First off with all due respect this is not so much a bash piece of Chadwick Boseman as it is a sweeping indictment of Hollywood and its peculiar practices. Now that the obligatory disclaimer is out the way, let’s get it! When we think about some of the biopics that have come out in recent years a few popular movies come to mind: Straight Outta Compton and All Eyez On Me. Both of the aforementioned movies were heralded or ridiculed for how closely the actors in these films’ likeness resembled the real-life characters they portrayed on film. A large part of the success of these films is in the fact that the actors chosen actually looked like the people they were portraying.
Imagine if you will the outrage that would ensue if in the All Eyez On Me film Damon Wayans played Tupac. This sounds ridiculous, right? In a biopic, filmgoers want to be fully immersed in the story and don’t want to grapple with the fact that the actors on screen look nothing like the people they are playing. This leads me to Mr. Chadwick Boseman. I am super proud that yet again there is another successful Black man in the world pursuing his dreams and earning a living in the process. However, Chadwick knows damn well that he looks nothing like a majority of the major Black figures in history that he portrays on film.
If Boesman’s portrayal of James Brown in Get On Up wasn’t egregious enough, he is now the lead in Marshall where Boseman plays the late Civil Rights hero Thurgood Marshall. Now if we do a quick Google search of what Thurgood Marshall actually looked like it would be quite evident that Boseman looks NOTHING LIKE HIM!!! I am not mad at Boseman, by all means, get your paper, but what I am mad at is Hollywood’s blatant disregard for blending historical accuracy with profitability when it comes to Black films.
There is hardly enough outlets for Black folks to tell their stories in Hollywood and we don’t need slapped together films where historical accuracy is foregone in favor of the almighty dollar! While I am well aware of the fact that it’s not solely about how closely an actor resembles a historical figure they are portraying, but the acting has to be on par as well, I get it! I believe there’s something to be said about representation because millions (probably not as exaggerated a figure as it appears) of white folks or white identifying folks complained about the new Spider-Man being a person of color. Its fucking Spider-Man a fictitious character, but he’s historically been white so if Marvel fans can complain about a made up character and their phenotypical features, why then should Black folks not feel slighted when it comes to the way we are depicted on film?
Hollywood and the Chinese community would never allow a biopic to be made about Jackie Chan starring Yao Ming no matter how great of an actor he was. The Latinx community would never allow the casting of George Lopez as Mark Anthony in a biopic of the singer, it simply wouldn’t happen! As people of Color, Black folks, in particular, we shouldn’t fall for Hollywood’s logic of “all you niggers look alike” when it comes to casting decisions and offering certain thespians certain parts! Much love and blessings to Chadwick Boseman and the numerous other “Chadwick Boesman’s” who continue to push forward in a deeply prejudicial and racist industry and manage to do so against unimaginable pressure and seemingly insurmountable odds. We should all be alarmed because the way this political climate is set up if we don’t start showing more concern for detail when it comes to stories from particular communities, the Black community more specifically, if we don’t millennia’s will have to explain to their confused children why Miley Cyrus is playing Michelle Obama and hopefully we’ll have a better answer other than “it doesn’t matter, its just acting.”