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For some, a movie can never be “diverse” enough

(Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

The perceived lack of diversity in Hollywood continues to be a talking point for liberal pundits and actors. It was also the impetus for casting several minority actors in the new film, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures cast a number of actors with diverse racial backgrounds — including Hispanic, Filipino, and African-Americans — in several leading and supporting roles.

But according to the diversity police, Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios didn’t go far enough.

The Root politics editor, Jason Johnson, said in an op-ed last week that “it’s nice that Spider-Man comes home to a non-gentrified neighborhood, but the movie goes out of its way to let you know that white guys are still running things.”

Johnson seemed to make the argument that some of the diverse cast members are simply filling racial stereotypes, but that’s exactly what happens when you force diversity on screen for the sake of numbers.

In reference to Peter Parker’s high school friend Ned, played by Jacob Batalon, a Filipino, Johnson said, “his character is straight out of the Asian-Minority Sidekick to a White Hero handbook. Spit some funny lines, look amazed, live vicariously, and your greatest aspiration is to be the backup tech guy for the white hero.”

Johnson also laments about how the film didn’t cast the titular hero as a black or latino actor. Specifically citing Miles Morales, a half-black and half-latino character who is in fact referenced in the film and who in the comic books is another Spider-Man that exists alongside the Peter Parker Spider-Man.

“So Spider-Man: Homecoming can use elements from Miles’ life and even make reference to him with a huge star, but for some reason it just somehow couldn’t find a way to cast the black guy as a Spider-Man lead.”

Johnson’s final complaint lies in the use of minority actress in the film, “In Hollywood, comic book films’ diversity still means giving white guys their choice of mixed-race or light-skinned, Hollywood-approved women of color as love interests.”

Long gone are the days we can watch a superhero movie and escape from reality for a few hours. No longer can we kick back, with a sense of wonder, and marvel in a boy who shoots webs, climbs walls, fights super villains and is still in love with the girl next door. No, today, we must count every minority in the cast, decide if they adequately empower, keep a look out for non-gentrified neighborhoods, and decided how we as an audience can fix it.

Johnson complains, “Homecoming only gives you that self-congratulatory, ‘Hey, we put a Black History Month flyer in the break room. What else do you want?’ diversity that’s become a hallmark of Hollywood in the #OscarsSoWhite era.”

Little does he realize, it’s this forced notion of racial diversity that gets you exactly that.

Spider-Man has taught many generations that “with great power comes great responsibility,” but it leaves you wondering — is it really Spider-Man’s job to teach lessons in diversity in the first place?


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