Tim Burton is finding it difficult to answer a question about his movies — and not just “WTF was up with that Planet Of The Apes remake?”
The director known for his gloomy aesthetics is doing press for his new film, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, and a reporter for Bustle asked him something it seems no one ever has.
Why is everyone in his movies white?
For reference, here is the cast of titular Children from the film opening today:
A dozen parts, most of them played by unknowns, and not one went to a minority actor. (For the record, the invisible kid is played by a white actor also.)
There is a non-white actor in the film — Samuel L. Jackson plays the bad guy — and perhaps it was his inclusion that inspired the question.
Jackson told Bustle he “noticed” the lack of diversity, but that it wasn’t going to stop him from taking the role:
“I had to go back in my head and go, how many black characters have been in Tim Burton movies? And I may have been the first, I don’t know, or the most prominent in that particular way, but it happens the way it happens. I don’t think it’s any fault of his or his method of storytelling, it’s just how it’s played out. Tim’s a really great guy.”
For the record, Burton cast Billy Dee Williams and Michael Clarke Duncan in small roles in Batman and Planet Of The Apes, respectively. So not NO black actors at all, but in 36 films that’s a very small number…
So what was Tim’s answer for why no minorities in this and other films? He explained:
“Things either call for things, or they don’t.”
Um… So all these roles specifically called for white actors??
Or is he saying — much more likely — that unless a minority is specifically needed, why would he cast one? In other words, when things “don’t” call for things, the default is obviously white.
“I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct. Like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black. I used to get more offended by that than just… I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.”
So… The Brady Bunch shouldn’t have added minority cast members?
And this argument about “blaxploitation” movies is a total false equivalency. Those movies originally emerged exactly BECAUSE African Americans weren’t being represented in mainstream Hollywood movies.
We weren’t the only ones who didn’t find his answers at all satisfactory. Here are some of the best responses from Twitter:
Tim Burton is essentially saying “I never thought to put POC in my films because in the ideal worlds of my imagination, they don’t exist.”
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ THE UNDRAGGED (@sakilegrannum) September 30, 2016
Admitting, as a white man, that he doesn’t think diversity is necessary is the most normal thing Tim Burton has ever done.
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) September 29, 2016
Interviewer: can you explain the lack of diversity in your films
Tim Burton’s dog: *whispers to Tim*
Tim Burton [nods]: I don’t see colour
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ David Hughes (@david8hughes) September 29, 2016
tim burton: i dont see the need for diversity
time burton: [has been making the same movie over and over since 1988]
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ ├░┼╕ΓÇ¥┬¬Jason Voorbees├░┼╕ΓÇ¥┬¬ (@beesmygod) September 30, 2016
No one is asking #TimBurton to force diversity into his movies but the mere fact that he can’t picture a diverse cast w/o it being forced? ├░┼╕ΓÇÖΓÇ¥
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ Kyra Sims (@lilymischief) September 30, 2016
I’m disappointed in Tim Burton. His aesthetic shaped my adolescence, but as I got older I realized his worlds have no one who looks like me.
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ Juniper the Gooseman (@Jennifer_deG) September 29, 2016
To be fair, Tim Burton usually only casts the same three people over and over again, so he’s not even diverse in the white people he hires.
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ Valentina Cano (@valca85) September 29, 2016
Tim Burton is cancelled.├░┼╕╦£ΓÇ¥├░┼╕╦£ΓÇ¥
├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ Trudy (@thetrudz) September 29, 2016
What do YOU think of Burton’s diversity reasoning??