Saturday, July 25, 2009
How come there's a black chick in "Merlin"?
I've recently started watching the British series Merlin. It's not bad, not great, but a reasonable time-filler while I cook dinner. And the Arthurian legend is a cracking tale. Plus it reminds me of my younger days as a Dungeons & Dragons-playing nerd. But I digress.
It is the cast selection - mostly unknowns - which I find particularly interesting. Yes, there's the always good Anthony Head (of Buffy fame) and Bradley James as Arthur looks like Radiohead's Thom Yorke except ridiculously good-looking. And Guinevere, destined to one day become Arthur's bride, is played by Angel Coulby. Who is black.
Yeah, that's right. Apparently there were black folks in medieval England. Well, at least in this version. There is no explanation for this, she just happens to be black. The producers it seems are envisioning a fantasy world in which skin colour is not an issue.
Now you can look at this in two ways. Ethnic minorities always wish they were more represented on TV. So its a good thing, right, that a black woman gets to play one of the lead characters? Remember Morgan Freeman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves? (He was one of the only good things about that movie.)
However not many people seem to share this view. A quick browse of blogs and forums reveals many viewers who find it ridiculous. Which is understandable. It seems like a blatantly PC move which flouts any notion of historical accuracy. Well, maybe not historical accuracy per se, since Merlin is pure fantasy, but you know what I mean. You wouldn't throw random European actors into Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to play Chinese noblemen, so why do the equivalent here? Since it is apparently set it Britain circa the 5th Century AD, surely they should try and capture the feel of the era. Back then, ethnic diversity meant the Angles and the Saxons.
But then again, the show has a friggin' dragon in it. And unicorns and fairy-type creatures. And Merlin shoots people with blue fireballs. So if you can accept all those things, why is a black woman too fantastical a creature to fathom in a medieval fantasy series?
Ok you knuckleheads, I'm closing the comment thread on this one. Too much racist idiocy in the comment section, I can't be arsed having to read it anymore. I am leaving the existing comments up because it will give you a taste of how stupidly racist people are willing to get over a f*cking TV show about wizards. Wizards!
Trigger warning for those of you who don't wish to read racist abuse. Read on at your own peril.
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