Greetings beautiful people
If you are a pop culture junkie, like myself then you’ve heard the news that Zoe Saldana has been chosen to play the role of Nina Simone, in the upcoming biopic about the singers life. The internets (I meant to say that) are abuzz with critiques and even Nina Simone’s daughter “Simone Kelly” all pleading for the movie makers to cast someone else in the role. The general consensus seems to be that Saldana is too fair skinned, and currently culturally too pretty to play Simone. I haven’t read anyone say that she doesn’t have the acting chops to pull this off, but rather every critique I’ve read falls down to aesthetics rather that what we judge actors on; that being their ability to act.
Now I find myself in the position of critic all too often with my very rigid ideas of beauty constructs as they align with modern societies. I love my pop stars thin. I like my stars waifish, airbrushed, and devoid of any emotion until the director says action. I like women to wear high heels and men to wear nice fitting suits and to shave. Blah, blah, blah….all that to say I agree with the commercial idea of beauty, even though I make exceptions every now and then.
With that said, we all know Nina Simone did not fit our society’s idea of beauty. She wasn’t thin, she wasn’t light skinned, she wasn’t airbrushed, she didn’t have straight hair etc. What she did have was talent! She had a facility with singing, piano playing, writing, and interpreting a song that I feel only Lauryn Hill has come close to matching (pre unplugged, breakdowns, tax problems, and crazy illuminati letters). It was with her facility that Simone was able to shine when she was called ugly, too militant, and not good enough.
So when I read all the negative press that Zoe Saldana is getting, it makes me think, “Oh, you guys want the film’s producers to find someone who, by society’s standards, is unattractive?” How insulting is that to whoever plays the role? You want someone darker? Well Viola Davis already seems like a dark-skinned diva, so playing Nina Simone fierce diva ass doesn’t really test her acting chops.
I’m sure they’ll do their best to downplay Saldana’s beauty. Yet in the end it’ll come down to rather she can convincingly play the part. The people want her to have a big nose? They have prosthetics for that. These people need her to have darker skin? Light it right and get her a tan.
The thing that gets me is that the intelligent blacks on the front lines of this argument fail to see that they are falling into the historic debate amongst our people about complexion. Flashback 2 weeks ago, while hanging with a couple of my white friends, we had a discussion similar this one. One friend mentioned how he loved how African Americans where so unified as a people, because of our race and common struggle. My only response was confusion and asked him what African-Americans had he been looking at? I had to inform him about this internal war among-st my people in terms of skin complexion, class, education, sexual orientation etc (Crabs in the bucket Theory/Willie Lynch protocol). He had no idea…..and he shouldn’t have. If a family does have those kinds of skeletons in their closet, then it’s best to not make them public. And by not making it public, I mean the way the African American community is all up in arms about a light skin woman playing Nina Simone.
It’s sh*t like this that reminds us how much these superficial things matter and continue to pull us down. I’m annoyed by the gambit of head wrap wearing, incent burning, Miseducation of the Negro reading, vegan in public, but pork chewing at home hypocrites who preach unity, but instantly does that which is contrary to that message. Zoe can f*cking act! She’s popular, and easy on the eyes. The most important aesthetic issue when it comes to the role of Nina Simone was addressed…..they used someone of color. Unlike Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl, or Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, this makes sense, on both an ethnic and commercial level.
So to close in the most vapid way possible, I would like blacks to stop bitching about this and making us look like clowns who can’t get alone. If blacks continue to complain, if Simone Kelly doesn’t stop, if Demeriese Valier continues to petition, then I would like the film makers to fire Zoe Saldana from the role of Nina Simone and replace her immediately with “Meryl Streep”!
Yes I know Meryl Streep is white, but every race agrees this woman can play anyone. So if anyone can unify the black community; I’m convinced it’s Meryl Streep.