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All about Idris - The Ex-Communicator

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April 28th, 2010

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07:11 am - All about Idris
Idris Elba - Stringer Bell from The Wire (see icon) - is in the news a lot at the moment. It's about time he got the recognition he deserved, having played arguably The Best character in The Best TV show ever made, you would think that was a bit of a boost to the old CV.

So he now has his own British TV show Luther, playing a genius detective. This is the lead role on Prime Time BBC1, which is literally the best TV slot an actor can get in British television. This is a link to a Youtube clip of Idris discussing the role. (Personally I worry that the BBC are over-cautious about plot and vision in their headline shows, but I hope it is as good as it might be).

And Kenneth Branagh - always a good eye - is casting him as the Norse god Heimdall in his interpretation of the comic book Thor.

Comic fans (no, this is wrong, just a few fans) have reacted stupidly:
"This PC crap has gone too far! Norse deities are not of an African ethnicity! … It's the principle of the matter. It's about respecting the integrity of the source material, both comics and Norse mythologies."

"At the risk of sounding like a bigot, I think this is nuts! Asgard is home to the Norse Gods!!! Not too many un-fair complexion types roaming the frigid waste lands up there.

I will not point out the flaws in this argument, as I am sure they are apparent to all. Get a bleedin' grip guys. You should be on your knees thanking the gods you've got a man of this stature involved in your pet project.

(27 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:April 28th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
No, I should respond fairly to your fair question. The relationship between European and African is not a purely symmetrical one. For most of the history of European drama white people colonised the stage, like they colonised other parts of the world. Othello, in particular, was routinely played by white men up until a few years ago. Black minstrels were played by white singers in insulting face paint, on prime time British TV, when I was a teenager. This means the casting of white poeple to play black roles has a long and unpleasant history.

Secondly, Heimdall is not a European character, he is a god.
Date:April 28th, 2010 07:09 am (UTC)
A white actor cast as an Asian god, then?
[User Picture]
Date:April 28th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC)
Certainly the relationship between colonised and colonial applies to Asia as much as to Africa, although obviously the relationship is differently nuanced in different circumstances. And the casting of white actors as Asian gods is routine - for example Charlton Heston as Yahweh.
Date:April 28th, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
Ah, the Charlton Heston _10 Commandments_ as a model of Political Correctness to be followed in 2010.
[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2010 09:18 am (UTC)
Yes. And there are all the issues of the whitewashing of history that khalinche alludes to below (IN THE PAST EVERYONE IN EUROPE WAS WHITE MMMKAY), plus, as you say, dude's a god, so we don't actually need to decide that Idris Elba's skin colour signifies 'African origin' in the character. (I mean, we don't even have to do this with colourblind casting in human characters.)

But also this isn't just a historical issue: there's an active set of debates among present-day worshippers of the Norse gods, some of whom are awesome (may I introduce burningblood, and some of whom are raging Fascists. I'd see this piece of casting as an excellent and timely intervention into the attempt by white-supremacists to APPROPRIATE* the Norse gods for their nefarious purposes. (Here's a post by burningblood with links to some essays on the race debate in Folkish and Asatru religion/practice).

*because the Norse gods DO NOT BELONG TO WHITE PEOPLE.
[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)
I think racism is an issue that paganism needs to confront, and it looks like it is being confronted. Can only strengthen paganism.
[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2010 11:30 am (UTC)
Also an issue in the folk scene right now.

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