Critics Say Netflix’s All-Black Western Movie Has Colorism Issue

The upcoming Netflix western movie, The Harder They Fall featuring an all-Black cast, is being criticized for colorism. 

Based on real historical outlaws and cowboys, the movie features an all-Black cast, including actress Zazie Beetz who plays Mary Fields.

Mary Fields, better known as Stagecoach Mary or Black Mary, was a plus-size, dark-skinned, 6-foot tall woman who was the first Black woman to take on the dangerous role as a stagecoach mail carrier in the late 1800s.

But critics say Beetz, who is biracial, fair-skinned, and slimmer than Mary, should not have been cast for the role, and her taking the role helps the larger agenda of erasing darker, heavier Black women from their own narratives.

“It’s one thing when it’s a fictional character, but it is so much more disgusting when they do this bullsh-t with real people,” wrote one person on Twitter.

Another person commented, “Love Zazie Beetz but yea this casting is more evidence that Hollywood is afraid to showcase talent, especially in female roles, that doesn’t have some Venn diagram overlap with European features.”

Other people began praising other actresses who have turned down roles and suggested other actresses better suited to play Mary.

One Twitter user wrote, “Stagecoach Mary could’ve been BODIED by Danielle Brooks.” That person added, “Nothing against Zazie Beetz because I love her but a lot of these actors/actresses need to start pulling a Zendaya and start turning down roles that are meant for a dark skin actor.”

This is not the first time that Netflix has faced similar criticism when depicting Black characters. Netflix faced the colorism accusations for Shonda Rhimes’s Bridgerton and Black AF from director Kenya Barris whose entire cast, based on his family, consisted of light-skinned talent. Neither Beetz nor Netflix has yet to address the outrage on the casting.

The Harder They Fall stars Idris Elba, Jonathan Majors, LaKeith Stanfield, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, RJ Cyler, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, and Deon Cole.

The movie debuts on Netflix on Oct. 22.

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