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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Attitude Adjustment Required Before A WRINKLE IN TIME Comes Out

Isn't this beautiful!  So many big stars, ethnicities, and different skin-shades all in one movie!

You know what? I'm sure that's what white folks see. But I'm actually being sarcastic. 

To tell you the truth, beauty in variety is what I would see in this ethnically diverse movie--if there was a black actress in the movie aside from Oprah who probably won't get 10 minutes worth of screen time as one of three outer space/inner-space Fairy-Godmother-type characters (I'm assuming).

Then again, Mbatha-Raw might be black too. She is mixed race by biology and not from this country, but I think I've seen her at the black woman's OSCAR party every year.  I think she identifies as black.

But my not being freaking sure that's she is black is a problem -- when I'm trying to support a black woman's second big feature film. 

I don't care about Mbatha-Raw ethnicity per se. But when I see a black woman like Ava DuVernay is making a film, I'm not open to mystery ethnicity in a cast until after I've seen black actresses that I know are black ON SIGHT getting top billing. And that didn't happen here.

So far, it looks like this movie may as well have been made by yet another colorism suffering black male director.  

Yeah. I know I sound pissy. That's only because I am pissed, though.
I was looking forward to this. I was cheering for Ava. She gave us Nova, in the ever so nuanced QUEEN SUGAR, who even looks like she's getting a black male love interest now. But I wanted more. I wanted Ava to be Shonda like. 
I wanted more and more black women (who you know are black for sure) to show up in her projects as she became more powerful in a white system. I wanted to see projects with a diverse long as I see black women in every single project somewhere.
 Unlike Shonda, I was hoping black men would show up as love interests...but never too central to the story as black male film makers have done to black women (mostly light-skinned) for decades now -- and not just out of revenge either. When a black male character gets too central to any black story the black female characters wind up getting elbowed in the face and pushed aside. 

All this is why I had dreams for Ava's work

I had glorious digitally color dreams

And Ava crushed those dreams when she hired Mbatha-Raw....whom I do actually like. 
She was great in the movie BELLE. She was good in BEYOND THE LIGHTS. And I think I've seen in other things I liked her in too. However, the minute Ava DuVernay chose Gugu Mbatha Raw to be the mother of the main character opposite the white Chris Pine, the little black girl movie I was dreaming of was done for.
Gugu is good but she ain't right for this movie. And Ava DuVernay crushed my dreams by hiring her.

SELMA didn't really have any black women in it - except for a mixed race actress that appropriately played a light-skinned Coretta Scott King (who wasn't in the film much at all) So I just assumed that Ava DuVernay, a black female (who looks black herself) was going to center her next feature film-- that happened to be about a little girl-- on a little black girl. 

I was just so sure that I was going to finally see a little black girl movie. I was dead certain that I was going to get Little Black Girl Magic in the movie theater.

I needed a little black girl movie 

to make up for all the ones I didn't get as a child 
and for 
all the little black girls 
who are still little black girls right now
who can get what I missed.

But now I'm so ticked off. Can you believe this mess?

I've only ever seen one movie was entirely about a little black girl. That movie was CROOKLYN which was kind of an observation of a black family. It really wasn't about the little girl herself though she narrated the story as I recall. And this was a Spike Lee Joint, so there was probably more than a little bit of sexism in it somewhere.  
The only other little black girl movie I remember being on the big screen for more than 60 seconds was the opening of Zoe Saldana's COLUMBIANA.  The little black girls had an action sequence that was kinda awesome -- because it was a little black girl that looked black...and I'd never seen that before.
When Disney finally gave us a black princess in THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG and Tiana was cooking and cleaning and working to open a restaurant in the first 20 minutes  and spent the majority of the rest of the movie as  frog surrounded by black stereotypes. 
I've completely blocked out that first movie with Quevenzhane Wallis, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WгугILDS. And I always hated that empty-eyed Annie comic, gave me the creeps. So I didn't watch the movie.  
Black girls are pretty much skipped over at the movies. 
And when I say skipped over, I mean pretty much e-raced.  One little black girl per 1,000 movies. I think I may have seen a single little black girl in the background of one Harry Potter Movies. And that's a big maybe. I don't think I saw a black girl speak in one of the Harry Potter movies --and there were seven of those jokers with a hundred kids each 
For sure I haven't ever seen a little black girl star in something fantasy/sci-fi.
All of this little black girl e-race-sure is why I was kinda jumping up and down when I heard Ava DuVernay was making a fantasy/sci-fi thing that's centered on a little girl.  Ava is black. She's pro-black. She has all women directing QUEEN SUGAR. Of course, I thought there was going to be a black girl playing the lead role.

I didn't assume she was going to be dark-skinned but I did expect her to fail the paper bag test by miles and miles. In my wildest nightmares I did not go to IMDB to investigate the little actress with the cool name, Storm Reid, and expect to see this and think...

Storm Reid
(1st/main photo on

"What is she?"

 Again, when I hear a feminist, pro-black woman like Ava DuVernay is making a film, I'm not open to mystery ethnicity casting until after I've seen black actresses that I know are black ON SIGHT getting top billing. 

This is the central character, no matter how many people out-rank her stardom wise on any cast list you might see. This is THE star of a feminist black woman movie and my first f***ing question is "What is she?"

I wasn't even sure Storm Reid was half black or one-quarter black.

All this time, blood, sweat, and tears getting a black woman as high as we've gotten Ava DuVernay and my first question upon seeing the actress is "What is she?" same as any black man making a movie --who usually goes out to find the lightest of light chicks he can find.

Again, I love Gugu Mbatha Raw. She's pretty. She's talented. And, I like the movies she chosen to be in so far. But the minute she was cast as the mother opposite Chris Pine, a white man, who was cast as father, that meant the star of the entire movie had to be paler than pale for white folks (who make or break a movie) to understand the story. 

White people do not understand that there's no telling what shade the child will be in a mixed race relationship. I've met children with one black parent and one white parent with hair coily as mine and just about as dark--and I'm dark. But when you're trying to get a diverse audience that's mostly white, even a medium black girl child would have thrown near 70% of the desired audience into a tizzy.

The minute Ava went for Mbatha-Raw this movie was done for as far as having a black girl central character.

No I don't know what Storm Reid identifies as and I'm not sure I care anymore than Ava DuVernay does. She's a small child. She gets to make up her mind later in life. I was looking for a little black girl to carry an entire feature film -- one that I don't have look up her identity on google.

Ava DuVernay let me down.

I hope she let other black folks down too

This is strike 2 for Ava in my book. 

Her first film, I WILL FOLLOW, that she made with friends, starred Sally Richardson and was almost entirely cast by light-skinned folk....which is disturbing if all her female friends happen to be light-skinned. 
The next movie that I saw of Ava's seemed to involved a deliberate choice of a dark-skinned woman. MIDDLE OF NOWHERE is a film about a woman who trying to put her life on hold while her man is in prison...for years. So I think those two films balance out, that she's not dark-skin phobic when it comes to black women. 
I think DuVernay makes very makes very conscious choices when it comes to color. You can see that so obviously in QUEEN SUGAR.   
So what the hell happened with A WRINKLE IN TIME?
DuVernay might have a problem that leads to the same choices that the colorism soaked black male or white supremacist person might make. 

Ava has admitted, in so many words, that she is anglophile -- or at least overly fond of British actors. She thinks British actors are much better at their craft.  I'm not sure if she's right or wrong, but  I chastised a fellow blogger for wanting to dismiss DuVernay's SELMA outright for a snooty interview she gave about preferring British actors. But I might have been premature in that chastisement. 
If DuVernay likes British actors better than black american actors. And Britain doesn't produce anything but very light-skinned actresses (as far as I can tell), then all we're going to see out of DuVernay is light-skinned actresses.
So maybe Storm Reid's pale coloring is secondary to her natural accent? Maybe she's British too? Has anybody heard Reid talk?  This little girl was in 12 YEARS A SLAVE, which was made by a black man from Britain. Reid really could be British. That might have been the most attractive thing about her and her paleness is just a side effect of British White Supremacy's tendency to not let anything without white features grace there television or movie screens.

So I'm going to adjust my attitude.  Because I'm tired of the pattern.
Some of these women are mixed race. Some of them aren't. Some of them are very pro-black. And some of them? I've been following their careers since they were children too. And, I'll be a supporter of some of these comparatively older women for the rest of my life because they broke ceilings. But all of them have experienced light privilege with black and white filmmakers...and I'm kinda done now.

Ava Du Vernay let me down here

And I'll have to get over it...again.

Ava DuVernay gave me QUEEN SUGAR. I'm not going to abandon her over a cascading casting mistake. But this movie better be good. 

Here's the trailer:


*Not at the movie theater, but on Netflix:   DEIDRA AND LANEY ROB A TRAIN was just cotton candy cute. I loved it. Don't know about the social message though. Whatever, I'm not raising a kid. It was cute. I think you should check it out.

updated 7 16 17 10:25AM