but really though
looking at the characters from the ACD canon that are in the show (if I’m missing any, please let me know)…
- Watson: Joan WOC yay!
- Sherlock: white guy
- Gregson: white guy
- Moran: white guy
- Irene: white woman
- Mrs. Hudson: white woman (but she is trans! yay!)
do you not see why we want a man or woman of color as moriarty? like… good on you show for switching it up with watson and mrs. hudson but if every other canon character besides watson is white, then, like, I feel like you didn’t try hard enough
While I would love more POC characters in the show, I think that having a MOC as Moriarty (and especially a Black man) would bring up stereotypes that Black men are inherently dangerous and the villains.
I really this post about having a POC being a villain.
But yes I would love more POC in Elementary, just not as villains (but I’m white so I could be very wrong).
Well, I’m not white and the eight minutes during which I thought that Moriarity, one of the most iconically brilliant characters in the western canon, nemesis of probably THE most iconically brilliant character in the western canon, might be John Douglas — a black man from an underprivileged upbringing — were eight of the most excited minutes I’ve ever spent watching Elementary. And anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that my normal level of excitement about Elementary is nothing to sneeze at.
I desperately want Moriarty to be a POC.
If the ONLY black man in the show was the bad guy you might be on to something, but that’s not the case.
Also, I disagree with that feministdisney post. The hypothetical they bring up is pretty pointless given that we don’t have a situation where black men are always given the roles of “really cool” villains and never get to be heroes, as such we have to judge the antagonistic roles that black men get against actual reality.
The racist stereotype of criminality wrt black people and black men especially if not directly derived from is hugely, heavily influenced by the perception that black people are inherently unintelligent, brutish, and animalistic. As such black men, lacking any other way to get by, become violent thuggish petty criminals and ONLY violent thuggish petty criminals. Compare this to the way that white criminals are constantly, perpetually glamorized when they are the villains and moreover are made into dramatic and tragic antiheroes who are the protagonists of their own stories.
To reduce the issue with black people being the villains in fiction simply to the frequency with which it happens is hugely myopic. Yes, if every villain ever was black and no heroes were, clearly, that would not be okay.
But to assert that the quantity alone is the issue of such primacy to necessitate barring black people from playing complex and well-developed and important characters whether they be protagonists, antagonists, contagonists, or otherwise is completely counterproductive.
The actual issue is that black people aren’t often allowed to play full and complete characters, and an antagonist who isn’t unintelligent, thuggish cannon fodder is just as much of a rarity for black men as the stubbly hero who saves the world or wtfever.
But these lines in particular are what made me link to that post.
Yes, part of the stereotype against black people and the assumptions of criminality deal with stereotypes about intelligence levels. That’s just a part of the big picture, though. The casting of black people as criminals more often than not isn’t just about stereotypes, it’s about subconscious associations as well. It’s about patterns and assumptions in casting that are not always consciously motivated.
I think one of the reasons they didn’t cast Lucy Liu as Sherlock has something to do with the stereotypes of Asians being smart and somewhat emotionless. I love that about Elementary is that they rarely delve into tired old stereotypes. And a Black man being a criminal, even a mastermind criminal, would play into some stereotypes.
Conveniently, those lines in particular are what I aggressively disagree with.
The assumptions of criminality based on assumed lack of intelligence isn’t “just part of the big picture.” The assumed lack of intelligence (and violent, animalistic nature) is what INFORMS the stereotype of criminality. It’s what causes those subconscious associations in the first place. People don’t just associate black people with crime/being criminals as a whole, but a very, very specific sort of intrinsic criminality in which they have no real agency.
A black man being an enigmatic mastermind who happens to perform criminal acts in the course of his majestic game of intellects with Sherlock Fucking Holmes is not playing into any stereotype because the core of the stereotype is that black people are dumb, brutish, and violent and as such don’t know how to operate properly in “civilized” society and thus are naturally inclined towards criminality aka the disregard of society’s laws. The stereotype in no way intersects with brilliant geniuses who choose to step outside of the boundaries of society in order to exercise their intellect while having no concern for lesser beings.
Or to break it down further: the problematic stereotype regarding black people is that of being, in essence, subhuman. Characters of the Moriarty (and Holmes) archetype are rooted in being superhuman.
They are utterly and completely opposite and failing to acknowledge that simply because they both roughly take the role of antagonists is failing to see the forest for the trees.
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