Note from BW of Brazil: The story we bring you today represents so much that we discuss on this blog. This story blew up last week when a young boy received a message from an actor from the latest Star Wars film. A young boy receiving a message from any star would probably be a big deal for any youngster, but in the context of an ultra Eurocentric Brazilian media, its an even bigger deal!
‘Star Wars’ actor posts photo of black Brazilian boy who saw himself in his character
John Boyega, the actor who plays the only black protagonist of the new movie of the saga, shared the photo of a Brazilian child holding a doll of his character that went viral on the web; “You are a king, young man,” wrote the actor, who has already been the target of prejudice among supposed “fans” of the saga.
Courtesy of Revista Forum and Band Entretenimento
Via Instagram, British actor John Boyega sent a message to the 4-year old Brazilian boy who took a picture holding a doll of Finn, the character he plays in Star Wars: o despertar da Força (Star Wars: The Force Awakens): “It’s time to be thankful. From what you carry in your hands to the potential of your mind, you are a king, young man,” he wrote last Saturday (9th), sharing the original photo, posted the previous day by the boy’s mother.
The photograph in which Matias Melquíades appears recognizing himself in the only black character in the saga’s new film viralizou (went viral) on the web and was shared on Facebook by more than nine thousand people. After the image had almost 10,000 shares and more than 35,000 likes, John Boyega, the actor who plays Finn, published the photo and sent a message to his Brazilian fan.
“He didn’t even know what Star Wars is, he knows that the doll is like him,” Matias’s mother Jaciane Melquíades posted. When she saw that the British actor had shared her photo, she made another posting thanking the star for the message: “Representation constructing bridges. That’s it!!!! Matias saw John Boyega. John Boyega saw Matias. May every child to see himself represented.”
The presence of a black character in a film of the saga was the center of a controversy last year when the last trailer was released. Racist fans proposed a boycott of the film because of the black hero, accusing the production of promoting “white genocide” and “cultural Marxism”.
Shortly after the prejudiced reaction, however, the racists became the subject of criticism and jokes on social networks. The hashtag itself that they created, #BoycottStarWarsVII, was appropriated by those who were against the idea.
Note from BW of Brazil: Exposing the extreme whiteness of Brazil’s media has been a popular topic on this blog for some time because, unless you live in Brazil and have watched television or film, you may not understand why discussing this topic is so important. What today’s post chows us is that black children can pick up this absence of their images as well. How is a black child supposed to feel when all of the TV commercials, magazine covers and TV shows that present children always feature children that look as if they were born in Europe? And partly due to this invisibility, when they go to school, one of the most important places for socialization, they are the targets of racist comments and jokes. What does Brazil intend to do when a black child asks if there is a such thing as a black princess? Or why none of the dancers on every little girl’s favorite TV show look like them?
What I find amazing (or maybe not) is that whites are so accustomed to seeing themselves in the media that when others seek representation in a white world, it is labeled “cultural Marxism”. In fact, looking deeper into the issue, I can even see the point in the accusation. But what they fail to see is how looking at the world from a Eurocentric perspective affects those who don’t look European. In Brazil and numerous other nations that have multi-racial populations, this Eurocentric viewpoint often leads to numerous psychological and identity issues, many of which we’ve previously touched upon on this blog. All of this once again leads me to suggest something that I have written previously. People are quick to label such ideas as somehow being racist or preaching segregation, but in a culture based upon white supremacy, why not have separate media for non-whites? As Brazil has no plans to make any significant changes in its media representation, what is the problem with having representation for those who are not represented? I think we all know the answer to this but I’d be curious to know what justification people would have rejecting such an idea.