Okay, so we don't need to issue an AMBER Alert or anything... But Faizon Love and Kali Hawk are missing from the U.K. version of posters for their recent movie, Couples Retreat. The film is a comedy about four couples who go on a group vacation in an island paradise where (naturally) hilarity ensues. Three of the four couples are comprised of white actors, with the fourth couple being Love and Hawk, who are African American. There's always one token black character in these buddy films, or maybe not? They didn't just remove their pictures from the poster, but their names as well. But then again, yeah—one kind of expects someone named "Faizon" to be black (although some might have thought he was perhaps the sibling of Jennifer Love Hewitt, right?).
Universal Pictures has apologized for any offense caused by the actors' removal, claiming that they just wanted "to simplify the poster to actors who are most recognizable in international markets." Mmkay, so did they "simplify" the film and remove the black actors altogether? Of course not! The black characters are integral to the plot as without a black man and his storied package, the nudity joke wouldn't be as funny. I wonder how many tickets were purchased by women hoping to get a look at Love's penis...Oh, and Hawk's role was pivotal too—as without her, there would have been no stereotypically loud and obnoxious attitude-having, neck-wiggling, eye-rolling black woman.
Personally, I find it curious that the characters were removed on the premise that the black actors were less recognizable than their white counterparts. I mean, Kristen Bell and Malin Ackerman are household names, after all. Right?
Universal has assured us that they will not use the altered posters in any other markets—great! But what does it say that in 2009, marketing executives feel that not only are black actors on an ensemble film poster distracting or less "simple" than a poster with only white actors—but that we are too stupid or clueless to notice it. And maybe, just maybe, it speaks to the fact that some people don't see the token black friend character as necessary or realistic.
Granted, this movie is not of one of my preferred genres, but honestly, if the black actors made the sophomoric and sub-par movie, don't they deserve to be credited with having done it?