“Think Like A Man,” the new
Tyler Perry romantic comedy [Update: based on a book by Steve Harvey] about black women and men, has allegedly been banned in France because officials say the film is not diverse enough. According to blogger Fabienne Flessel at the blog Global Voices:
Surprising as it may be, the answer lies in the fact that the film has an all-black cast. French cinema is often pointed at for not fairly displaying all components of the country’s multiethnic population.
It is unclear, though, whether “Think Like A Man” has literally been banned, or if it just is not being screened. But the Global Voices blogger and several other French-speaking bloggers quoted/translated in his article seem adamant that someone in a position of power in France is uninterested in promoting films by and about black folks. One blogger claims “Tyler Perry’s movies are never scheduled in any French movie theaters or are only released in DVDs, even thought he has been used to leading the U.S. box office.”
The alleged ignorance of black filmmakers’ work may not seem like enough evidence to say the country has a problem with race. But France has also been in the news recently when some French folks objected to a Miss Black France pageant in April. Miss Black France was the first-ever beauty pageant for black women and was endorsed as being more representative of France’s diverse cultures. One supporter said:
“The purpose of this beauty contest is to shine a light on the many black women in this country who are rarely given any media attention. The Miss France competition is not nearly representative enough of modern France.”
But some critics balked at the Miss Black France pageant, complaining that purposefully excluding white women from a beauty pageant was “disturbing” and “hostile.” These critics said all pageants should be inclusive of everyone, even if they didn’t seem particularly committed to diversifying the Miss France pageant itself.
The thing to keep in mind about both of these incidents is the anti-immigrant sentiment held by some people in France. Instead of embracing a melting pot, some French people get concerned about their “national identity” and the changing definition of what it means to be French (i.e. white, Christian, etc.) as the country becomes more diverse. You don’t have to look any further than France’s recent ban on Muslim women wearing a face-covering veil in public to see an example of this uneasiness. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy claimed the anti-veil ban was a matter of women’s rights and secularism, but plenty of people said the government was trying to intimidate Muslims and fan the flames of racism.
While all these incidents might seem disparate, the underlying commonality is people of color claiming they are not “welcome” in France. While I hope there would never be an outright ban on Tyler Perry films (crappy as some of them may be) or other movies targeted towards black folks, it’s not much of an improvement if the prejudicial behavior is less blatant.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.
Image via IMDB