“Spider-Man Is the New Black: What Good Is Diverse Casting Without Diverse Creators?”

“The third (well, 6th) Spider-Man film franchise hits theaters in 2017 and is finally casting New York as it really looks. In addition to the cast we’ve already met inCaptain America: Civil War (Tom Holland as Spidey, Marisa Tomei as Aunt May, and RDJ as Tony Stark), the film has been catching the eye of a lot of PoC nerds, blerds, and assorted geeks given the diversity of its cast. Actors like Donald Glover, Zendaya, Selenis Leyva (Orange Is the New Black), Hannibal Buress, Bokeem Woodbine (Jason’s Lyric, Fargo), Kenneth Choi, Abraham Attah, Tiffany Espensen, Tony Revolori, and Garcelle Beauvais (The Jamie Foxx Show, NYPD Blue) are names that PoC viewers especially recognize.

This is fantastic. Many movies set in New York have a Friends feel to them—two Black, guest-starring characters over the course of 10 years—and that definitely includes the MCU. So it’s refreshing to see that so many people of color have been cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

However, that doesn’t mean I’m not nervous. Just because people of color are cast in something doesn’t mean it’s going to be an accurate or inclusive representation of who they are. Let’s look at Orange Is the New Black. Without giving away too many spoilers, the ending of season 4 had many Black people giving the show a second look. A show that has been lauded for its portrayal of Blacks and Latinx suddenly made those audiences uncomfortable with the way they handled a storyline pertaining to #BlackLivesMatter (see pieces here, here,here, and here for more—spoilers if you click). Many critics said the story lacked the nuance that a Black writer could (and should) have brought to the topic.

And when OITNB posted a picture of their writing staff recently, it turned out that they don’t have any Black or Latinx writers…”



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