Colin Liddell, American Renaissance, July 9, 2019
It’s a familiar story by now: White characters and cultural icons are turned black for the movies.
Often it is just floated as a possibility—as with James Bond some years back—perhaps to get attention for a coming release and save money on advertising. But it actually happens often enough. It is reported that the young black actress Halle Bailey (not to be confused with the better known but much older Halle Berry) will be incongruously cast in the role of the red-haired, white-skinned Ariel in The Little Mermaid. This will be a live-action remake of the famous and beloved 1989 Disney cartoon.
This kind of switch always gets the same reactions. Race realists denounce the film as “inauthentic” or find other flaws to quibble about. Liberals, keen to display their race blindness or reverse racism, make exaggerated claims about how wonderful and “vibrant” the film now is, and stress the unimportance of the race of the actor or actress.
These reactions fail to consider two important points. First, this appropriation of white culture by blacks is mostly not being done by blacks but by other whites. Second, the traffic never flows the other way. I can’t think of a single example of a remake in which a black role went to a white.
Most of the people behind the scenes of these white-into-black movies—the directors, the producers, the movie company executives—are white, and often Jewish. Their motives are probably financial, but ideological considerations may also creep in.
An exception may have been the film Annie which came out a few years back. The producers were black: Will Smith, his family, his black business partner, and hip-hop billionaire Jay Z. This represented some sort of progress for blacks, even if the creative types—director/writer Will Gluck and co-writers Aline Brosh McKenna and Emma Thompson—were “hideously white.”
I am yet to learn who will write and direct the new Little Mermaid, but I’m pretty sure it won’t break many patterns. Yet again, a piece of inherently and explicitly white culture will be blacked-up mainly or even totally by whites.
There is a long history of this. Here are a few examples of movies in which formerly white roles were recast with black actors:
- THE PREACHER’S WIFE (1996)
- THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1996)
- DOLITTLE (1998)
- LOVE DON’T COST A THING (2003)
- MAN ON FIRE (2004)
- THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (2004)
- THE HONEYMOONERS (2005)
- FOUR BROTHERS (2005)
- LAST HOLIDAY (2006)
- I AM LEGEND (2007)
- THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 (2009)
- THE KARATE KID (2010)
- DEATH AT A FUNERAL (2010)
This blackwashing also includes secondary characters, such as the Nordic god Heimdall in Thor (2011), Felix Leiter and Moneypenny in recent Bond movies and, most laughably, the medieval character of Morgan Freeman’s Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).
Part of this can be explained by two things: Hollywood recycles material, and blacks have gained a great deal of prominence since the 1960s. But there is something else: In a society that exalts blacks, it would be impossible to restrict them to black roles; their actual cultural creativity has been too low for that. Genuine, original material written by and for blacks is relatively scarce, and many of the most famous black roles—from Othello to Hoke Colburn (the driver in Driving Miss Daisy)—were written by whites.
In a sensible society, the limited cultural contribution of blacks would be reflected in movies, with only a few black actors appearing in general-audience pictures and others in films intended for blacks. This would let black cinema develop its own identity rather than mixing up an authentically white-oriented medium.
There is actually a long record of this. Some 500 all-black “race films” were made in the United States from 1915 and 1952—an astonishing 14 a year. They had titles such as Girl from Chicago, That Man of Mine, Temptation, Lying Lips, and Miracle in Harlem. Often, they explicitly advertised an “all-colored cast” or an “all-star negro cast.”
These were black movies made for black audiences, while Hollywood made white movies for white audiences. The tradition of “race films” has died—with a few exceptions, such as Spike Lee movies and the occasional black-oriented blockbuster such as Black Panther—but blacks now have explicitly black-oriented “Black Entertainment TV” and are taking over traditionally white roles in general entertainment.
When white roles go to blacks, they often ring false, even when they are drastically reinterpreted to try to make the switch seem plausible. I suspect that with Little Mermaid we will hear yet another dull clang.
America is not about fairness or authenticity. Instead it is a moral signaling society that prides itself on spurious egalitarianism in order to maintain a tenuous unity. So, as with food stamps, free healthcare, Obama phones, and other handouts, blacks get the ill-fitting rags, leftovers, and hand-me-downs from the big house of white cultural creativity.