In a post headlined “Dear Hollywood: Spiritual Dramas Aren’t Just for White People,” Gizmodo writer Evan Narcisse has a very specific race gripe: The afterlife is too white.
Prompted by watching Netflix supernatural drama The OA, Narcisse has written an article for the tech blog that is just plain odd.
He writes about the show in which Brit Marling plays a young blind woman who has encounters with the afterlife: “There was something jarring about seeing an ethereally affected white woman call herself the Original Angel, as if she had floated off a Renaissance painting of a biblical miracle and onto the TV screen.
“In this way, The OA is another example—like the 1996 John Travolta vehicle Michael, K-PAX and Powder— of how whiteness is treated as the default whenever a story decides to take a metaphysical look at the spiritual.
“Think of any movie or TV show starring someone purporting to be an angel, and that angel will be white (although the roles of other, supporting angels may have more diversity). Modern religious epics still cast Caucasian actors as the decidedly non-Caucasian Noah, Moses and others. Only recently has God been played by anyone other a white person, thanks to Morgan Freeman’s gravitas and sonorous voice.”
Citing a two-decades old John Travolta flop comedy as evidence—not to mention ignoring Will Smith’s recent movie fascination with the afterlife or Eddie Murphy comedy The Haunted Mansion—strikes us as shaky ground on which to build a thesis.
But Narcisse continues: “The message that comes across from the aggregate paleness of supernatural/spiritual fiction like The OA is that the interior spiritual lives of black people and other folks on the margins don’t matter as much. Usually, non-white characters appear, help out white folks, and get out of the way. It’s the Magical Negro trope, and among its many problems is how the wants and needs of the Negroes themselves are never paramount. Even Morgan Freeman’s God in the Almighty movies only shows up to help the white mortals he’s granted omnipotence to.
“This makes it appear that religion in general—and divine beings in specific—have no interest in non-white people. And the status quo is furthered by the fact that non-white characters never seem to have any religious turmoil or spiritual awakening in their own lives.”
Narcisse observes: “But that’s not true. Because I know firsthand that stranger things happen to us, too.” He then relates a long. meandering account of a “Brush With The Unexplained” about an eerie incident involving his mother in Haiti.
He concludes: “Weirdness doesn’t just happen to white people. I’ve seen proof of it with my own two eyes.”
Far be it from us to disrespect the writer’s memories or family heritage, but the only thing this piece “proves” is that Gizmodo lets its writers ramble at will.