The folks behind “The Walking Dead” should have known better.
In a misguided attempt to honor Oscar-nominated films leading up to the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, Skybound Entertainment – one of the production companies behind “The Walking Dead” – tweeted out an image that parodied the iconic three-tinted “Moonlight” movie poster that shows the three stages in the life of one black man (played by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes) in one facial collage. The problem? The character Skybound chose to feature in its posters is young Carl Grimes, who is white.
— The Walking Dead (@TheWalkingDead) February 22, 2017
— hilbin (@steveinbucky) February 22, 2017
The response was immediate and overwhelmingly negative. Fans following the account expressed disbelief that the poster passed the brainstorming stage, while others called for the tweet to be deleted. At the time of this story’s post, the tweet was still live.
It’s not too difficult to see what Skybound was trying to convey. The character Carl (Chandler Riggs) has grown up before our eyes, maturing from a callow youth to a hardened killer who lost one eye in the zombie apocalypse. Hence, the use of the word “Eyesight” as a play off of the title “Moonlight.”
The problem with the “Walking Dead” poster is that “Moonlight” is a film that is deeply important to black culture about black culture. Taking that story, the very symbols that refer to the color of black skin (the film is based on Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue”) and replacing a black character with a white one might be considered another case of whitewashing and cultural appropriation.
“Moonlight” is nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, among others.