By Deputy Editor Thea Lim
Reader Carleandria sent us this link to an article from the Times Online, discussing a controversy that is gaining ground in France after the release of a biopic on French writer Alexandre “The Three Musketeers” Dumas starring Gérard Depardieu:
A fuss over race has soured the release of the latest film in which Gérard Depardieu takes on one of the giants of French history. Black actors and anti-racism campaigners are upset that the white star is cast as Alexandre Dumas, the country’s biggest national hero with mixed blood.
The blonde, blue-eyed Depardieu sports curly hair and darker skin in L’Autre Dumas [trailer here], directed by Safy Nebbou. Dumas, who is still probably the world’s best-loved French author, was an exuberant, high-living celebrity — like Depardieu. His paternal grandmother was a former Haitian slave. His father, a Napoleonic-era general, was deemed to be a Caribbean “negro”. In his lifetime, the novelist was mocked for his African features and he called himself ”un nègre”.
…Non-white celebrities, some Dumas experts and black organisations are angry because they say that the producers missed a chance to celebrate France’s ethnic diversity and remind the world of the writer’s part black origins.
“There is a mechanism of permanent discrimination by silence,” said Jacques Martial, a black actor who made his name playing a television police detective. Patrick Lozès, President of the Council of Black Associations (CRAN) wondered: “In 150 years time, could the role of Barack Obama be played in a film by a white actor with a fuzzy wig? Can Martin Luther King be played by a white?”
…In a protest on the internet, the CRAN said that the casting of Depardieu was fresh evidence of France’s failure to promote non-white stars in its cinema and media. “Very few of our compatriots know that Alexandre Dumas was mixed race and considered to be a black in his lifetime,” it said.
The film commits a double sin in the CRAN’s eyes because its plot, adapted from a successful play, discredits Dumas’ genius by depicting his white assistant as the true creator of his works. “Possibly for commercial reasons, they are white-washing Dumas in order to blacken him further,” it said.
…Dumas’ Wikipedia entry (yes, sorry) contains a quote in which Dumas replied to a taunt about being black. “My father was a mulatto, my grandfather was a Negro, and my great-grandfather a monkey. You see, Sir, my family starts where yours ends.”
Personally I had no idea that Dumas was black. This makes me wonder how many famous people of colour – especially those of mixed heritage – are white-washed by history. I also recently learned (through another reader tip!) that the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was black too.
POC reclamation project, anyone?
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at email@example.com.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- Friday Foolishness: Selena Gomez Is Wearing A Bindi?
- The Rise Of Beyoncé, The Fall Of Lauryn Hill: A Tale Of Two Icons
- Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.7: “Man With A Plan”
- Open Thread: The Great Gatsby
- Scandal Recap 2.22: “White Hats Back On”
- Quoted: Lucy Liu On Racial Image And Romantic Comedies
- The Perennial Plate Visits India And Sri Lanka On Its World Tour
- The Racialicious Links Roundup 5.16.13
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black blackface celebrities comedy culture diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity international interracial relationships latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes tv Uncategorized white youtube