Your faves are problematic, not irredeemable

Sarah Simon, Views Editor

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Every first of October, I wake up to the same thought: Halloween season has begun and it’s time to watch “Beetlejuice.” This year, that urge came with a guilty conscience. Though I was raised on the works of director Tim Burton, an interview on Sept. 29 placed him in the complicated position of “problematic fave”.

The term “problematic fave” originated on Tumblr in 2013 with the blog “Your Fave is Problematic.” The blog identifies celebrities, jokes and public statements with problematic views. 

The blog does not aim to dissuade people from appreciating these things, but it raises awareness for mainstream occurrences that are not acceptable. It’s a means of holding society accountable for harmful opinions, jokes and comments. 

It is possible to reconcile problematic celebrities and their art, but it has to come with analysis of whom they harm and what privileges they have. 

Burton’s interview explained his reasoning for the predominantly white cast for his new film “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” He argued that his casting choices only come under scrutiny because of the culture of political correctness, and if his cast were all people of color, nobody would be demanding more white actors. 

Burton is forgetting the real issue: the only black actor in his movie plays the villain. This actor, Samuel L. Jackson, is the first black actor in a Burton film. 

Crafting an image of the one black character as the villain, even in a fantasy world, serves to further the idea of black men as dangerous or scary. In a world where black men are dying by the hands of police, Burton’s casting choice is very worrisome. Perpetuating this image reinforces stereotypes that have led to actual death.

That being said, this is not a call to boycott the film. Perhaps a positive response to Jackson’s character could inspire Burton to hire more actors of color in the future. Burton has heard the critiques, and his response may be inadequate for now, but working with actors of color may persuade him to increase his analysis. 

Burton is not the only example of the problematic fave. Mark Ruffalo, who is speaking at Tulane next month, has received criticism for casting Matt Bomer as a transgender woman in his upcoming film “Anything.” Transgender activist Jen Richards called this issue out on Twitter.

Richards explains that cisgender men perform violence against transgender women based on the premise that they are men in disguise. Having a man actually dressed as a woman reasserts that idea and will justify more violence.

Liking Burton and Ruffalo is still okay. We demand more of the celebrities we like and should hold them accountable. 

Woody Allen may be garbage, but he did reinvent the romantic comedy genre with “Annie Hall.” It is possible to enjoy content while recognizing that the content creator is problematic. Hopefully, Woody Allen is not a fave. His film, however, can be a fave as long as it comes with a personal reckoning of what matters more: significant content or problematic creators. 

It’s okay to have problematic faves, as long as you know why they are problematic and why they are your fave. Don’t feel bad about curling up with Halloween candy and a Tim Burton film, but do note the lack of diversity in his films.

Sarah is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]