Why We Need More Black Fiction
In the last few years, there has definitely been an increase in award-winning black films. However, the themes of these movies are getting a bit repetitive. Let me explain: Most of these films that are being recognized and awarded focus on the struggle of black people in society, both in the past and present. Now, I know these subjects are very important to display in mainstream media, because black history is consistently being forcibly swept under a rug and there is constant denial of the oppression of black people, but I’m tired of these being the only kinds of movies that get praise. I’m tired of these very realistic stories, fiction or not. I'm tired of sad, black, visual media. We need some balance.
We live in a society where white actors have a variety of roles they can play. They can play any role from an activist to a wizard to a whole different race (*cough* Emma Stone *cough* Scarlett Johansson *cough* Benedict Cumberbatch *cough*) On top of that, they can be the lead, no matter how obscure the universe of the movie is. When it comes to black actors (or honestly, any actor of color) starring in a movie with a character of no historical background, they face strife from fans.
The only time no one complains about a movie having a black lead or major supporting character is when the movie has historical context about black social struggles. For example: people were outraged when Idris Elba was announced as a candidate to be the next James Bond, because James Bond (a fictional character) can't possibly be black. I bet you if the James Bond was a slave or a civil rights activist, no one would bat an eye to him playing the role. I think the main issue here is that there is a lack of variety when it comes to films starring people of color.
I feel that any movie featuring a cast of mostly people of color is drama-filled in some way. The storyline always includes someone dying; someone coming from an abusive background; someone killing someone else; or straight-up poverty. Mind you, I understand that these are all important topics that need to be talked about and brought to light, but these kinds of movies should not the only kinds that actors of color should be limited to.
Is it too much to ask to have a film like the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy starring people of color? Is it too much to ask for there to be a high school drama starring black people that did not involve drug dealing and gang activity? We need more films like the Black Panther movie coming out later next year.
I want to emphasize that I believe this should be happening to films that involve all people of color. I wanna see an Indian secret agent, an Asian superhero, a black gay prince, a Latinx wizard. I want us as a society to get to level where, if we see a new movie coming out and we disagree with the lead, our supporting argument is not “They can’t play [insert character], because they are not white,” when it is a purely fictional role with no historical background. The next movie I see with a cast of black people, I’m just hoping it involves unicorns and mermaids.