What's better? No minorities cast in a major film? Or token minorities only?

True, but it’s worth noting that the Moors of Northern Africa/Barbary Coast racially have more in common with Arabs than they do with sub-Saharan “black” Africans. So, if you’re really looking for the casting to be “historically accurate” Morgan still might not have been the best possible choice.
It’s also very popular to cast a Black actor as Othello. Shakespeare refers to Othello as black but Shakespeare may very well have never seen a Moor and in his age Englishmen probably thought of anybody darker than an Italian to be “black”.

True, but there’s nothing to say that he ** couldn’t** have looked like a “black” African, as trade, slavery and interbreeding occured. It liked saying Vanessa Williams can’t be African-American because African-Americans are usually “X” shade of brown. While ignoring the interbreeding that occured in American history.

But I don’t think that most people who have complains with Freeman in Robin Hood, have any idea that there was a Moor in the story or what a Moor even looks like.

But they are quick to use their ignorance as proof of the “re-writing” of history by the PC’ers…

Okay. On the flip side, howsabout Don Cheadle? Inexplicably popular actor whose continual appeal eludes me, who has appeared as the only black (male) face in Boogie Nights, Volcano, The Rat Pack and Mission To Mars.

I was a bit surprised no one had an opinion re: Morgan Freeman being cast as essentially the co-star in “Shawshank” since his character in the Stephen King novella was originally a redheaded Irishman.

For the record, I might have seen that movie without Morgan Freeman in the role, since I liked each story in Four Past Midnight, but his casting in the part assured that I’d see it (three times now, in fact.)

Now that I think about it, Morgan Freeman is something of an Ultimate Token Barrier-Breaker. He, along with Whoopi Goldberg and Eddie Murphy, have been in a bunch of movies where they’re often the only black face in sight and their roles were often originally considered for white performers.

I don’t like movies or shows that obiously have “The Black Friend,” but I appreciate shows that make an attempt to realistically show the ethnic makeup of the place they’re set. Trying to re-write history and historical attitudes is just an insult to everyone.

I am not particularly happy with the “mystical minority” helm being passed on to blacks from Asians and Native Americans.

Askia writes:

> Okay. On the flip side, howsabout Don Cheadle? Inexplicably
> popular actor whose continual appeal eludes me, who has
> appeared as the only black (male) face in Boogie Nights,
> Volcano, The Rat Pack and Mission To Mars.

Well, given that there was only one black in the Rat Pack, it’s not surprising that there should be only one black actor cast in the movie about them.

Wendel. while I thought I’d throw in an obvious reason, there’s still no reason why he had to appear in the other three at all.

No reason, Askia? Not even monetary for the studios?
But seriously, say for instance you happen to walk into a bar on Saturday night. You look around and see 12 men and women who are white.
And you see one Hispanic guy. Is he a token. No it’s just the odds.
So why is it tokenism when you transfer the same situation to the screen?

Now if you would just rather not have to look at a Hispanic guy, well that’s another issue.

What about the fact that he’s a good actor and studios want him to appear in their movies?

And jimpatro is right. It bothers me when the subject of tokenism in movies comes up because real life is often like that.

Yeah. I for example have three white friends, one black, one chinese, and one hispanic. Two of them are women and one of them is handicapped. One’s a real brain and the other kind of stupid but we all are blind to our differences and love each other. Funny thing, though, none of us have any idea how we all became friends. It just kind of happened one day.

Askia writes:

> . . . Inexplicably popular actor . . .

Let me just note that there are a lot of white actors I find inexplicably popular.

Can I have a cite on Moors in 12th century England, please? I know people were more mobile in medieval times than we think, but I would have guessed that the political intrigues and concerns of the time would have discouraged the average Moor from considering England as a vacation spot. Political prisoners? Diplomats?

I think one recent instance where this question was obviously taken into consideration is the Hughes Brothers’ From Hell. As a portrait of ghetto ills, it’s very important to their message that there are NO black actors to be seen, anywhere, at any time, although in Victorian England surely there would have been some Africans in positions of servitude. But being black filmmakers, and very carefully showing us a horribly corrupt and crimeridden ghetto made up entirely of white inhabitants, their message is different from the one that would have been conveyed if they’d included any black character.

(Aside: Askia, I must make note of that username: Askia. The posts of any doper who’s unaware of the fact that Don Cheadle is one of the best actors BREATHING, of ANY race, must henceforth be taken with a grain of salt.)

I don’t see your connection. As far as the historical record goes, no “blacks” had anything to do with the ripper murders. So why show any? Was Victorian England segregated at that time? Would they(whites/blacks) be “living” together? The police couldn’t have afforded servants, so the “blacks” wouldn’t in those scenes.

At best you’re talking about a scene or two in the house of the Doctor, in which a “black” person could have worked and once again what’s the point? You would be happy if the Bros, did a quick pan of a street scene of unlookers a black face or two popped up?

Without detail of how they lived, it would be a meaningless throw away scene…and you would be hearing complains of how PC the Hughes Bros. are for “re-writing” history.

I would have been upset if the Hughes bros. DiD just toss a few scenes of “black” people in…if it doesn’t push forward the storyline.

We’re there Asians in England at that time too? One legged people? What do they have anything to do with the ripper murders?


I’m all for historically truth, but From Hell, wasn’t a documentary…sorry I think your rationale of the Bros. reasons for not having “black” people look bad is misguided.

and i agree with you about Don C.

Hmmmm . . . So a one-legged Asian was Jack the Ripper . . . Innnnteresting . . .

Holmes, did you see From Hell? I’d guess not.

It was not a chamber piece: the entire underbelly of London was portrayed on the screen, and there were plenty of opportunities to realistically include black characters.

Actually I did see it, although a while ago and don’t think it to showed " the entire underbelly of London…" let’s pull that blanket down a bit.

It did however give us a glimpse of it… a glimpse can be of course incomplete and doesn’t have to include ** everything** that might or could have occurred, unless, there’s a good reason.

I don’t see, how having a scene or two of blacks, who at least as far as I know, had nothing to do with the events involving the ripper murders, would accomplish anything.

Except put a few black faces on the screen.

My question still stands…why would it be important to show black characters and not equally important to show Asian characters or blind, crippled beggars, midgets or any of the other ‘underbellies’ of London?

Is it merely because the Hughes’ Brothers aren’t white, that their lack of race consciousness is being questioned?

Do you really believe that they’re weren’t any blacks in "From Hell’, is because of some desire to ‘protect’ the image of black people?

I disagree.

Why don’t you provide a cite, and show how many Blacks were living in Whitechapel at the time of the murders. If there was less than 5%, wouldn’t be reasonable that the people directly affected by the ripper, may have never came in contact with any?

Then, too, it’s also worth noting that in Elizabethan parlance “Moor” wasn’t used as specifically as it is now – it could also refer to sub-Saharan Africans as well as Northern Africans, who were indeed more Arabic-looking. Othello has been cast both ways, of course; in the nineteenth century it was standard for productions to interpret the word “Moor” in the literal sense, which isn’t done as frequently today. I do think that apart from that the text indicates that Othello is black rather than Moorish as we’d define the term, and casting in modern productions tends to reflect that – but then, too, Elizabethan racial vocabulary is inspecific, so that “black” does get used to refer to dark-complexioned people not of African descent (cf. especially the sonnets about the dark lady).

In my unscientific opinion, I like seeing different looking faces in movies and television shows. Usually what’ll happen in a movie, I’ll get bored watching the main characters (usually white men and women) talking, and I’ll start paying attention to the character actors in the same scene. I liked seeing Wes Studi as the head of the jewel thieves in Deep Rising, and I liked seeing Daniel Dae Kim as the agent in 24. I guess I’m having my perceptions expanded of more handsome men I can drool over. Now, if only more great looking guys can be persuaded to take parts that require them to strip and occasionally turn around, I’ll be very happy. That doesn’t make me too shallow, does it?

What kind of snarky bullshit is that? Let’s turn down the tone a bit, shall we?

“Entire” as in breadth of scope, not as minutiae of detail.

Those others were shown.

So do I. I imagine they did it to show up the hypocrisy of those who believe that the “ills of the ghetto” are a modern invention, due to racial characteristics of the current ghetto’s inhabitants; that white people in Victorian England lived under much the same conditions.

In either case, it’s an artistic choice. I believe the reason the Brothers made the choice they did was to point out the origins of many “modern” conditions in the capital city of the Great British Empire. Since the Brothers have referred to themselves before as “ghetto filmmakers,” and since they refer to From Hell as a “ghetto film,” I cannot believe that it was other than pointed irony that made them utterly eschew black characters from the ghetto they portrayed in the film.