‘Being the Ricardos,’ the Aaron Sorkin written-and-directed biopic that attempts to tell the tale of a very tumultuous week in the life of iconic comedienne Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz Jr., has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The film itself, which made its streaming premiere on Amazon on Tuesday, December 21, is a rather pedestrian affair that suffers from an unsound narrative structure, tonal inconsistencies, and a painfully poor script.
Sorkin’s writing style, which can best be described as ‘walking, talking and exposition,’ is an acquired taste – one which I have yet to acquire.
Making matters worse is that Sorkin’s quirky writing desperately needs a master craftsman director to make it work, like David Fincher on ‘The Social Network,’ but Sorkin is a hack behind the camera and thus ‘Being the Ricardos’ falls flat on its phony face.
But the reason ‘Being the Ricardos’ is making headlines is not because it’s a middling affair. No, the film is getting attention because it’s mired in the most manufactured of controversies.
Apparently, the film committed the most unforgivable of sins by casting Oscar winning actor Javier Bardem as Arnaz opposite Oscar winning actress Nicole Kidman as Lucy. Why is Bardem playing Desi Arnaz a problem? Well, Bardem is a Spaniard and Arnaz a Cuban, which somehow violates some sacred woke law of diversity, inclusion, and representation. To quote Colonel Kurtz from ‘Apocalypse Now,’ “The Horror. The Horror.”
One know-nothing guardian of the grievance culture complained that Bardem was, like his Spanish ancestors, being a “colonizer” by playing the Cuban Arnaz.
“They (the Spanish) came in and erased who we (Latinos) were, and I can’t help but feel the same way when Bardem gets roles meant to share the Latinx experience.”
That bit of hysterical hyperbole overlooks the fact that many Hispanic and Latino families proudly identify not just with their national origins, but with their distant Spanish roots out of class-consciousness, and that Desi’s wealthy, upper-class Cuban family most likely did too.
Director Sorkin tried to defend his casting of Bardem, saying, “it’s heartbreaking and a little chilling to see members of the artistic community resegregating ourselves.”
Considering Sorkin’s long-time, mealy-mouthed complicity with Hollywood’s diversity-obsessed woke warriors more interested in ‘representation’ than in artistry or quality, that statement is the equivalent of someone who made it rain outside complaining about the weather.
Another amusing thing about this contrived controversy is that no one is making a stink about Nicole Kidman, an Aussie non-comedienne, playing the most iconic American comedienne of all time, Lucille Ball. OK, Kidman may have technically been born in Hawaii, but to Australian parents only there on student visas. I’ve heard her ‘g’day mate’ accent and I bet she likes cricket, wombats, and ‘Men at Work’ too. She’s not a real American.
No one ever cares when British or Australian actors play Americans, and do so with their tone deaf, nasally attempts at an American accent. For instance, why isn’t there an uproar over Brit Tom Holland playing all-American hero Spider-Man, whose friendly neighborhood is Queens, New York? Are there no actors from Queens available?
These woke fools bitching about Bardem’s Spanish ancestry also rarely care when British actors of color, like Daniel Kaluuya, play African-Americans, like he did in ‘Get Out’ and ‘Judas and the Black Messiah.’
The truth is, American actors of all colors and ethnicities miss out when British, Irish, Canadian, and Australian actors play American roles. This injustice must be stopped!
Obviously, I’m joking. When casting, focusing on the specificity of an actor’s national background rather than their talent and skill is irrational and imbecilic and runs completely counter to the art and craft of acting.
As the ever-eloquent Bardem astutely pointed out in a Hollywood Reporter article:
“I’m an actor, and that’s what I do for a living: try to be people that I’m not. What do we do with Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone? What do we do with Margaret Thatcher played by Meryl Streep? Daniel Day-Lewis playing Lincoln?… if we want to open that can of worms, let’s open it for everyone … we should all start not allowing anybody to play Hamlet unless they were born in Denmark.”
Bardem is a great actor, as evidenced by his Best Actor Oscar nominated performance as – ironically enough – gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel’s ‘As Night Falls.’
His being attacked for his improper ethnic or national background is, unfortunately, something that is becoming commonplace in Hollywood when it comes to casting Latino roles.
For example, ‘In the Heights’ shamelessly marketed itself as a celebration of diversity as its Asian director (Jon Chu), Latino writer (Lin Manuel-Miranda) and mostly Latino cast told the story of a Latino neighborhood in New York City. But the movie came under fire from the woke brigade for its lack of “Afro-Latinx” representation.
Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ was sold as the righting of a historical wrong as – unlike the 1961 original movie – it cast only Latinos in Latino roles. Some still complained though that the lead role, Maria, was played by a woman of Colombian descent instead of a Puerto Rican.
The funny thing about this ‘Being the Ricardos’ casting controversy is that Javier Bardem and Nicole Kidman, despite not being Cuban or American respectively, and despite the vacuous script and dreadful direction guiding them, are the two best things in this awful movie.
The lesson that needs to be learned from all of this is that, within reason, we just need to let actors actually, you know, act … and we should leave the social justice preening for the college campus and the New York Times. Hollywood, its movies, its audiences, and the art of acting, would be much better served if we did.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
© 2021, paradox. All rights reserved.