The Nerd community is a really tough bastard to please. The Black Nerd community, maybe even more so. Still, because we rarely get what we want, throwing us a really big bone is often a good way to buy yourself some goodwill and keep our adamantium claws firmly in our hands a bit longer. Storm is probably the biggest get out of jail free card that may never get played. This week, Bryan Singer announced that they had found their next Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm for the X-Men: Apocalypse film.
Now, you’ll probably notice…they are young. Like, could be Famke Janssen’s kids young. But that was to be expected, considering that the Apocalypse Film was essentially going to be set in the “First Class” timeline with no wonky time travel going on this time (new powered up Kitty Pryde not included). So, we weren’t going to get the old Scott, Jean and Ororo in their Hollywood Geriatric state and that’s fine cuz bruh, that’s actually a good thing. So, we can talk Sansa Stark playing Jean Grey (I’m going to need more convincing) or Tye “You might remember me from Mud, actually naw, you probably don’t” Sheridan playing Cyclops, but come on, fam. You’re on Black Nerd Problems right now…you know we’re gonna talk about Ororo Da Literal Gawd.
I do not come to bury Alexandra Shipp. I don’t know Alexandra Shipp. I like her politics though. I like that she likes President Obama as more of my Black friends complain about him (*cough*Omar Holmon*cough*).
I like that she is willing to take on big iconic roles that resonate specifically with the Black community. But I also know that the Aaliyah biopic was a derailed train into a forest fire. And when movies are that bad, but the lead actress or actor is amazing, that becomes the narrative. Like, Chadwick Boseman in Get On Up. Or most small films that Tom Hardy stars in. Or Viola Davis starring in this planet Earth. None such came out of that Lifetime Feature except it might take a Lifetime to erase that from Aaliyah’s legacy. None of this is really about Alexandra Shipp though. Which really sucks for her. But it isn’t.
What this is about is the way that Hollywood continues to pretend that no impact or history lies in the darkness of someone’s skin. Well, when I say Hollywood, in this case I mean Bryan Singer. And when I say “someone’s skin,” I really mean Black Women. “What’s the real issue, it’s not like they cast a white woman as Storm, does it really need to be this complicated?” Yeah, it kind of does. Even as a fictional character, Storm is a feminist symbol for Black Women the way that most assume Wonder Woman has been for women all these years. Storm has always been powerful, goddess-like and African. And no, not Charlize Theron, South African. Her dark complexion has always been part of her appearance and it’s not by accident. The same way it isn’t an accident that Storm has become a beacon and symbol for women with darker skin for decades now. The unwillingness to recognize that is just another thunderbolt in the side of a demographic of women who frankly, are plenty used to it by now. Still not understanding the public contempt for this casting choice? Ok…
(Actress Alexandra Shipp)
Read More from William Evans at Black Nerd Problems