I think it goes without saying that actor Michael B. Jordan is kind of a big deal. He’s been around for a pretty long time on TV shows like The Wire and Friday Night Lights, but he was first noticed by many fans with the sci-fi found footage film Chronicle before going on to make a splash in the Ryan Coogler-directed Fruitvale Station.
Now, Jordan has starred in two big franchises with Creed and the recently-released Black Panther, where he portrayed a character who is arguably Marvel’s strongest villain to date. Perhaps notably, not all of roles were written with a black actor in mind. Speaking with IndieWire, the actor confessed that he actually actively pursued roles written for white actors.
“Right around the time Fruitvale Station went down, I told my agents I didn’t want to go out for any roles written for African Americans. I didn’t want it. I wanted only white men. That’s it. That’s all I want to do. Me playing that role is going to make it what it is. I don’t want any pre-bias on the character…Writers write what they know, what they think encounters with us would be, and that’s slight bias.”
This is likely a comment that could stir up some debate. If we’re not okay with race-swapping out black characters for white characters, then why is it the okay with the reverse? In regards to that question, I think it’s worth noting that there is an inherent bias in the business to default all characters to white unless there is some reason for them to be otherwise.
As a result, what Jordan says is right. There is often an inherent bias, and it could involve a writer writing a character a certain way just because that’s how he or she perceives a certain race to act. It’s probably better to go for the white roles, where the “neutral” aspect allows writers to often give these characters more nuance and emotional depth outside of race.
But what are your thoughts on Jordan’s comments? Is this okay or simply another example of a double standard? Sound off down below!
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