Angelina Jolie is hot. Black women are hot. Ergo, Angelina Jolie is a black woman. Well, that’s what Hollywood seems to think, at least.
Before its film adaptation was released earlier this summer, I’d never heard of the comic series Wanted. So it was a shock to discover that Fox, Jolie’s character, was black in the comics. But after doing a little more research, I found that the filmmakers were deviating from the source material. And besides, roles like this should be color-blind, right?Well, I just got my hands on the screenplay for Wanted. Guess how the screenwriters described Fox in her introduction.
“The hottest black woman on the planet,” eh?
Don’t get me wrong, I think Angelina Jolie is [jadapinkett]FIONE[/jadapinkett]. And any movie that contains a Jolie nude scene is A-okay by me. The problem is, the role was written specifically with a black woman in mind, yet a black woman was obvs not cast in the role.
This makes me think about how black actresses are consistently left out of summer blockbuster fare. Sure, detractors will bring up shit like Catwoman, which starred Halle Berry, arguably the biggest black actress in Hollywood and was based on a well-known DC comic property. But should just one critical and commercial failure really serve as the mass-appeal barometer for audience desire to see black women on the big screen, especially in big-budget tentpole flicks? (In a bit of irony, the original Fox character seems to be based on Berry’s portrayal of Catwoman.)
Aw man, quit yer goddamn bitchin’. They cast Morgan Freeman as Sloan, and the character was originally a white guy in the comics.
Yeah, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that black actresses are constantly getting the shit-end of the stick. And there’s no shortage of talented and beautiful black actresses either. Sure, we’ve got a select few that may headline or play a major part in an ensemble. Halle, Latifah, Jada, Angela, Beyonce. But what about those we rarely get to see showcase their talents in movies other than hip-hop romances or Tyler Perry morality plays? I mean women like Zoe Saldana, Gabrielle Union, Thandie Newton, Taraji P. Henson, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Nicole Ari Parker, Leila Arcieri, Meagan Goode, Lauren London, Tamala Jones, Malinda Williams, Paula Jai Parker, Monica Calhoun, and Regina Hall. When are these ladies going to be offered roles like Fox, or Rachel Dawes, or Mary Embrey?
Margeaux Watson over at EW ponders the same thing:
African-American women rarely get above-the-title billing in mainstream movies that pull in big numbers. Even when they do end up in supposedly plum roles as the love interest of a white male, most of their screen time is spent talking about and dealing with the fallout of that relationship
But she also takes it a bit further:
Why is it that once an actor like Smith reaches A-list status, Hollywood never seems to pair him with a black actress in a potential blockbuster? From Denzel Washington (“Training Day“) to Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson (“The Game Plan“), leading African-American actors have been increasingly matched with non-black love interests. The sci-fi comedy “Meet Dave” (out now) finds Eddie Murphy romancing Elizabeth Banks, while Smith is paired with Latina actress Rosario Dawson in his next film, “Seven Pounds” (out in December). It’s obviously a strategy to make these films as accessible as possible to all audiences, but I think it also expresses an implicit fear: A film featuring the coupling of a black actor and actress is too ”urban” for the masses.
C’mon, Hollywood, this is tired territory. Haven’t you redone “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” enough? Why can’t black actresses play lead roles in benign romantic comedies like “27 Dresses” and “Made of Honor” — or “Hitch”? Here’s the real hitch: Until women like Nia Long and Gabrielle Union are cast opposite big guns like Smith and Washington, they’ll never gain the recognition they need to open their own films
Come on, Hollywood. Let’s fix this.