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Is Tim Burton racist? ‘Wednesday’ casting controversy, explained

He's a great director but he needs to do better.

Image via Netflix

With classics like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, there’s no doubt that Tim Burton is a talented director with a bold artistic flair to his work. The director practically defined the childhoods of those who grew up in the ’90s and 2000s, however, even he isn’t immune to controversy, and watching his films back to back you may start to notice that they are incredibly Caucasian. 

When Samuel L. Jackson jokingly said that he was the only black person in a Tim Burton film, fans started to realize just how lacking Burton’s films are in the diversity department.

That all changed last year with the Netflix series, Wednesday. For the first time in his career, Burton broke his Caucasian streak and cast Jenna Ortega, a Latina actress, in the leading role. Even better is the fact that we have almost an entirely Latinx version of The Addams Family. In fact, Netflix’s Wednesday is probably one of Burton’s most diverse casts yet.

Whilst it’s a huge step forward for the director, there are still issues with his casting, some which are pretty unforgivable for fans of the show and the director. The show features plenty of black actors, but they’re all characterized as bullies. You have Bianca Barclay, played by Joy Sunday, who is the mean girl of the school and Wednesday’s rival for most of the series. 

Bianca’s mother Gabrielle is downright manipulative, then you have Lucas Walker, another bully as well as his father the mayor who turns a blind eye to crime and is inexplicably the owner of Pilgrim World. Like who thought that was a good idea?

So yeah, it’s great we have more diversity, and yeah, Bianca Barclay does have a character arc as the series goes on, but still, the comments about Burton’s racism have only continued when Wednesday should have been the series to put these concerns to bed. Coupled with Burton’s previous comments to Bustle regarding forced diversity, you can see why some people have come to this conclusion about the director.

Are the accusations true?

No one but the man himself can comment on his stance regarding racism, but we can say that perhaps Burton needs to take more time to consider how to best work a range of diverse characters into his stories. The fact is that his projects aren’t representative of his audience or the population in general anymore, as the world is a diverse place and so his comments on ‘forced diversity’ don’t really hold water. It would be more accurate to say that an all-white cast is forced un-diversity.

Jordan Collins
About the author

Jordan Collins

Jordan is a writer at WeGotThisCovered. He's been on the site for half a year and has been writing for a few years before that. Jordan has a Masters in Creative Writing and he loves telling that to anyone who will listen. Aside from that he often spends time getting lost in films, books and games. He particularly enjoys fantasy from The Legend of Zelda to The Lord of the Rings. His main reason for writing is so he can afford to feed his pet fish called Kevin.