NEW YORK, NY -- In case you missed it this past weekend, Dominican and Puerto Rican actress Michelle Rodriguez was caught on video in Los Angeles coming out of a restaurant when a TMZ reporter asked her if she will be playing the The Green Lantern role in the upcoming Justice League series of films for Warner Bros.
Rodriguez laughingly answered: “That's the dumbest thing I ever heard. I think it's so stupid because of this whole minorities in Hollywood thing. It's so stupid. Stop stealing all the white people's superheroes. Make up your own. What's up with that?”
The question the video reporter asked Rodriguez is legitimate. The internet has been running amuck with speculation that Warner Bros. executives might be using the Jessica Cruz character angle from the DC Comics storyline. In the comics, an alternate reality universe was created where the popular superhero The Green Lantern is a Hispanic woman by the name of Jessica Cruz. Rodriguez was one of the names being thrown around for the movie adaptation.
Rodriguez’s quote hit a nerve in the collective fiber of the social media community that blasted her for her insensitive comments.
Rodriguez then later had to go on the defensive and used her Facebook page to address the issue in a video riposte:
“There are many cultures in Hollywood that are not white that can come up with their own mythology. We all get it from the same reservoir of life, the fountain of life. It doesn't matter what culture you come from. ...Instead of trying to turn a girl character into a guy or instead of trying to turn a white character into a black character or a latin character, I think that people should stop being lazy and that people should actually make an effort in Hollywood to develop their own mythology. It's time to stop-stop trying to take what's already there and try to fit a culture into it. I think that it's time for us to write our own mythology and our own story, every culture. So that's what I really meant and I'm sorry if it came off rude or stupid. It's not what I meant.”
In an existence where everything we say or do is anatomized and as a result judged, Rodriguez should have thought her language through. Nevertheless, barring her choice of words, I don’t completely disagree with her.
In my opinion, we are losing the ability to birth original ideas. We live in a world where recycling old concepts has become the norm, in particular, movies (i.e: remakes, reboots, reimagining, etc). We've lost that visionary culture, and in Hollywood, it's cheaper and less risky to follow the path of least resistance and stick to what has already been created.
That’s not to say original ideas don’t happen at all, but they just don’t happen that frequently. Yet we are at the perfect time for showcasing fresh new voices and stories. Demographics have changed and the country has changed. Now is the time for Hollywood to harness the creativity of different voices - including the multiplicity of Latino voices, colors and stores - and come up with fresh roles and compelling stories.
To Rodriguez’s point, perhaps it is time we take a step back and immerse ourselves in an out-of-the-box look at everything we're doing. It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible.
Hopefully, in the near future, Rodriguez will get her wish of an original mythology of diverse superhero characters. I believe that comics and movies are paving the way for that day.
Until then, though, I think Michelle Rodriguez should consider playing a superhero if she gets the offer. She would be exceptional at it.