7.02.2010

So I'm Watching "Merlin", Right....

...and I notice they cast a woman of color to play Guinevere (from the Welsh name "Gwenhwfar" meaning "fair, white, and smooth", mind you), so naturally...I became intrigued.

I looked up actress Angel Coulby to determine her ethnic make-up and by Gawd...just gotta love them comments, y'all.

From the first board:
Commenter #1: I love that NBC made Gwen a black girl. How very new millennium! (Later) BBC, NBC... whatever, I'm applauding diversity here.

Commenter #2: Personally, I'm not too excited about it. I'll take authenticity over diversity any day of the week.

Commenter #3: "Authenticity" of what? This is a fantasy show.

Commenter #4: Oh snap.

Commenter #5: LOL! Did you live during the 6th century? Do you know for sure that a servant could not possibly be anything other than white? There's so many different stories that there hardly is any authenticity about the legends. Besides, they're just legends.

Commenter #6: I actually like it. It's kind of like, arthur will love her so much, that legend will go on and on and instead of being a black servent girl she will be told as the most beautiful women in the land.
And from another board:
Commenter #1: Great historical accuracy by the BBC ;-) How did she manage to get all the way from Polynesia to England in the middle ages!?!?! Another BBC token, shame because she's a good actress.

Commenter #2 (who's also #5 from above): "Historical accuracy?" LOL  The legend of Merlin, Gwen, etc. is not history it's fantasy. I suggest a remedial history course for you.

You were probably willing to gloss over the talking dragon, the Bunsen Burner, the more modern spectacles, and the Alp-like mountains in Britain, but a darker colored Gwen gets you all riled up?

I guess it's called ignorance for a reason.
Now...listen closely, anti-S/U shippers, 'cause this concerns you.  This is what people are talking about when white folks spew bullshit reasons for getting upset with the mere presence of people of color, whether in real life or in media.  This why POC need safe spaces, because we'd like to simply indulge our innate, human right to, you know, exist for a minute or two without having to deal with white folks' showing up and/or throwing a temper tantrum about our simply being somewhere.

Star Trek (2009) viewers saw 6 billion people become extinct and the main concern was Spock kissing Uhura.  Merlin, a show based strictly on legend and fantasy, features magic, a talking dragon, and other such elements, but a Guinevere of color triggers the "authenticity" and "historical accuracy" outcry.

And let's not forget that when, after eight years of Bush, all Obama had to do was simply run for President to turn America in an openly racist circus.  Do you see a pattern yet?  Or are these "isolated events" to you?  Are these simply the "diverse opinions" of a "tiny minority"?

24 comments:

  1. Merlin, a show based strictly on legend and fantasy, features magic, a talking dragon, and other such elements, but a Guinevere of color triggers the "authenticity" and "historical accuracy" outcry.

    Oh good god! Not his again. Can't we have one fandom where black folks aren't treated like interlopers?

    Talking dragons? No problem. Magic? No issues with that. Wizards? Hey, it's just like Harry Potter! A black woman who also happens to be the love interest of the main white hero? Armegeddon.

    I will say that I'm glad that decent people on those boards were calling the racist fools out. Nice to see.

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  2. Not Surprised7/2/10, 2:39 PM

    I honestly believe that they try so hard to down play how they truly feel toward POC's that at any little thing they will snap, when it concerns them. They had Angelina Jolie play a woman of color, where was the talk about authencity and accuracy then? They contradict themselves with most of their actions. Smdh

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  3. They had Angelina Jolie play a woman of color, where was the talk about authencity and accuracy then?

    Lawd...don't even get me started on that.

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  4. I watch the show and adore Angel Coulby as Guinevere. The venom and hate that has been spewed @ her is sickening and not surprising.

    She's a terrifc actress and the show is cracktastic in the best possible way. Can't wait for season 3.

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  5. And now...I have to start paying attention to this show.

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  6. I know nothing about the show, but non-white Guinevere sounds like an interesting idea for so many reasons. First of all- why not? Second of all- there are so many whites playing non-white HISTORICAL (real) characters and nobody sees anything wrong with it, so why wouldn't a WOC play a well-known European character?

    The only reason why I might not like this is if they decided to cast non-white Guinevere just for the sake of PC. I don't know if that happens a lot or not, but I would love to think they had an interesting reading of the character instead of a marketing trick to appeal to the wider audience or something.

    And why do whites hate the idea of WOC Guinevere but accept dragons and what not? Isn't it obvious? They see this myth as part of THEIR culture and it's protagonists as "one of their own". WOC Guinevere hurts them because they are unable to see a non-white woman as one of their own, and they feel the myth is ridiculed and "stolen" from them.

    But then again, they see NOTHING WRONG in doing the exact same thing to other cultures and races, disrespecting them as they see fit.

    PS-I must say I am not one of those people who believe actor's and character's race/ethnicity must match. But the problem is, there are so many white actors and POC actors deserve a fair chance to work, so whites don't.really.have.to.play.every.single.character.- especially if said character doesn't match their phenotype and a POC actor would be perfect for the role. Not the mention the historical context of blackface and the offensive, disrespectful nature of casting whites in the roles of POC.

    I'm writing this because I want to try to understand why I find whites in the last Airbender a bad idea while I find WOC Guinevere interesting. I understand I might sound like a hypocrite. Ok, let me see. I don't believe white actor playing a character of another race is a complete no-no by default, but it must be done in a fair play manner (POC playing whites, for example) in order for it to work and not turn into another white show/fantasy with racist implications (even though filmmakers deny it).

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  7. Question asked, question answered, Mira.

    You're annoyed with Racebender - I mean, Airbender, because once again whites just had to hone in something near and dear to POC and fans of the POC characters AND had to have more white kid heroes in addition to the VERY long list of the ones which already exist. They just couldn't leave it be, and they had to get a House Negro to try to sell that bullshit to the rest of the tribe.

    So no...you're not a hypocrite. Whoever came up with the idea of a Guinevere of color is either issuing some much needed payback, or is settin' her up for some fucked-up shit.

    I hope it's not the latter, because WP need to recognize that they are not so goddamn ubiquitous, perfect, or universally desired. They need to get used to see POC onscreen...it'll be good for them.

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  8. Ankh -

    Check out the site below. Her analysis of Merlin's intersection of race, class & sex are spot on.

    Merlin Analysis 1

    Merlin Analysis 2

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  9. The first analysis was good. The second seemed lacking, but she's not a POC so she lacks a certain insight.

    I really need to keep watching this show.

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  10. Definitely keep watching. I think you'll have plenty to say about it. Wink.

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  11. Oh yes the Merlin rubbish. It's really funny how honkies get so bent out of shape when ::shockhorror: Black women play the heroine that gets it on with the hero. B-b-but accuracy! They cry. smdh

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  12. And yet another thing...

    I AM one of those people who despise anachronism in movies. It's often so distracting and painful to watch. But even if this wasn't fantasy- why would a black woman in the story be less authentic and believable than warrior women doing sword fights? (And everybody seem ok with it).

    Also, I amazes me people complain about actor's race but most of (American) ones don't care if white Americans portray non-American characters.

    I understand this is BBC and not an American production, but we all know it didn't have to be. If there were white American actors, people in England would complain, but nobody would listen.

    If nothing else, the actress Angel Coulby is British, which certainly can't be said of so many actors portraying iconic British characters. They never seem to get a "realistic" Robin Hood, for example(though perhaps you might consider Russell Crowe mixed race and nobody complained about him portraying Robin Hood- but he's seen as 100% white anyway so it's not much of an argument).

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  13. Whoever came up with the idea of a Guinevere of color is either issuing some much needed payback, or is settin' her up for some fucked-up shit.

    So are you saying you suspect they're preparing something horrible for her? Could be, but I am not sure if that was an intention from the start.* I am more interested in the original motives behind casting decision. Like I said, I'd love to believe it was either an interesting reading of the character or just a fair casting choice (Angel Coulby was simply the best at auditions and she got the role). Or that they simply realized black actresses need more roles. However, I worry that they didn't do it for these honest motives but they did it for PC and to be praised for the diversity, which is never a good thing- because it gives them the opportunity to say: ok, POC, you got your black (Guinevere, Uhura.... American president), now can we now have a cookie for being enlightened and anti-racist so we could forget about the whole thing and continue with our normal life (read: continue doing the racist shit but believing we're cool and enlightened).

    * I understand many POC characters start ok, only to be ruined later in the series, when they start to overshadow white characters. So filmmakers quickly ruin them, which is often counter productive for the show because it always turns out audience (both POC and white!) preferred and loved the characters the way they were originally created. Just look at the last Airbender fail. It's not just POC complaining about it. There are many whites- even those who are not particularly concerned about the race and race relations- who say they won't watch the last Airbender because of it. So, by doing this, producers actually work in their own disadvantage, because they actually lose money. I honestly don't get why. If they don't care about POC, why don't they care about the money?

    PS-I know Uhura was black from the start, but I could not think of another black woman as an important character and a love interest in a mainstream movie/show).

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  14. Ankhesen,

    Concerning that woman's analysis: what did you think was lacking?

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  15. I worry that they didn't do it for these honest motives but they did it for PC and to be praised for the diversity, which is never a good thing- because it gives them the opportunity to say: ok, POC, you got your black [character] now can we now have a cookie for being enlightened and anti-racist so we could forget about the whole thing and continue with our normal life (read: continue doing the racist shit but believing we're cool and enlightened).

    Unfortunately, I think it's so. I'm watching more episodes to get a better feel for the show, but so far - and I really hate to say it - they're hittin' the tropes like they're goin' outta style.

    As for the woman's second analysis, it lacked the same passionate and thorough analysis of the first. And I understand it; she's a white woman...she's not going to analyze a character of color with the same gusto and insight as a POC would.

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  16. As for the woman's second analysis, it lacked the same passionate and thorough analysis of the first. And I understand it; she's a white woman...she's not going to analyze a character of color with the same gusto and insight as a POC would.

    True, that analysis was much shorter than Morgana one. She did make a few good points, but it wasn't as deep and thorough.

    But do you think her main points were valid? I am asking because I see nothing wrong with what she said, so I thought you saw something I didn't (some things she got wrong, for example). So I wanted to know what those were.

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  17. @ Mira,

    I think she made excellent points actually. In fact, I wanted her to write more, to keep going, and not be afraid her post was becoming too long.

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  18. Everyone well said...I got so mad when they called her(Angel) ugly. No one cheers for her, she has the lowest character rating and it is all because she is of color. Of course they refuse to acknowledge that but it has to be.

    Attractiveness is subjective but she really isn't "ugly" and she is a great actress. And everything said about wp playing ethnic roles are SO true.

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  19. Everything you people have said here is somewhat correct depending on where you're coming from..me personally am of the opinion that people seem to forget that racism is and will always be. So for the WP trying to object and feel wronged because 'your so called culture'' which is a myth anyways is being mocked, i understand. But what really pisses me off is the how some people have the nerves to call Angel ugly. I mean, what???? are you people serious?? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that's for one and 2, this woman is BEAUTIFUL by far better looking then any of any so called white british female star out there!! I mean how can you call here ugly just because she's ''black'' as y'all claim she is. Alright she's got more pigment then the average caucasian but thats only because the color black is dominant above all. Its clear that she's a mixed or at least a mulato. How else can you explain that beautiful polynesian hair. What im trying to say is even though you racists are out there at least be a bit honest in your racism

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  20. Forgive me Ankhesen and to whom it may concern, I am Chris from Aberdeen UK. ANY RESPONSES TO THE TEXT WRITTEN BY ANONYMOUS PLEASE REFER TO CHRIS OR JUST ANONYMOUS ITS FINE

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  21. ***comment moderation***

    @ Anonymous

    So is that what you haters tell yourselves?

    Black people don't give a fuck about Merlin. Coulby was cast because the white guys running the show wanted her there. Her casting didn't have a damn thing to do with "appeasing" us.

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  22. I get what they are saying, as somone of a presumambly similar background, growing up with the stories; their point being the story is sepcifically about talking dragons and magic and mentions them, but it never mentions black people in England in that time. I get the idea of that, but does it really matter? It's a freakin' story! Who cares if there is a black servant? Why not just concentrate on the narrative rather than bicker about where everyone is from. She's an amazing actress, she portays the character really well. Why does it matter if she's black? I don't care if she's white, black, Spanish, Arabic, Indian or Chinease (like me), she portrays the role well.

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  23. I actually watch Merlin...I am a Black American female BTW...anyway I watch the show and I never really looked at it as a black girl being given a shitty role as being a handmaiden to the white woman...pretty much everyone on the show who is a servant and not royalty is treated like shit...and that includes the title role of Merlin himself..who has to hide his magical powers and is constantly being put down by the young arrogant prince Arthur...But I find it amazing that people want to cry historical accuracy...truth be told Angel Coubly is perfect to play the role..and even in her "lowly" status as a servant girl..completely and naturally outshines all the other women in beauty and grace..which I think is the point...Everyone knows Arthur will take Gwen as his Queen eventually it is a given..but it shows it from a different perspective to show how this young, humble servant girl will rise to become Queen and rule over the Camelot with her handsome Kind Arthur.

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