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Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

Ava DuVernay, I love you. But please stick to making documentaries like The 13th, because this adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time was utterly absurd and undeniably one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, because I am a huge fan of you. I integrate your film The 13th in every single one of my classes when teaching about mass incarceration- to the point that I’ve probably seen it about ten times by now. I have practically memorized lines from your work.

And yes, I had been so excited for Wrinkle you don’t even understand. I was even excited for the diversity. It looked different from the book but I thought I could appreciate the vision of the film as its own entity distinct from the book. But the essence of the story was COMPLETELY ERASED. The tone and setting of the book captures the Darkness, and it emphasizes quirkiness, almost in a Tim Burton- way. The book incites such deeply entrenched philosophical questions and engages scientific thought, to the extent that when Madeline L’Engle tried to publish it, publishers couldn’t tell if it was a book for adults or children. The film, on the other hand, was glamorized to the point that glitter and glitz were more prominent characters than anything else- while cutting out actual characters that enlivened the story in the book. I kept hoping and thinking that it would get better- at least by the climax, by the time we get to Red Eyes. But, nope, the scene was a joke. If I wasn’t watching the film and someone showed me that scene, I would have thought that it was a mocking parody. I kid you not.

I am a sucker for interracial couples and families (like Meg and her parents in the film). I am a sucker for diverse representations in art, media, culture and the public space. But I realized DuVernay tried way too hard to diversify it up – AT THE EXPENSE of the story. It felt forced. And that is when you need to take a look and question how we are approaching this whole “diversity” plan. Diversity simply for the sake of diversity doesn’t do much. Part of the movement for diversity within art is telling diverse stories, not just merely inserting a diverse cast in place of otherwise supposedly white characters. This could have even worked as a completely re-imagined story/spin-off of the original, to integrate the experience of diversity and blackness and brownness with the themes of love and acceptance that is at the heart of the original story. But even that wasn’t the case. To really begin to spur the diversity movement, we don’t need to insert ourselves in the stories of white characters- we can create our own. But we can also continue to appreciate other stories – yes, even with white characters – for their own sake. Let the stories speak for themselves.

I left the film reeling with disappointment and to be honest, glad that L’Engle isn’t alive to see it. Ava, I look forward to your next work that hopefully isn’t with Disney. Until then, I’m going to go and hold on to my own vision of wrinkling in time.

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