By: Nydja Hood
Anthony Horowitz, author of the original James Bond novel series, has faced a lot of
backlash recently for his controversial comments in the media surrounding speculation
about actor Idris Elba portraying the iconic character on the big screen. Horowitz told the Daily Mail in a recent interview, “For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not colour issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”
Even though Horowitz attempted to detach a racist connotation from his comments,
many people were still not convinced. The word “street” did not settle well with
people on social media, who persisted that it is a racially stereotypical term
nonetheless, believing there was subliminal meaning to Horowitz’s commentary.
Fellow writers didn’t respond favorably to the comments. Columnist, cultural critic
and editor Jamilah Lemieux tweeted, “Is ‘street’ the UK’s version of ‘urban’ in terms of
coded racism? Idris Elba is a lot of things, but ‘street’ ain’t one of ‘em.”
The “007” author has since apologized for his comments on Twitter, declaring that it
was not his intention to “cause offence,” however, the situation at hand has definitely
displayed how word choice could subconsciously perpetuate racist stereotypes.
There are still questions surrounding where Horowitz gathered his conception about
Idris’ “street-like” image. Was it based off of the roles that he’s seen Elba has portrayed
throughout his career? Perhaps it could have been Horowitz’s perception of Elba’s off-
screen persona that convinced him he was not a good fit for James Bond.
Even though the official James Bond casting choice has yet to be confirmed, one could
hope that racial stereotypes do not influence the casting director’s ultimate decision in
who scores the role.