Given the current fanfare from fans both black and white for Elba being cast as the next actor to take on the role of 007, there’s chatter that seems to pop up that Elba wouldn’t be the right fit for Bond surface from time to time. Horowitz’s comment to the Daily Mail that Elba is “probably a bit too ‘street'” to play Bond is a prime example of the coded racism that plagues every person of color in employment and daily life. It’s beyond hurtful; it’s insulting.
Elba is a charming, well-received and respected actor among his peers, but Horowitz’s comment goes beyond just assessing these qualities when determining whether Elba would be appropriate to play Bond. Horowitz’ assertion that Elba is “too street” is a micro-aggression; it’s a comment rife with racist subtext. It’s also inaccurate — Elba starred in an off-Broadway production of Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida.
At a time when racial injustice is a crucial part of our of cultural discourse — #BlackLivesMatter actions, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Serena Williams, Nicki Minaj and President Barack Obama — Horowitz’s comment presents a hyper-limited view that impedes societal progress.
“Too street” implies “too black.” When Horowitz says Elba’s “too street,” he’s really saying, “He’s black. James Bond shouldn’t be black.” Any way you slice it, this is an extremely silly thing to say. Instead of looking like a person who’s fully aware of his words, Horowitz comes off as a purist. Freaking out over a black James Bond — never mind a black Spider-Man or black Catwoman — is simply disheartening and ridiculous. Race should not exclude any actor — or any person — from doing a job.
Things like this really need to stop with us — and hopefully, Hollywood will, in turn, follow suit.