This morning LexG/Ray Quick observed that “nobody at all has the balls to whip up a serious think piece on the interracial sex in Focus, which is maybe the first fizzy blockbuster big-studio movie in recent memory, if ever, to pair up a black superstar with the WHITEST, BLONDEST CHICK EVER having full-on sex. (I’m sure middle-aged black women in particular are delighted by this.) The movie is positively historic in this sense [except] nobody wants to comment on it.”
I suspect that everyone is stone-cold afraid to write about the Focus sex scenes, much less explore viewer reactions. Everyone, that is, except The Daily Beast‘s Jen Yamato. Last Friday the former Deadline staffer alluded to a pair of despicable racist sentiments as a way into a piece titled ‘Racists Attack Will Smith’s Focus Over Film’s Depiction of An Interracial Relationship.’
Yamato noted that “in his two decades as a bona fide leading man, Smith has never before gotten down with a white woman onscreen.” And yet he “almost did in Hitch (’05) opposite would-be co-star Cameron Diaz. [But] she was recast and Eva Mendes got the gig instead, and Smith blamed Hollywood. ‘How are you not going to consider Cameron Diaz?,” Smith told Female First UK. “That becomes massive news in the US. Outside America, it’s no big deal. But in the US, it’s still a racial issue.”
If it was an issue ten years ago it’s surely still an issue today, certainly in the minds of some. There are others, apparently, who are offended that the issue has even been raised. Yesterday morning Yamato’s article prompted a slapdown from TechnologyTell‘s Stephen Silver in the form of a piece called “No, There’s No Racist Backlash Against Focus.”
Silver’s beef was mainly that Yamato had alluded to only two online racist reactions to the Focus sex scenes, but his underlying point seemed to be that acknowledging such views only feeds the fire.
I didn’t touch this yesterday because I didn’t want to get Twitter-bombed. I suspect I’m not the only one. The lack of even a passing mention of the Smith-Robbie sex scenes by reviewers indicates, I think, a certain fearfulness. Yesterday I was going to mention a possibility that the underwhelming Focus box-office may have had something to do with hinterland audiences experiencing slight levels of discomfort over this, but I figured I’d get murdered on Twitter for either harboring racist sentiments or tolerating same. This is the terrorist climate in which we live. In Warren Beatty‘s Bulworth the sexual mingling of races was called the salvation and solving of our cultural differences, but in certain areas of FoxNews Nation such couplings are, I’m sure, regarded askance.
The last time I looked racism was alive and well in this country. It has even been wildly theorized that racism has been a factor in the yahoo right’s resistance to President Obama and his policies. And sex is a primal thing in most people’s heads. Yamato reminds that in a 1991 episode of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air called “Guess Who’s Coming To Marry?”, Smith’s Aunt Janice (Charlayne Woodward) “introduces the family to her fiancé, a white man, upsetting Will’s mother so much she refuses to attend the wedding.” So it wouldn’t be all that crazy to at least ask if the Smith-Robbie couplings might have stirred a certain resistance in certain pockets of the country. And if this might have been a slight factor in the film’s underwhelming box-office.
It’s possible, I suppose, but it’s probably wiser to steer clear. Or so I reasoned in my cowardly mind. We live in a climate of Twitter terrorism. Roving gangs of p.c. goons, ready to pounce upon anyone for anything that doesn’t sound right. On top of which we have guys like Drew McWeeny claiming there’s no such thing as p.c. Twitter terrorism, and that it exists only in the minds of people who complain about it. So they’ve got everyone boxed in from all sides.