I’m sorry Mr Jackson…

Did anyone else hear the distant rumbles of disquiet emanating from the world of the perennial fake smile, also known as Acting?  If not, have your cups ready, because I’m about to serve, not Lovely’s piping hot tea, but a witch’s brew.  So apparently someone has like finally decided to say something about America’s involvement in the mass importation of foreign born Black Africans Actors; more specifically those from Britain.  That someone was Samuel L. Jackson, and I believe him to be…how shall I put it?  Displeased.  His gripe is, that much like America’s car industry, many of Black Hollywood’s meatiest roles are now being outsourced to cheaper foreign counterparts…or something like that.   With the the ‘facts’ out of the way (sort of), let me get right to the serious and sticky business of my thoughts on the matter…

While the stormy and difficult plight of the overprivileged nearly always rates highly on my personal barometer of concern.  The sympathy box, which I store right behind the last can of My heart bleeds soup; seems to be running curiously low.

For the record, as a Black Brit, the success of my peers across the pond, made me feel nothing but pride and excitement.  Until 12 Years a Slave…  That, is when I believe, I first thought that those in film were beginning to make bizarre and ultimately jarring choices behind the scenes.  Here we had two Brits one of Nigerian and the other of West Indian descent and a Kenyan born Mexican taking centre stage in telling the story of the African American experience.  While it is clear to me that (sadly) the common threads of Colonial Rule, Subjugation and the struggle for Autonomy run through the entirety of the African Diaspora.  The scars that have been etched on to our souls all differ slightly.  In truth, when I saw that Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta, would be played by British actors, I was deeply disturbed.  Europe seemed an awfully long way to go, in search of actors capable and willing to tell the stories of individuals, so deeply woven in to the fabric of Black America.

The question is; was Samuel L. Jackson right to call this out?  I’m going to say no and here is why.  Jackson has fixed his ire at Jordan Peele’s casting of Daniel Kaluuya in the masterpiece that is Get Out.  However the Hollywood fetish for exotic negroes, did not begin in Black film, and here I think Uncle Sam is guilty of being disingenuous.  Jackson knows very well that he, like many others who frequent the highest echelons of Black Hollywood, made a fatal mistake.  It is the same mistake made by every house negro that ever there was; believing that the preferential treatment he  received stemmed from a place of genuine regard.  That is the real problem here; the elites like no one, and foolish is the Black Actor who fails to realise that the exchange of African Americans for Black Brits is nothing more than a game of power.  Hollywood’s key players are much like slave owners who thought that an auction would be the best way to deal with a slave who got too big for his boots.  Their continental casting choices should serve as a reminder to Black Thespians everywhere, that Hollywood is not in fact ‘our’ house, but ‘theirs’.  It is all very well for John Boyega to brush aside Jackson’s comments, but my hope (though it is a vain one) is that he will come to the conclusion that if America can turn on its own, it will surely not spare the rod when it comes to outsiders.

There is another reason why Jackson’s comments trouble me.  They are a clear indication of the unhealthy dependency Black’s have on the elite.  Jackson is essentially saying that Massa is doing him wrong.  Hello, Massa has been doing the same thing for 400 years, and it pains me to hear a grown man whining.  Mr Jackson I put this to you, instead of relying on the very people who have shown nothing but contempt and disregard for you; start a revolution, start a production company, start a studio, start a film school.  Yes, I hear you, it won’t start out as big or as shiny as what they have over there.  But I can tell you one thing Mr Jackson; it will be ours…

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