Friday, 23 August 2013

Please show more respect for Josephine Baker by not getting Rihanna to play her

I remember reading about Josephine Baker as a young teenager and being astounded that a person like her had actually existed. Born 1906, she lived as a street child of St. Louie, Missori, before moving to New York City aged 15 to star in vaudeville. In 1925 she moved to Paris where she made her name and became one of the most famous and powerful people of the times. She became a star of the silver screen in such films as Zouzou, aggrivated and excited people with her self empowered sexulaity, and she was even a spy for the French government during the Second World War. An active member of the NAACP, she refused segregation at her shows. She was even asked to be the head of the American Civil Rights Movement by Martin Luther King's widow after he was assisinated. She declined, in order to properly look after her "Rainbow Tribe", her adopted children of different races. She really is an incredible woman, and if her story is to be told, it needs to be told with respect and responsibility.

So imagine my dispair, nay, HORROR, when I read on The Independant this morning that the producer of this proposed Josephine Baker biopic first choice of actress is the pop singer best known for singing about shitty weather: RIHANNA. Yeah, her, that renowned actress Rihanna. W. Lance Reynolds, of Noosa Films (the ones wanting to make the film), has issued an interesting statement about it all:

"Rihanna is one of the most talented performers of this millennium and with her unique acting and performing abilities, I have no doubt she will bring Josephine back to life on the big screen." - The Independant

One of the most "talented performers" of the past 13 years, right? "Unique acting", really? Remember Battleships? Or how about This Is The End, where she played herself. Or even those famous straight-to-DVD films of hers, Bring It On: All Or Nothing, where she played herself.

I don't really care anything about Rihanna, and if people want to put her in their shitty movies then thats up to them, but I'm worried that a cynical publicity stunt will turn a truly inspiring person into just a shallow sex and ill thought out political piss take. Yes, Rihanna once had short hair! She sings! She wears very little on stage! But please, get a real actress who can give the part the gravitas it deserves. Ms Baker is an amazing woman and I would hate to see her influence tarnished by one bad movie.


P.S. If you go to the Sex Museum in Montmartre, Paris, the top floor is dedicated to Josephine Baker. Go see it.

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