The Benign Racism Of Good People

There are more black British actors in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your Idris Elba tweets.

Here are some things you may rely on: 1. The sun’ll come out tomorrow (go right ahead and bet your bottom dollar). 2. Someone, somewhere will helpfully assert that Islam is not a race, hence Islamophobia is “not real”. And 3. At least 76 good-hearted people will – independent of one another – nominate Idris Elba for some movie or TV role.

Luke Macgregor / Reuters

Over the last 15 years, there has been a marked surge in performative fandom. What used to be niche or “special interest” (read: known to a vast underground but pointedly unexplored by mainstream outlets) has slipped into the spaces it once never hoped to enter. People now talk about cosplaying and fan fiction – among other things – with an ease that brooks no argument and expects no query of legitimacy. Blame or praise the internet: Information is disseminated within seconds, and fandoms can organise like never before. The results are exciting, sometimes resulting in mass fan actions such as “save our show” campaigns, in which fans bombard studios with specific items from dead or dying projects (see Chuck and Jericho for a masterclass of the method) until their demands are met.

But the bedrock of fandom’s core interest is much more quiet and insular. Fans are enjoyers first and foremost, so a lot of fandom is preoccupied with discussing the object of obsession/interest. Forums, comment sections, and hashtags all have their parts to play in this regard — and fans do what fans have always done, i.e. they fancast their favourite movies and television shows long before, and long after, the studios do. It may be beyond our control that Tobey Maguire has been cast as Spider-Man, but who’s to stop us from imagining a world in which Peter Parker might be somebody entirely different?

The “somebody entirely different” option is one that fans really love. The earliest fancasting I ever engaged in was almost always like-for-like. So: What if Darkwing Duck were to be replaced by Donald Duck? Or what if Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle on Saved By The Bell) was also cast as Angela Moore on Boy Meets World? Inevitably, this simple exchange matured into something even wider – why not go the whole hog and race and genderbend TV and movies as well?


Miles Morales: a half-black, half-Puerto Rican Spider-Man, introduced in 2011.

In his essay about the recent centenary of the feature film and our reluctance to celebrate the anniversary, Godfrey Cheshire makes a salient point about race and cinema. “While it surely helped launch the American feature film industry,” Cheshire writes, “…the controversy and polemical fire generated by Birth Of A Nation proved a negative incentive for Hollywood producers, who in later decades scrupulously avoided racial themes and relegated African-American characters to background roles as mammies, butlers, and entertainers.” The bias against nonwhite performers and behind-the-scenes personnel has been present in cinema since the very beginning, baked into the industry’s very foundation. The repercussions are still being felt today. Fancasting that crosses race and gender lines opens up new possibilities for fans, and for the stories being told.

How thrilling it is then, to reimagine an infinite number of movies and TV shows in which so many talented (and often overlooked) actors of colour find themselves with roles previously reserved for only white actors. Imagine, as the Tumblr fan cast below does, a world in which our beloved Friends were black and Asian, rather than monochrome white. Or an alternate reality in which Fringe‘s Walter and Peter Bishop were Pakistani-American? Does it necessarily change the content of the final product? If yes, why? If no, then why not?

6. Which brings us to the issue of Idris Elba.

Suzanne Plunkett / Reuters

7. Specifically: Naming Idris Elba for every damn role in Western television and cinema.

The new James Bond? Have you considered Idris Elba? The next Doctor? I dunno, but I reckon it should be Idris Elba. A King Arthur film? Hey, what about casting Idris Elba? A Mary Seacole biopic? Guys, I know it’s left field, but have we thought about Idris Elba for the lead role?

I was reminded of this fancasting tic in the wake of Jon Stewart’s announcement that he was quitting The Daily Show after almost two decades. The nominations for his replacement came thick and fast, and alongside the usual suspects came the name of Jessica Williams, already a correspondent on the show, and a fan favourite.

9. Full disclosure: I joined in, as any good fan does.

If Jessica Williams wants it, I hope she gets the Daily Show presenting gig. She’s the best.

— bimadew (@Bim Adewunmi)

Turns out Jessica Williams didn’t want the job, flattering though she found the vote of confidence from fans. She tweeted as much.

But that didn’t stop one writer (who has since apologised) from diagnosing Williams with a case of Impostor Syndrome, the cure for which would likely come wrapped in a pep talk from the likes of Luvvie Ajayi and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others. William – and others – did not appreciate it. And I get it.

Rob Latour / REX USA

What was a well-meant “I choose you, member of a historically overlooked and discriminated against group, to be a figurehead of change” became something a little less sweet-tasting. It happened with Issa Rae when the clamour about SNL’s black woman black hole became an issue a couple years back. It happened with #Donald4Spiderman. It’s happened with pre- and post-Oscar Lupita Nyong’o. It’s been happening with Idris Elba for years, even when he has articulated how “black James Bond” is really not up his street.

What is betrayed in these types of fancasting is a lack of imagination. An ignorance of anyone but whoever happens to be “so hot right now”. It’s understandable: We are wired to think of the highest profile; the person who features in the “Previously, on The X Show” reel at the front of our minds. And these are not necessarily bad things: It shows you’re maybe thinking about the underrepresentation of people of colour in the culture, and recognise that it needs to be addressed. And these actors are talented, charming, and capable performers. But it also suggests a shallowness of knowledge – the same actor(s), suggested for every role(s), over and over, regardless of suitability (on the grounds of age/physical appearance/comedy or drama chops/whatever, ad nauseam. It gets to be irritating.

It might not be the type of racism that kills, or shouts abuse in the streets, or discriminates against your name at the top of a CV or a rental application, but it shares the same seed. This is a more benign strain of the disease, relegated to a lower status because it involves pop culture, and its intentions are so fine. It’s subtle, but it’s subtly damaging. It’s also really goddamn lazy.

13. There are more black male actors than Idris Elba in this country; some younger, some older, some just as good, some better. They are worth considering for the real roles, as well as in fancasting exercises.

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Britney Spears close to landing new job!/MeenGreene/status/190081992421949440

Poor Britney Spears has been unemployed for so long, it’s about time she gets some good news! It looks like she’ll be named as a new judge on “X Factor” any day now.

Sources confirm the singer is in final-stage negotiations with Fox and X Factor producers to join the series this fall. Spears has reportedly haggled a $15 million payout for the gig (slightly more than Jennifer Lopez snagged for American Idol).

If the deal closes, Spears could be an ideal choice to boost music competition’s ratings: She has both credible music industry experience and a chaotic personality that’s lent itself to fun headlines over the years. That’s the type of celebrity mixture that Factor chief Simon Cowell can work with.

Britney Spears has been offered $15 million to be an X-Factor judge. The courts/conservatorship must agree

— Sir Reese Of ATL (@ReeseATL) April 11, 2012

Word is, Britney Spears is thisclose to joining #TheXFactor as a judge. The show still needs another judge… Mariah or Pink would be great!

— Pina (@Miss_Pina) April 11, 2012

i still dont know how i feel about Britney Spears being a judge on X-Factor

— Jon Rudely (@PoLiGhTlyYrUdE) April 11, 2012

This will be an amazing train wreck: “@EW: Britney Spears near deal to judge 'X Factor'

— Peter Dziedzic (@ptd3001) April 11, 2012

Whaaatttt?! I might just have to tune-in. RT @EW: Britney Spears near deal to judge 'X Factor'

— Anne Pomeroy (@PomsieATP) April 11, 2012

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His Show Usually Makes Us Laugh, But This Tearful Plea Will Break Your Heart

Jimmy Kimmel is one of our favorite late-night comedians.

He’s always upbeat and hilarious, whether he’s playing pranks on kids or showing us celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves. On Monday’s show, however, “Jimmy Kimmel Live” took a turn for the serious when Jimmy returned from a week-long hiatus after the birth of his baby. He revealed that his son, Billy, was born with congenital heart disease and that one of the holes in Billy’s heart had to be fixed immediately with major surgery.

Jimmy’s story is full of both laughter and tears, and he thanks every single person who helped his son. He’s so grateful.

Youtube / Jimmy Kimmel Live

Jimmy also took the opportunity to talk about how this experience affects everyone by revealing that congenital heart disease is classified as a preexisting condition by insurance companies.

At the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, he said he saw many struggling families and urged his viewers to donate to the hospital so they can continue to receive care. He also pleaded with the audience to call their Congresspeople to keep protections in place for preexisting conditions. Like he said, no matter what political party you’re part of, we can all agree that parents shouldn’t have to struggle to save their kids’ lives.

Jimmy Kimmel used his platform to not only share his story but to try to help others. If you’d like to donate and help kids in need, check out your local Children’s Hospital or donate to CHLA. Be sure to share this story with all the parents in your life and squeeze your kiddos tight!

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This Is The Truly Nasty Thing That Can Happen If You Get This Piercing

It’s hard to believe that just a few decades ago, something as simple as piercing your ears was largely frowned upon.

Today it seems like there’s a piercing for just about every part of your body. With so many options, long gone are the days of the traditional single ear piercing. And naturally, one atypical kind of piercing is taking the world by storm. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Scarlet Johansson are getting their helixes pierced.

But what exactly is a helix piercing? Well you’re about to find out.

A helix piercing is defined as any piercing made to the upper ear cartilage.

While most people opt into getting a single piercing along the outer upper cartilage, a brave few are getting multiple piercings in the same area.

These piercings are known as a double or triple helix.

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