Kang basically argued that if you’ve given white male directors a pass after making a mediocre film or two or three, be fair about it and cut DuVernay a little slack also.
Everybody drops the ball at one time or another, she basically said, and DuVernay, at least, screwed up because she took a chance, which is the best excuse or rationale for failure that you can offer. A “messy script with too many affirmational platitudes and not enough character development”? Okay, but also “wildly ambitious” and “intensely personal.”
“It’s important to note the ludicrously unfair burden that A Wrinkle in Time was saddled with as soon as DuVernay signed on,” Kang writes. “It had to be both artistically dazzling and a commercial hit in order for it to be considered any kind of success. Grossly put, the ‘system’ was rigged against it.
“A truly inclusive industry would give a pass to DuVernay as it has to so many white male directors (not that her career is now in any sort of trouble). Diversity that demands all people from marginalized groups never make a mistake is no diversity at all. It’s also annoying that advocates of diversity are forced once again into a defensive posture, making a case for one of our own, when the problem has always been the scarcity of opportunities, not the merits of inclusion.
“I realize that the current argument for a more diverse entertainment landscape is largely predicated on black, brown, yellow, female and LGBTQ artists outperforming the straight white male average; their work has to be good, if not superlative. That kind of thinking has shaped much of the media response to films like Moonlight, Girls Trip, Get Out and Mudbound — that their excellence “justifies” diversity. But artists need the space to take risks, and sometimes those risks don’t pay off.
“All I can say is that I hope the executives who wield greenlighting power look at auteurs of any background as fallible human beings, as well as visionaries. DuVernay certainly proves herself [fallible] with Wrinkle. As a critic, I probably wouldn’t indiscriminately recommend the film, but I appreciated that it was a planet-hopping movie with a girl of color at the center.
“[Perhaps] DuVernay didn’t make a ‘good’ movie. What she has made is an endlessly watchable one, and I hope critics, at least, will soon embrace those other elements in addition to the film’s social milestones — just like they’d do with any other notable movie.”