Thursday, November 19, 2009

New "Couples Retreat" Poster Racist or Just Show Business As Usual


Okay, this ain't a magic trick! Look real hard, see the black people, then you don't! See the US poster (right), then see the one for overseas (left). Black folk have been known to wade in the water since the Underground Railroad, but unfortunately in the promotional poster for Universal's "Couples Retreat", the black couple must wade far in the back if they are to appear in the poster at all. Lawd! They are so far back that they're gonna miss the boat to international shores literally.

"Wade in da water...wade in da water children...God's gonna trouble da water!"

And trouble the water He did--or somebody on his behalf--'cause that old black magic Hollywood does so well has some people crying, RACISM! Those of us inside the entertainment matrix know this practice is really business as usual. But don't get it twisted, I'm not saying it's right; it's just another day in the business of show and show marketing. Read the excerpt from the original article:

"According to England's The Daily Mail, a Universal spokesman said the updated ad was released "to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognizable in international markets.

In the U.S. version (above, left), all eight principal stars, including Hawk and Love, are seen standing knee-deep in water with their names displayed above. For the UK version (above, right), a different backdrop is shown with only the six (white) actors and actresses on display.

Any discrepancy between the posters is cause for alarm because it makes racist assumptions about target markets," says Ann Simonton, founder of the non-profit organization Media Watch. "But this is a somewhat common response to how advertisers target audiences. So much of advertising depends on our ignorance and it's important for the consumer to remain ignorant. When they eliminate diversity, it maintains this false view of our world. It's sickening to think about what the industry's motives are, but it's important that they be called on it.

Daily Mail film critic Jason Solomons weighed in over the weekend, noting, "We don't cater much for the black cinema-going audience in this country, which is a great shame, so it seems strange that when there are black stars in a major feature film, this fact isn't promoted. And, in terms of business decisions, this seems a pretty counter-productive one.

For its part, Universal has acknowledged the omission, saying it regretted offending anyone and is abandoning plans to use the revised poster in other countries."

I'll end this post with this and I've said it before: "Don't get mad, get enlightened." Truly, the fact that a black couple was even included in the film is good, right? They got paid--though I'm sure considerably less than their white co-stars, were featured in the film trailer, and earned their film credits too. So I doubt the actors will make a fuss about being taken out of the poster. Not that they don't care per se, it's just a matter of choosing your battles, feel me? Ask any reputable film distributor about promoting black actors or black films in international markets you'll see what I mean.

Read the rest of the original article HERE.


Anonymous said...

I think they probably WILL/HAVE make a big deal out of being cut out of the poster actually...happened to another friend of mine and he was VERY vocal about it...I know it's "business as usual" but Hollywood politics really SUCK sometime!!!

samantha said...

For me, Alice, it's a very gray area. Both actors who were removed are not familiar faces/names in Europe, particularly the UK where my outlet is based and as such we personally made a decision not to cover/review the flick, but at the same time, being in a position to promote actors of color we certainly should have reviewed/covered it for how else can they break the cycle of being unknown if someone isn't willing to promote them overseas?

jd_motownwest said...

Negroes.... Now you see 'em, now you don't!


steveburks said...

"...choosing your battles ...". Precisely. Better yet, don't battle at all. DIY. But when it's "their" money, there's no grounds for discussion.

Beyond calling bulls&*t, which this blog does well. Good post.