Mr. Wright, I Presume?
Yesterday, we finally got our Beetee, and within seconds of seeing his name up on Lionsgatepublicity.com, which by the way does not have handy-dandy pictures as visual aids– I went from thinking, “I know that name, why do I know that name?!” To a mad scrambling IMDb-search, and then a mental exclamation of, “I totally know him! Oh, thank god!” And, then the dread set in almost immediately, because yep– Mr. Wright, if you haven’t noticed, which I actually didn’t notice until after I thought, “great character actor, been around a long time… loved him in Source Code, and Casino Royale. I like him”, Mr. Wright is black. Yep, dread I said before, but why? Because, unfortunately this world has a large population of people who are A. hypocrites. B. hypocrites who are also racists. C. hypocrites who have no idea that they’re racist, but they are. And D. All of the above, and they have Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, and Tumblrs. And, then the world wept, and shook with the emotion pouring out of its ravaged soul.
This would be the third time I’ve had to address this issue of all out, disgusting, and completely displaced prejudice where it comes to casting decisions for this franchise. I don’t like talking about this issue, mostly because, well– it’s, 2012! But, I’m not naive, far from it– I know there’s an exorbitant amount of ignorance, prejudice, stereotyping, generalizing, and bigotry flooding this fair planet we all call home, but sometimes– just sometimes I wish it would leave this little franchise alone, so it could just be what it is– which is awesome. Look, I’ve seen the tweets, the Facebook comments, and the Tumblr gaffs that say off the cuff, and frankly idiotic things like, “not to be racist but why did they cast a black man as Beetee… he’s definitely supposed to be white.” Or, another one of my favorites, “I don’t intend on this sounding racist but I can’t believe they cast Beetee as a black guy? I imagined him old and fragile.” All righty, from here on out anyone who starts a statement with “not to be racist…”, or some other statement of a similar wording, just cough up the rock, ’cause the statement you just made is inherently racist, and you simply need to come to terms with that, and then do your utmost to change the way you look at the world, ’cause it’s sad, and it’s shallow, and it’s likely greatly hindering, and stifling your experience as a human being.
Take off the Ignorance Glasses, and look at the damn description Miss. Suzanne Collins gave us of our dear Beetee, “both are small in stature with ashen skin and black hair… Beetee, the man, is older and somewhat fidgety. He wears glasses but spends a lot of time looking under them.” (P. 226 American Hardcover Edition of Catching Fire) If you just read the same words I did, you didn’t see any adjectives there like, “white”, “lily white”, “skinny”, “older than dirt”, “ancient”, “fragile”, “pink”, “pale” or, hrm– “Caucasian”. The descriptive words are, “small”, “ashen skin”, “black hair”, “older”, however older in comparison to Wiress whom Katniss describes as, “probably around my mother’s age…” Oh, and Beetee wears glasses. So, Nothing in that description, whom many have described as an ambiguous description, does Miss Collins state that Beetee is black, white, Asian, Native American, or a unicorn. Why? Because, if you didn’t notice Katniss doesn’t categorize people into familiar racial groups, her racial groups, which are actually ethnic and/or socio-economic groups, are Seam and Merchant, so anyone outside of that she takes in their appearance and doesn’t judge them according to social constructs that our society dictates. Katniss, she sees small, she sees ashen skin, which to the eyes of a girl who grew up around a healer, means she’s taking in that those two people are sickly– not white, but sickly. Race doesn’t mean much to her, true she took in that Thresh and Rue had dark skin, but she also took in that Rue was the same age as her sister, and had a similar personality, she doesn’t put up a jarring description of BLACK, she saw, innocent child. Sadly, in most societies now a-days, because the character Beetee is characterized as a technological genius, we’re socially constructed to put him into one of two racial categories, white, and Asian, because we really like our stereotypes– a lot.
So, what have we learned? Not much probably, but at least we got our Beetee finally, and he’s a good actor, whom also just happens to be able to tick off black when he fills out a census form.
Them There Eyes