Annie (2014): A Black Annie and White Racism

DISCLAIMER: I haven’t seen the movie ‘Annie’. This is going by articles pertaining to the movie and the racism that perceives it. 

Quvenzhané Wallis, an up-and-coming child star who starred in the motion picture Beasts of the Southern Wild, is cast in the 2014 version of the popular musical Annie. The movie also stars Jamie Foxx as ‘Benjamin Stacks’ (an up-to-date Daddy Warbucks) and Cameron Diaz as Miss Hanigan. And from the preview alone, it looks like a fun-for-the-whole-family film that’s hard not to enjoy.

For those not in the know, Annie is based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie by Harold Gray. It’s about, as the title suggests, an orphan among several who eventually gets adopted by billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. At first, Warbucks didn’t care too much for Annie, but over time, he decides that he truly loves her and takes her in. That’s pretty much Act I. I won’t give too much away.

Sounds like a heartwarming tale of love and kindness, right? Sounds like there will be laughs, tears and cheers, right? Sadly, none of that matters to some people when it came to the modernized version of the musical. The problem’s apparently not with the plot, the acting or any little things overlooked in the editing room. No, the problem a lot of people – white people as it seems – have with the film is that a black girl is casted as the titular character who always appeared as a curly, redheaded white girl.


annie-2014_640xIrate (mostly) white people vented on Twitter and Facebook their disgust that Annie is a black girl. Some were furious – overt, southern-style racist furious. Then, of course, you have the usual “I’m not racist, but” racist comments. Interesting how there wasn’t this much outrage when ‘Exodus’, a biblical story taking place in a region where people had color but had the main characters casted as white folks, debut. Who cares about historical accuracy? Fictional characters have always been and must stay white.

It’s times like this I have to wonder what it is about white skin that’s so damn appealing while black skin is feared, ignored and hated. Why is whiteness so valued when you take away myths that any logical person would classify as completely insane and stupid? Why is being white valued above almost everything else, except maybe material possessions and wealth?

But I’m not supposed to question the pathology of whiteness, because that’s racist. Somehow such questions will harm scores of white people in a way their supposed ‘oppression’ will strengthen. Somehow wondering what the hell is wrong with these haters is worse than their actual hatred over a fictional character.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02:  Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis filming "Annie" on December 2, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Steve Sands/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 02: Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis filming “Annie” on December 2, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/Getty Images)

I can understand if the film’s direction was not up to par with the hype it produced or that the actors didn’t deliver. But you have angry white folks upset that the main character is black. It’s weird there is such emotional dysfunction over a girl who doesn’t exist beyond stage and screen.  Yet, they seem oblivious that white people appear MOST OF THE TIME in movies as the main characters, even playing people of color.

Hollywood has yet to face it’s problem with its obsession with whiteness, excusing it as a business model where whiteness is believed as more likely to sell worldwide than anything else. That is the definition of what racism is and how it operates. In the end, Hollywood is no different than the rest of society who refuses to face its pathology of racism. The 2014 version of Annie may be a step in the right direction, but judging by the comments, we still have a long walk ahead.