Daniel Craig has given the world ten good years of playing James Bond, England’s (beloved) spy. So it made sense when Craig mentioned leaving the Bond franchise after the upcoming Spectre release, the turbines of the rumor mill flew off the hinge.
To help casting directors, fans declared Black actor Idris Elba the next 007. It seemed like a great fit, Elba played savvy drug-dealing businessman Stringer Bell in The Wire and currently stars as a detective in Luther. And no one could forget how he epitomized dapper while he played former South African president, the late Nelson Mandela.
While everyone celebrated the possibility of a new Bond, Anthony Horowitz had some choice words about the idea. The new author of the James Bond book series claimed to remove any “color issue” as he called Elba “too street” to play a devious, womanizing and murderous spy. In his interview with the DailyMail, he added that Elba simply wasn’t “suave” enough for the role.
Twitter had a few questions for this Horowitz guy. How can a man who has mastered the “smize” not be considered suave? Has Horowitz watched an Elba film? Did he forget that Idris Elba is British? Seriously, he was literally born and raised in the UK.
The backlash following Horowitz’s comments was widespread.
Starring Idris Elba as Dr. Robotnik. Starring Idris Elba as Goku. Starring Idris Elba as Whoopi Goldberg. Starring Idris Elba as EVERYTHING.
— Jonathan H. Gray (@jongraywb) September 1, 2015
Idris Elba once set a Land Speed Record driving a Bentley Continental GT Speed. Maybe the question should be: can James Bond play Idris Elba — Eliza Bayne (@ElizaBayne) September 1, 2015
Pretty sure that if Idris Elba were cast as James Bond, the film would break box office records. That man is the definition of suave.
— Tiffany Vogt (@TVWatchtower) September 1, 2015
Also James Bond is for old people. A great way to introduce the classic character to a new audience would be to cast Idris Elba. — Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) September 1, 2015
Black Twitter threw up its hands and had a fit. For one thing, Idris Elba practically created the word suave. And another question was raised, is Horowitz’s label “too street” an indirect code to call Elba “too black?”
Mr. Horowitz finds Idris Elba too “street” (read: black) to be James Bond? Forget him, Idris. You’ll never be too street for these sheets.
— Jackée Harry (@JackeeHarry) September 1, 2015
if your argument is that idris elba playing james bond would change the race of the character please explain white people playing egyptians
— smile more often (@meechonmars) September 1, 2015
Idris Elba cant be James Bond, he wont be able to drive an Aston Martin without being pulled over every 15 minutes. That will ruin the movie
— كثير Açe (@YouStalkSam) September 1, 2015
In reality the author’s comments highlight the effects from the lack of cultural diversity in television and movies. It is eerily similar to the reaction white fans of the Hunger Games series had when they went into the theater and saw a few of their favorite characters played by Black people. Even though the description of the characters in the book was vague, white readers felt an injustice had been served because Black people were portraying characters they had fallen in love with. What happened to acting being about the talent and not the skin complexion of the actor?
Horowitz has since apologized for his remarks, but the voice of Black Twitter has already called him out for its insincerity. Fact is, calling Elba “too street” to act in a role previously held by white men is racist. Horowitz is apologizing for the uproar caused by his comments, not for his frame of thought about Black actors.