And that’s why the role has been taken away from actors of colour and given to a white man. Racebending.com has always pointed out that villains are generally played by people with darker skin, and that’s true … unless the villain is one with intelligence, depth, complexity. One who garners sympathy from the audience, or if not sympathy, then — as from Kirk — grudging admiration. What this new Trek movie tells us, what JJ Abrams is telling us, is that no brown-skinned man can accomplish all that. That only by having Khan played by a white actor can the audience engage with and feel for him, believe that he’s smart and capable and a match for our Enterprise crew.
Marissa Sammy on Star Trek: Into Whiteness.
perfect commentary which parallels what Rawles was saying earlier about the possibility of Moriarty being a person of color:
- “…The actual issue is that black people aren’t often allowed to play full and complete characters, and an antagonist who isn’t unintelligent, thuggish cannon fodder is just as much of a rarity for black men as the stubbly hero who saves the world or wtfever. “
- “…The stereotype in no way intersects with brilliant geniuses who choose to step outside of the boundaries of society in order to exercise their intellect while having no concern for lesser beings.
Or to break it down further: the problematic stereotype regarding black people is that of being, in essence, subhuman. Characters of the Moriarty (and Holmes) archetype are rooted in being superhuman.”
You see? It’s more complicated than “people of color get typecast as villains.”
Black people get typecast as an extremely specific type of villain - they’re thugs, brutish and animalistic. South Asian actors are similarly typecast as scary oppressive (usually coded Muslim) terrorists.
But when your villain is of the superhuman archetype? When they’re brooding antiheroes, when they’re nuanced, when they’re multi-faceted?
(And check out this post on the glorification of white criminality in shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Weeds, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, etc.)
Joan of Arc came back as a little girl in Japan, and her father told her to stop listening to her imaginary friends.
Elvis was born again in a small village in Sudan, he died hungry, age 9, never knowing what a guitar was.
Michelangelo was drafted into the military at age 18 in Korea, he painted his face black with shoe polish and learned to kill.
Jackson Pollock got told to stop making a mess, somewhere in Russia.
Hemingway, to this day, writes DVD instruction manuals somewhere in China. He’s an old man on a factory line. You wouldn’t recognise him.
Gandhi was born to a wealthy stockbroker in New York. He never forgave the world after his father threw himself from his office window, on the 21st floor.
And everyone, somewhere, is someone, if we only give them a chance. Iain S. Thomas, I Wrote This For You (via atramentum)