BBC creativity diversity boss says Idris Elba as Luther 'not Black enough'

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I have to say I never watched Luther but have heard a lot of buzz about the show. The character was written without race in mind, it was only after Elba was cast in the role that the character became Black. Black friends of mine who are in the arts always say they prefer character roles that aren't determined by race, which can be played by anyone. I can't remember the exact reasoning but I believe it gives them more freedom to be expressive and not have to perform to stereotypes so I was a bit miffed by the comments by the head of diversity, she said:

‘We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right? But after you got into about the second series, you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic.’

Is there one type of way to be Black? I personally know some people who grew up without white friends in their area and I do not eat ethnic food that often myself. I don't think this negates from being Black, thoughts?

 
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Yeah that doesn't make any sense. There is no one black experience in the UK, there should be room for plenty of different types of roles. And it's doubly stupid because Luther is very much portrayed as a bit of a loner in the show, he doesn't really have friends just people he knows at or through work. But even if all his childhood friends were white (none that I recall meeting in the show), that would be true to some people's experiences.

And roles that are written to be race or gender blind tend to be more well-written in practice. It's rare to see race-specific roles that aren't stereotypical, and that's including if they're written by people from the culture in question who aren't immune to this type of stereotyping. So I can definitely understand why actors would gravitate towards and really like the idea of race-blind casting since that would mean more meaty roles for them.
 
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I have to say I never watched Luther but have heard a lot of buzz about the show. The character was written without race in mind, it was only after Elba was cast in the role that the character became Black. Black friends of mine who are in the arts always say they prefer character roles that aren't determined by race, which can be played by anyone. I can't remember the exact reasoning but I believe it gives them more freedom to be expressive and not have to perform to stereotypes so I was a bit miffed by the comments by the head of diversity, she said:



Is there one type of way to be Black? I personally know some people who grew up without white friends in their area and I do not eat ethnic food that often myself. I don't think this negates from being Black, thoughts?


The role was intended to focus on the man and his character - not on what he ate, his family, and who he hung out with during his downtime. None of the characters have a huge amount of background info revealed for good reason - it was not important to the narrative. This was an intense character driven endeavor.
Plus, the creator/writer Neil Cross is white and from New Zealand. I doubt that he would be capable or arrogant enough to believe that he would be able to write about being black in London.
 
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This is how we end up with stereotypes. It's nice to see representation of Black culture where necessary but it's equally important to have people living their lives while just happening to be black.

Also, is Luther even supposed to be West Indian? From the few episodes I watched his background wasn't said. So she's being stereotypical herself by saying he should be eating Caribbean food because Idris isn't even West Indian himself but until the last 10/15 years or so, anyone Black in Britain was assumed to be Jamaican.
 
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I saw the article today in this morning's Daily Mail and I thought the lady was being racist as she stated he was not black enough because he had no black friends and did not eat Caribbean food, this comes off as Ignorant. They fact she could say someone is not black on this basis is really bad. I hate how whtes always want to put black people in a box
 
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I have to say I never watched Luther but have heard a lot of buzz about the show. The character was written without race in mind, it was only after Elba was cast in the role that the character became Black. Black friends of mine who are in the arts always say they prefer character roles that aren't determined by race, which can be played by anyone. I can't remember the exact reasoning but I believe it gives them more freedom to be expressive and not have to perform to stereotypes so I was a bit miffed by the comments by the head of diversity, she said:



Is there one type of way to be Black? I personally know some people who grew up without white friends in their area and I do not eat ethnic food that often myself. I don't think this negates from being Black, thoughts?

I agree with you. To have characters written without a specific background in mind and be open to cast from a variety of actors sounds like something to strife for. Otherwise there's a danger you end up with stereotypes being perpetuated especially if the author is white.
 
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I have to say I never watched Luther but have heard a lot of buzz about the show. The character was written without race in mind, it was only after Elba was cast in the role that the character became Black. Black friends of mine who are in the arts always say they prefer character roles that aren't determined by race, which can be played by anyone. I can't remember the exact reasoning but I believe it gives them more freedom to be expressive and not have to perform to stereotypes so I was a bit miffed by the comments by the head of diversity, she said:



Is there one type of way to be Black? I personally know some people who grew up without white friends in their area and I do not eat ethnic food that often myself. I don't think this negates from being Black, thoughts?


I've never watched Luther but I agree for the most part. This is not about stereotypes. Stereotypes would be the black female characters having one dimensional bad attitudes, or the black male character being lazy smoking and/or selling weed, etc.
If the black lead in a film or television series doesn't have any black friends or partners, or participate in anything connected to their culture they come across as white washed. If the character's personal life is not really explored in the film or series, that's the exception. However, iff their personal life is a part of the storyline then the writers should make more of an effort. Otherwise it simply comes across a making sure the character is not "too black" so white audiences won't get turned off.
The problem is many screen writers are one dimensional because they are operating from their own perspective. So even if Idris gave the best audition the screen writers is not thinking outside the box in terms of how the character lives. If the white male screen writer has a preference for white women so will his character, and if all of his friends are white the character has all white friends. "Colorblind" casting has advantages and disadvantages in terms of representation.
 
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I have to say I never watched Luther but have heard a lot of buzz about the show. The character was written without race in mind, it was only after Elba was cast in the role that the character became Black. Black friends of mine who are in the arts always say they prefer character roles that aren't determined by race, which can be played by anyone. I can't remember the exact reasoning but I believe it gives them more freedom to be expressive and not have to perform to stereotypes so I was a bit miffed by the comments by the head of diversity, she said:



Is there one type of way to be Black? I personally know some people who grew up without white friends in their area and I do not eat ethnic food that often myself. I don't think this negates from being Black, thoughts?

Erm black brits are not a monolith, we come from completely different backgrounds/countries of origin.
 
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I've never watched Luther but I agree for the most part. This is not about stereotypes. Stereotypes would be the black female characters having one dimensional bad attitudes, or the black male character being lazy smoking and/or selling weed, etc.
If the black lead in a film or television series doesn't have any black friends or partners, or participate in anything connected to their culture they come across as white washed. If it's a supporting character black people won't notice or care as much, but for a lead character the writers should make more of an effort. Otherwise it simply comes across a making sure the character is not "too black" so white audiences won't get turned off.

You need to have watched the series to really give a fair comment.

Like someone's already pointed out, his character is a loaner plus it's not the kind of series that explores his everyday life to show who his friends are and what he eats. This would have to have been shoe-horned in to "signal" the character's Blackness which definitely would have been a stereotype for stereotypes' sake.
 
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You need to have watched the series to really give a fair comment.

Like someone's already pointed out, his character is a loaner plus it's not the kind of series that explores his everyday life to show who his friends are and what he eats. This would have to have been shoe-horned in to "signal" the character's Blackness which definitely would have been a stereotype for stereotypes' sake.
Yes, before you replied I edited my comment to specify that it should be done if the character's personal life is explored or a part of the storyline.
 
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I saw the article today in this morning's Daily Mail and I thought the lady was being racist as she stated he was not black enough because he had no black friends and did not eat Caribbean food, this comes off as Ignorant. They fact she could say someone is not black on this basis is really bad. I hate how whtes always want to put black people in a box
How stupid, I have not seen the show so I don't know what the characters background is in the series.

But why is she saying he does not eat Caribbean food therefore he is not black enough??

I grew up in an Angolan household so i definitely didn't grow up eating Caribbean cuisine.

And neither did my friends who's parents come from African countries.

How ignorant.
 
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How stupid, I have not seen the show so I don't know what the characters background is in the series.

But why is she saying he does not eat Caribbean food therefore he is not black enough??

I grew up in an Angolan household so i definitely didnt grow up eating varibbean cuisine.

And neither did my friends who's parents come from african countries.

How ignorant.

Exactly. Do you know how many times growing up ignorant white people would randomly ask me if I ate jerk chicken? I'm Ghanaian. But obviously they didn't know or care. Just saw Black face = jerk chicken lool she sounds no better than them.
 
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living their lives while just happening to be black

^^^ Nicely put (y)


"Colorblind" casting has advantages and disadvantages in terms of representation.

I agree, a focus on character, dialogue, action rather than trying to fit some idea of a stereotype, can create better drama, which is what my No 1 focus is when watching TV drama, not the politics TBH

But, yes, if the producers are trying to make a point about representation, they need to represent so that having a black character doesn't look like tokenism.
 
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Luther is one of my favorite shows.

Not one time did I watch the series and think about race or how Black he was suppose to be.

I'm starting to think focusing on race all the time is a sign of a primitive mind. People won't seriously evolve until we get to our higher selves. This doesn't apply to situations that obviously have to do with racism/prejudice.
 
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Exactly. Do you know how many times growing up ignorant white people would randomly ask me if I ate jerk chicken? I'm Ghanaian. But obviously they didn't know or care. Just saw Black face = jerk chicken lool she sounds no better than them.
Me too! I had a white colleague talking to me about reggae music.

I looked at him confused and explained that I am ANGOLAN originally and we have our own musical genres....

And the phrase "black culture" is dodgy, because there are soo many cultures across the diaspora.

My culture is not the same as someone originally from Barbados, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania etc....
 
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Yikes. I had to do a quick google search of the head of bb c diversity. It’s a black woman. I’m disappointed but somehow not surprised. There’s something about some black people who make it to these top creative exec positions. They somehow become subdued and conform in some way to the standards of bbc and other broadcasters. It’s quite sad that the head of diversity would really spew this nonsense
 
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I saw the article today in this morning's Daily Mail and I thought the lady was being racist as she stated he was not black enough because he had no black friends and did not eat Caribbean food, this comes off as Ignorant. They fact she could say someone is not black on this basis is really bad. I hate how whtes always want to put black people in a box
The woman who said this was black. Agree with the rest of post though
 
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I don't recall ever seeing Luther eat, ever. I think he lived on caffeine and booze. And as mentioned, Idris' heritage is west African, not Caribbean, so in the absence of information to the contrary we can assume the character to be of a similar ethnic origin. And Luther definitely doesn't have friends, not really. The only people we saw him bond with were his police partner, the psychopathic criminal that he could never quite outwit, and the teen sex-trafficking victim that he rescued. As someone suggested above, he's the lone wolf archetype. It's hard to believe he even managed to get married, but it's very obvious why said marriage flopped.

There's definitely merit to this lady's point, but she picked a really poor example to illustrate it. Perhaps that's because there are so few shows with Black leads to choose from.
 
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This is how we end up with stereotypes. It's nice to see representation of Black culture where necessary but it's equally important to have people living their lives while just happening to be black.

Also, is Luther even supposed to be West Indian? From the few episodes I watched his background wasn't said. So she's being stereotypical herself by saying he should be eating Caribbean food because Idris isn't even West Indian himself but until the last 10/15 years or so, anyone Black in Britain was assumed to be Jamaican.

When I went to London in 2009 the white people kept thinking that I was Jamaican. I thought that was funny as hell. I'm black American btw.
 
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LOL I know this woman.

Which is probably me revealing a little too much...

Do you think she meant it like fonts have taken it, or was she trying to express something else but did it poorly?

I agree with all the comments about blackness not being a monolith, risk of stereotyping and it being important that there are characters going about their business who just happen to be black.

But I do wonder what it says of our society where we can have rated and beloved black characters but only if they're not 'too black', darker skin fine, different/unfamiliar culture bad. I guess it's baby steps.
 
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And the BBC wonders why they're getting their pedo protecting asses (i.e. Jimmy Saville) handed to them by streaming services making everything they do in "GREATINGS, *Insert age/ethnicity/orientation PEOPLE!!" is meaningless.

Why should it matter about what a fictional character eats? Its a procedural series not goddamn MasterChef
 
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Stupid liberals

So now there is a monolithic black experience??

And that experience needs to be presented in arts every time?

Why is it that liberals seem to want to make everything abt race ?
 
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This is sad when someone supposed to promote diversity speaks like that.

I personally can relate to Luther because that’s the kind of black I am where my skin color isn’t defining who I am and how I live. I swear most black people in certain circles feel like that and are tired to be relegated to stereotypes that we simply cannot recognize ourselves in.

Just like Olivia Pope or any other black character not relegated to stereotypical roles.
 
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The diversity boss needs to be blasted. If he was in the U.S. he would not have a job after saying something as racist and ridiculous as that. Idris can't get no blacker than he already is. SMDH. White people like this have got to be unseated. They're a mental and psychological health hazard to black people.
 

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