Monday, November 16, 2009

From the back of the bus, to kicked off the bus



Universal's UK 'Couples Retreat' Poster Brings Cries of Racism by Removing Black Actors, by Matt Ufford, Yahoo! Movies.

A racially-tinged advertising decision has gone awry for the movie "Couples Retreat."

Marketers of the Vince Vaughn comedy, which stars four couples in a tropical paradise, removed black actors Faizon Love and Kali Hawk from the promotional poster used in the United Kingdom after the U.S. version used all four couples. In response to outrage over the move, a Universal spokesman said the altered poster aimed "to simplify the poster to actors who are most [recognizable] in international markets."

While Love and Hawk aren't generally as well known as the film's other six stars, it's still a questionable motive. As noted in a 2007 New York Times article, American films with black stars typically struggle in the overseas market. According to the article, Will Smith, the undisputed king of the American box office, ranks no better than twelfth when it comes to ticket sales internationally. Simply put, said industry watcher James Ulmer, "The international marketplace is still fairly racist."

However, there's good news for those who believe the removal of Love and Hawk from the UK poster was racist: Universal issued a statement regretting any offense it caused, and the studio has scrapped all plans to use the modified poster in other overseas markets.


The irony of this story is that "the international marketplace is still fairly racist" because of the movies and television show exported from the United States to other countries. Racism is not someone babies are born with. It is hard to explain racism towards black people, but reverence for white people, in countries where there are few to no black people or white people, without looking at the media that is exported to those countries.

I also don't know how one could explain the exclusion of the one black couple in the movie from almost all of the television commercials inside the United States, where millions of black people live.

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1 comment:

Asian Americanist said...

"The irony of this story is that "the international marketplace is still fairly racist" because of the movies and television show exported from the United States to other countries."

That's not what the article said. There's nothing that says that the racism happening is because of the entertainment exported. There's actually a lot of racism in the UK, and I highly doubt that it's because of the movies that get exported.

And at this point, I would think that if you're learning about black people from movies, you're going to think that they're either really funny, or are cooler and more "with it" than white people.