiments that day. A voice in the wilderness. Amen, brother.
1. No pun intended. But it is the perfect word for this sentence.