Thank God for Samuel L. Jackson. He’s one of the few big movie actors today who is always quotable. He always has something interesting to say - whether you agree with him or not. This time it’s about racism and Hollywood.
In an interview in the International Business Times over the weekend, Jackson said that Hollywood, by and large, still avoids dealing with racism and that 12 Years A Slave is a perfect example of that.
According to Jackson, the only reason why the film got made was because director Steve McQueen is British and not African-American, implying, I assume, that his take on slavery would be “safer” in a manner of speaking.
As Jackson said: "I would think that if an African-American director went into a studio and pitched that particular film, they would be like: 'No, no, no.' It is a film about African-Americans – a dark period of history that they don't like to explore in that particular way."
He further added that: "Look, I'm glad 12 Years got made and it's wonderful that people are seeing it and there is another view of what happened in America. But I'm not real sure why Steve McQueen wanted to tackle that particular sort of thing."
I should, at this point, add that personally I’ve always thought and have said that the fact that McQueen was not African-American made him more likely to make a film about slavery, since I hold that African-Americans are still too psychologically shell-shocked, and therefore African American directors too, in dealing with the subject. But then that’s me (Charles Burnett's Nightjohn and Gordon Parks' Solomon Northup's Odyessy, the original 12 Years A Slave, being a few exceptions).
Jackson went on to say that a film such as Fruitvale Station is more honest and “braver” than 12 Years was, in dealing with the subject of race in America:
"It explains things like the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the problems with stop and search, and is just more poignant. America is much more willing to acknowledge what happened in the past: 'We freed the slaves! It's all good!' But to say: 'We are still unnecessarily killing black men' – let's have a conversation about that."
So what do you say. Do you agree with Jackson, or is he talking nonsense?