Samuel L Jackson: Brilliant, But Tone Deaf


What this isn’t, is an article about how ‘Samuel L Jackson is cancelled‘ what this isn’t, is an article about how ‘Samuel L Jackson is old and overrated‘ this isn’t even an article about the ‘L’ in Samuel L Jackson and why no one pronounces it (am I the only one who can see it?)

No, this is an article about competitive suffering, the black community and how just because black Brits aren’t daily being gunned down in the streets by a Klansmen cosplaying as police; doesn’t mean Britain is some black utopia.

The controversy all started when Samuel when being interviewed on New York  radio station Hot 97. Discussing the social commentary horror Get Out. He felt British actor Daniel Kaluuya was less suitable for the role as he couldn’t relate as an African American actor as:

‘Daniel grew up in a country where they’ve been interracial dating for a hundred years,

Right. Firstly, it’s certainly interesting that he feels as Daniel isn’t American he can relate to American experiences but Samuel being American can comment on British experiences? What’s also interesting is an actor, failing to grasp the concept of an actor.

But let’s double back. I don’t know what they’re telling Sam. But racial harmony is a myth here. Firstly in the last 40 years interacial marriages have increased from less than 1-5%. In America in the last 40 years it has risen from 2-8.4%. Now it’s certainly true that America is a racist country. Maybe it could be argued different a year ago, but Trump? Nah, it’s officially AmeriKKKa now. But while it’s been a minute since the last lynching over here. Post-Brexit hate crimes rose a shocking (but not surprising) 41% Far right parties are gaining traction all over Europe. Police are racist and happily justify their racist targeting of black men. And the murder of Mark Duggan is a recent tipping point of a community oppressed by the police. And Stephen Lawrence? Anthony Walker? The most famous, but certainly not the only cases.

Oh and America isn’t the only country that hates immigrants. That whole Brexit vote? Don’t let anyone tell you isn’t wasn’t run on a strong diet of ‘NO MORE IMMIGRANTS!!!!’ And the day after once the pound started historically crashing – only then were those duped by the vote realising what they had done. Sound familiar? There are an infinite amount of cases that prove that Britain and most of Europe has big issues with racism, but again no one does it like the USA. But does that then mean that because ones suffering is greater, that the others didn’t happen? That’s kind of like comforting a cancer patient with ‘well damn, at least it ain’t AIDS‘ It’s not a competition, we’re all in the same boat. Literally. And you know why there’s such a glut of black British actors in America in this first place? It’s because there aren’t roles for black actors outside of drug dealers and gangsters. Even Idris had to play an American for years before he was taken seriously in the U.K.

But the truth is this isn’t the first time Sam has gone on a rant like this. Years ago he spoke out against rappers taking roles from professional actors. Which honestly is fair. And is the real issue. Many of us first remember Samuel from his star turn in pulp fiction which practically turned him into an overnight star. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Samuel made 38 film and TV appearances before pulp fiction. He played every role going whilst battling a drug problem. He’s kind of the definition of ‘putting the years in’ he was a grand old 46 before he became an ‘overnight success’ The years that Daniel hasn’t. Does that make his performance any less great? No. Does Samuel have a point? No. But it’s clear he sees himself in these young struggling actors and empathises with the young black american actor struggling to get work and being passed over for a cheaper Brit.

At the end of the day though Jackson endures because of the actor he is; not because he’s black, American and relatable. Despite the compilations of him saying ‘motherfucker’ he is an unbelievably versatile actor and easily one of the best of any generation. His decades of grinding may have made him a little bit bitter and he’s welcome to his opinions. But the highest grossing actor being a black man? That’s inspirational regardless of where you’re from. And undoubtedly countless black actors from all over the world have seen any number of his performances and decided to become an actor simply, because of what Samuel achieved and overcame. Regardless of what comes out of his mouth, he’s an inspiration. And it’d be nice if Samuel remembered that.