Former fans have recently been roasting beloved director and fantasy genius, Tim Burton, on Twitter and Facebook for his recent comments regarding his routine lack of diversity in his films. In a recent interview with Bustle, Burton explained why he chose a predominately white cast.
Samuel L. Jackson is the only person of color and portrays the villain in this adaptation of ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’, a popular young adult book about children with special abilities written by author Ransom Riggs
“Nowadays, people are talking about it more,” he says regarding film diversity. But “things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct. Like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black. I used to get more offended by that than just… I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”
Burton’s generic response is very troubling and key to understanding exactly why Hollywood is notoriously behind in writing diverse characters and casting diverse actors in film. Look, no one is demanding that Burton includes people of color in his films, no one wants to be cast as the “token” Black, Asian or Hispanic character either. We just want Burton to realize what he seemed to misunderstand during his entire directing career. People of color just want to be portrayed as people. His terrible examples of The Brady Bunch casting and ‘blaxploitation’ (stereotyped black characters and films) of the 60’s and 70’s are frowned upon and the reason why we’re striving for non-stereotypical roles for people of color.
Burton believes, “things either call for things, or they don’t.” and his comment proves that Hollywood can do more to be more inclusive and put and end to racial bias and stereotypical minority characters in film. To think that none of Burton’s many popular fantasy films call for diverse characters is nonsense. People of color can be portrayed as unique, odd and whimsical characters without bringing too much attention to their race just like white actors. He doesn’t have to explain why a person of color is in a certain place or time or looks a certain way, they just are!
What’s even more peculiar is the fact that Burton is barely diverse in his casting of white actors, he’s used the same leading actors in the majority of his films over the past 30 years (ahem, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter).
If Burton has taught us anything about fantasy films it’s this, LITERALLY anything could happen, there aren’t any rules, and we’re only limited by our own imagination. Let’s hope that Burton and other directors embrace diversity a bit more in the near future and see the value of representation and inclusion.