Young activists replace white casts with black leads on film posters around the capital
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Earlier this week, Legally Black activist group launched a photo campaign in the capital to forefront the lack of black representation in film and media. A total of seven posters were erected in Brixton bus stops in the early hours of Wednesday morning (28th Feb), depicting recreated images of films such as Harry Potter, Titanic, as well as popular television series The Inbetweeners and Skins – all of which had the original cast swapped for black actors.
Four young people (Liv Francis-Cornibert, Shiden Tekle, Bel Matos da Costa, and Kofi Asante) are behind the artwork, working alongside Legally Black and subversive advertising company Special Patrol Group to “combat the way black people are portrayed in the media”. The decision to transform iconic posters consequently challenges people’s perceptions and assumptions, striking up conversation about diversity in the industry. The reflection provoking work undoubtedly seems timely with the 90th Academy Awards being held this weekend; especially after 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite social campaign forcing Hollywood to recognise diversity issues on screen. Alongside this, the recent release of Marvel’s Black Panther rather celebrated the step in the right direction from major companies.
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With these young individuals shining a light on the debate in Brixton - an aptly chosen location considering it as a predominantly black area of the capital consistently facing influence by gentrification - the project is an innovative statement to recreate a dialogue around not only underrepresentation but also misrepresentation. Whilst the posters are somewhat satirical, the influence of a black cast can come as a surprise when the mediums are stripped of their original depiction – raising the argument that if you’re surprised it means you don’t see enough black people in major roles. In its short period, the posters have initiated discussion on social media. However, by Friday 2nd March, most of the posters had been removed and replaced with advertisements for global companies such as McDonald’s, ultimately making the debate of underrepresentation ever more pertinent.
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