Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hit cinemas on Friday and has been getting much attention, but for all the wrong reasons. Tim Burton’s latest movie has sparked controversy about diversity and whitewashing in Hollywood.
The film has received criticism for its predominantly white cast. Millions of people who lived in the United Kingdom during World War II, like the protagonists in Miss Peregrine do, were born in India, Jamaica, Pakistan, and several African countries.
Apparently, Tim Burton and his casting director obviously weren’t looking for historical accuracy, or just weren’t interested in a more diverse group of actors. The Beetlejuice director’s response during an interview with Bustle regarding Miss Peregrine did not help at all.
In the midst of an intense diversity debate raging around Hollywood, Burton claims that casting a black or Asian actor for the sake of making everyone happy is more offensive than excluding them. He added he grew watching blaxploitation movies, made for an urban black audience and that he never said they should have white people in them.
Social media blasts Burton and Samuel L. Jackson comes to the rescue
Many fans slammed Burton’s comments labeling him as a racist. They also expressed concerns about Burton viewing the growing emphasis on diversity in films as being the real oppression. The Screen Junkies Show host, Hal Rudnick, even changed the movie’s name to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar White Children.
Other people think differently. They claim Burton’s diversity problem isn’t race-related by pointing out he always works with the same three actors. The trio is none other than Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Paul Reubens.
Samuel L. Jackson, the only non-white actor in Miss Peregrine, defended Burton. Even though Jackson admitted there hadn’t been many black characters in Tim Burton movies, he doesn’t think there’s a reason for it and that Burton is a great guy.
In fact, Jackson is the first black actor to land a leading role in a Tim Burton film. The director has made 36 movies so far. In his previous 35 directing credits, only two black actors come to mind but in supporting parts. Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent in Batman, and Michael Clarke Duncan as Colonel Attar in Planet of the Apes.
What is Hollywood’s whitewashing?
It is true that Miss Peregrine is only a fantasy film, but one that’s also a period adaptation. Hence, its setting called for a more diverse cast. However, things could be worse. Whitewashing is another major issue in Hollywood. Whitewashing is when white actors get cast in non-white character roles.
One recent example of whitewashing was director Ridley Scott’s statement about his Exodus: Gods and Kings film. The movie featured characters of Middle Eastern and North African descent portrayed by an all-white cast. Scott said that Exodus needed famous actors to get financed.
Other cases of whitewashing include The Lone Ranger, 21, Gods of Egypt, Charlie Chan Carries On, Othello, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Mighty Heart, Pan, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and The Last Airbender.
Miss Peregrine to top box office despite the controversy
Based on the 2011 bestseller of the same name by Ransom Riggs, Tim Burton’s adaptation should beat Deepwater Horizon in this weekend’s box office race despite the controversy. Both films debuted on Friday.
Projections expect Miss Peregrine to gross $25–30 million from 3,522 theaters in its opening weekend. It has already garnered $1.2 million from its Thursday night previews at 3,000 theaters.
The film stars Asa Butterfield in the lead role of Jacob, Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, and Samuel L. Jackson as Barron, the villain. It has received mixed reviews from critics. They have labeled it as a visually stunning movie with a lack of narrative depth.
Source: Los Angeles Times