That racism is thriving in America is no surprise. (Please direct your television to any and all election coverage.) It’s as sadly ingrained in our national consciousness as baseball and mom’s good old apple pie. Which is why there shouldn’t be anything shocking to me about the racist reactions to the casting of black actors in the Hunger Games. But for some reason it did surprise me, and I can’t think of a pop culture related story that’s made me angrier or more disheartened in recent times.
Idiots took to twitter after the movie to say that they thought that casting black actors for the “good characters” ruined the movie. Or that they were fooled into feeling sympathy for a young female character who got brutally stabbed and killed, only to realize when they saw that movie that she was BLACK. Some claimed to feel less sad because of her race but apologized if you thought this made them seem a little racist. These people were able to fall in love with and mourn the image of the character they created in their minds, but could no longer do that with the visual representation of a different race.
It’s awful knowing that these people exist, and it smarts to know that a lot of good people have to deal with the consequences of their racist bullshit. Beyond the blatant racism, which if I try really hard to suspend reality, I can usually just write off as stupidity and move on knowing that I choose to not surround myself with that ilk, there were a couple other things about this that exacerbated the degree of awfulness in their messages for me.
Yes, it boggles the mind that people would actually feel betrayed by a surprise revelation that these characters were black. But the fact is that along with missing a soul, those who complained about the blackness of the characters are also without a basic grasp on reading comprehension. Listen, I don’t know the correlative stats on reading ability and racist dumbfuckery, and I am sure there’s a study somewhere to prove this, but this particular sample group exhibits that racists may not really understand what they’re reading.
The author herself wrote that 2 of the characters in question were dark skinned, and she’s given interviews confirming that indeed they were meant to be African American. Lenny Kravitz’s character was not given any racial indicators in the novel, and a casting director is in no way to employ default-whitewashing regardless of the preference of the vocal, racist moviegoer. This wasn’t a situation like in the Harry Potter series when the author outed a certain character as gay after the fact without explicitly stating it in the novel.
This is to say nothing of the spelling or grammar of these particular racists, which is probably the least of their worries.
Also alarming is the complete confidence that these people have in their racism, the utter lack of embarrassment in posting an opinion that should make them cringe. I understand that people gain false confidence and sometimes lose their minds when their toes dangle over the edge of a social media platform. I’ve posted things on twitter that I would come to regret down the road. But what does it say when people demonstrate no shame in flouting backwards thinking? Where are they learning that this is ok? When did it become a point of pride to show that there are limits to compassion and sympathy that can be drawn as easily as color lines? These people either didn’t know that they were being racist, or they didn’t know that racism was wrong. Either way, that’s disturbing.
I guess what bothers me most is that these stories actually took me by surprise. I never gave much thought to the idea that the comingling of races on screen or the casting of non-whites would be a flash point of controversy. Of course, I realized that racists exist in the world, and as a white male, I don’t bear the any of brunt of having to deal with their actions. But these idiots really caught off guard and made me feel naïve and sad. And twitter should make you feel many things: dumber, lazier, smugger, but never sad.
These people reminded me that we always must be vigilant on the lookout for complete fucking idiots. And for that I owe them.
So, to help these people facilitate their narrow-mindedness in the future, I’ve come up with some suggestions for them the next time they take to twitter:
- Start an inquiry into why the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race is black? Couldn’t they have found a nice white lady?
-Write angry letters about why there are so many white people that have to do their own cooking on the Food Network.
- Demand an explanation into how those two nice men on Modern Family made a baby together. Be sure to include the phrase “Adam and Steve.”
-Continue your twentieth straight year of outrage that the Simpsons were drawn yellow when they were clearly written white.
- Blame a young black child’s death on the fact that he wore a hooded sweatshirt, the uniform of a “gangsta wannabe”. Oh wait.