When you don’t have racism in your heart, when it never occurs to you to have an opinion about the casting of the beloved classic movie, Annie, because the lead is black, you can’t help but be shocked when there most certainly is an opinion on that, and it’s a profoundly negative one.
As American pop culture junkies, we’ve been down this road before. When the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman was announced on Twitter, Facebook and blogs went crazy with criticism. Jokes ranged from calling Affleck a terrible actor who will ruin the iconic role with his terrible Boston accent, to asking if JLo would be cast as commissioner Gordon.
All of this seems rather innocuous and quite fair. Affleck is white, rich, privileged and therefore should be Teflon to such criticism. But to go after a child for being cast as Annie is a level of racism that I could never have imagined, but then again, I’m white. How would I know?
The backlash went like this:
Sony announces that Jay Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith will be producing an Annie “re-boot” starring Oscar winner Jamie Foxx in the Daddy Warbucks role (renamed) and Oscar Winner Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role. The majority of us thought, “Wow, Jamie Foxx is an amazing singer, he’s gonna be great in another musical,” but a small faction of the internet let poor Quvenzhané have it.
I don’t like this remake of Annie. Annie is a classic and Annie is white with red curly hair. Nothing wrong with dark skinned people, it’s just not Annie. — Taylor Hartwell (@tayylorhartwell) March 6, 2014
Just seen new Annie trailer. Don’t mean to sound racist as it does look amazing. But WHY THE F*** IS ANNIE BLACK?! Should be ginger & white — Evie @eveyyy3
I’m not racist but ANNIE IS NOT BLACK. She is a cute little white girl with red curly hair, she does not have an Afro — Megan Stone (stonemegan14)
As a psychologist I can tell you about racial identity and that part of the white identity model is coming to grips with your own white privilege, your own racism and making yourself aware that you may harbor these thoughts but that every day you need to make efforts to change them. I could tell you to recognize that your while privilege has given you unfair advantages. Your race is over-represented in this society’s elite (Politicians, actors, decision makers, etc.) and that has an impact too.
But I think — in this case — I’m best off letting Oscar winner and five-time Grammy nominee Jamie Foxx tell you:
“I don’t listen to anybody on the internet because they hate everything… A kid growing up today, he sees President Obama, he doesn’t know there was controversy… ”