A Lot Of “King Richard” Critics Are Missing The Point — Here’s Why
·9 min read
On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed King Richard. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!
So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed’s Ada Enechi about the new movie King Richard and Black representation onscreen. Here's some of what we learned:
BuzzFeed Daily: You recently wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about the new film King Richard and how important it is to have this kind of Black representation onscreen. What was it about King Richard that was so effective for you?
BuzzFeed Daily: How would you say that King Richard differs from other recent stories about Black families or Black communities? I mean, in the past few years, Hollywood has made an effort to tell stories about underrepresented communities. Obviously, they can always be doing more. So how would you say that this one falls?
AE: I would say it's a lot better than the rest that I've seen. Yes, Hollywood is trying to shake [things] up and make sure there are more Black stories, but are they making sure that those Black stories are being told for Black people, or are they making sure they're being told for white audiences? And we tend to see a big explanation, like if somebody is using a phrase and then all of a sudden there'll be a weird explanation for somebody else to understand, but with King Richard, it was more like, whether you get it or you don't, they know who they're talking to, and it was clear that it was made for a Black audience.
BuzzFeed Daily: The Williams sisters themselves are cultural icons and a huge part of this movie. It's their family story, but they're also working behind the scenes. So as a Black woman, what was your relationship to Venus and Serena before you saw the film? And did seeing the film change that relationship in any way?
BuzzFeed Daily: I saw a lot of people online criticizing the film after the first reviews of the movie had come out, specifically the fact that it wasn't more focused on Venus and Serena. And obviously, the movie is called King Richard, so it's going to be about their dad. But a lot of people were like, "I can't believe that they made a movie about the man and not the daughters" and all of this stuff. But then a lot of other people were saying, "No, it's really important to highlight Black fathers." And had he not been there, that would have been a criticism. And especially because Venus and Serena were behind the scenes and had a lot of say in how the film was made, do you have any thoughts on that or that particular criticism?
AE: I think I understand where people are coming from, especially in today's age, but I think they didn't get the point of it being around him. I think you can't tell that story without him, — he changed the game. He changed the tennis format. So you can't just do two lines about how they were just training and training and training. He is the most important in the early phases, and the whole film leads up to Venus's first professional match.
I think, with other sports films, if it ended with where she was right now, then he wouldn't have had so much of a role. But she was 14 when the film ended. So what, people are expecting that they were just running around [on their own]? No, their parents are taking them to the matches, they're training them, they're teaching them. They are the most important in the household. And also it was a tight-knit family, and it was a very close family, physically, with the small space that they had, and also just the family dynamic. So I thought the criticism was quite harsh. And also yet again, why would you go to a film that's called King Richard and then be surprised that Richard is the main character?
BuzzFeed Daily: You got to interview the cast of the movie in preparation for this piece, and something that Will Smith said about portraying Richard Williams stuck out to me. He said: "He wasn't like the image we have, the overbearing parent that's pushing his children." How do you feel like the film ultimately portrayed him?
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