On Wednesday, new James Bond author Anthony Horowitz told The Daily Mail (UK) that he didn’t think Idris Elba, star of Luther and The Wire, would be a good fit for Bond.
“Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better,” Horowitz said. “For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”
Naturally, the world ended.
Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, the race-baiting pseudogenius worshipped by other leftists as the second coming of James Baldwin – and the same fellow who said that he got high while watching 9/11 occur from the roof of his apartment building, and felt nothing at all — tweeted, “Just be honest and say ‘James Bond’s being white is important to me’; and be done with it. Elba is ‘too street’ in much the same way that Obama was ‘too foreign’, and King was ‘too communist.’”
The rest of the media quickly complied with Coates’ view, piling on Horowitz with alacrity. Kwame Opam wrote at The Verge, “Saying Idris Elba is too ‘street’ to play James Bond is racist.” Zeba Blay of The Huffington Post said the same thing.
So, was Horowitz racist? No. Horowitz simply thinks Elba is wrong for the part and stumbled on the land mine of using politically incorrect language to say so. And Horowitz’s language was not racist. Elba’s most famous character, Russell “Stringer” Bell of The Wire, has been classified as a “street” character repeatedly; NPR’s 2009 profile of Elba was titled, “Idris Elba: From Street Boss To ‘Office’ Politics.” To identify Elba with one of the most iconic “street” characters of all time is not a slur against Elba, it’s a perspective on an actor.
Elba’s second most famous character, DCI John Luther from the British series Luther, is a rough-and-tumble character, as well. NPR’s interview with Elba from 2011 had Elba saying that his character “has a close relationship with rage and a resulting ability to identify with the perpetrators he pursues.” Vulture described Elba’s character thusly:
John Luther is figuratively and literally a dark knight, trudging the wet streets of a comic-book-noir London with his hands in his pockets… The most fascinating thing about him is that he keeps getting involved with shady characters not because he’s shady himself, but because he wants to make things better faster than the law will allow. He’s the accidental Popeye Doyle: a dirty cop who’s dirty because he cares so much.
Which sounds awesome–but not a lot like James Bond. Horowitz’s remark is typecasting, not racism. Which is why Horowitz explicitly said he’d prefer another black actor for Bond: Adrian Lester of Hustle.
Nonetheless, Horowitz apologized, stating:
I was asked in my interview if Idris Elba would make a good James Bond. In the article I expressed the opinion that to my mind Adrian Lester would be a better choice but I’m a writer not a casting director so what do I know? Clumsily, I chose the word ‘street’ as Elba’s gritty portrayal of DCI John Luther was in my mind but I admit it was a poor choice of word. I am mortified to have caused offence.
Elba Instagrammed: “Always Keep Smiling!! It takes no energy and never hurts! Learned that from the Street!”
Everything is now racist: Taylor Swift videos, dinosaur names from Jurassic World, and now character actor preferences. Racism used to require actual racist beliefs or activities. Now it just requires that someone be offended for some odd or ridiculous reason.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.