France just keeps building on its reputation of hypocritical racial intolerance. Right on the heels of the controversy surrounding the Miss Black France pageant in Paris, news has come out that Steve Harvey’s highly successful film “Think Like a Man” has been banned in the country because of the lack of diversity in its cast. Global Voices exposed the issue rather pointedly, writing:

“Surprising as it may be, the answer lies in the fact that the film has an all-black cast. French cinema is often pointed at for not fairly displaying all components of the country’s multiethnic population. Although the recent success of the movie Les Intouchables, which earned French African actor Omar Sy the Cesar award for Best Actor in 2012, caused great pride and hope among French nationals from Africa and the Caribbean, it was not to be the turning point for a deep and lasting change.”

Much like the argument that the Miss Black France pageant was exclusionary in its celebration of black beauty, a note from the Facebook page of “Negro News” reposted on Martinican blog People Bo Kay, suggests that same thinking is at play with the ban on Harvey’s film.

“The French state has had a sociopolitical strategy which favors interracial relationships rather than valuing communities,” the post reads. “In the comedy ‘Think like a Man’, the focus is on black couples.”

Interesting that Gabrielle Union’s on-screen romance with Jerry Ferrara didn’t meet the country’s unspoken interracial quota. It seems the goal is to flip the script on the black community’s cries of disenfranchisement by arguing that all-black efforts do the same thing, without any regard for why such all-black projects exist. Steve Harvey isn’t the only black contemporary film that’s been banned either. The note also adds:

“Black actor and producer Tyler Perry’s movies are never scheduled in any French movie theaters or are only released in DVDs, even though he has been used to leading the US box-office, as with ‘Why did I get Married’ and ‘For Colored Girls’. The French society acts hypocritically, when it refuses to show movies from black producers who earn millions from conveying a positive message to the African diaspora through their films.”

Other bloggers suggest that beyond the racist undertone of the ban, the French people don’t believe that a movie with an all-black cast could actually lead the box office. That sounds awfully similar to expectations here in the U.S. before the film knocked The Hunger Games out of its four-week run at the #1 spot and brought in double the revenue that was expected. If the success of Tyler Perry’s movies hasn’t sparked a change in France’s thinking, it’s not likely “Think Like a Man” will either. Unfortunately, it seems films like Les Intouchables will continue to be outliers as long as the country keeps pushing for a more nationalist approach to country unity without acknowledging that all French people aren’t allotted the same freedom of expression.

95 Comments

  1. Ladyt

    hmmm……the media like to portray france as the open minded country that is light years ahead of everyone else as far as race relations. I wonder if the charges of DSK reopening has anything to do with it? The jews are very angry with the blacks right now.

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  2. This does not make any sense to me. I am scratching my head.

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  3. lol wow france.back in the 20’s and and up to the late 60’s,y’all loved you some black folks.NOW,your acting like america and trying to keep EVERYTHING white.how many movies come out with an ALL white cast?? lol how hypocritical can you get?? i wonder if this applies for EVERY race or just blacks.

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  4. Noémie

    I feel ashamed.. I was looking forward to watching that movie. If you only knew how hard it is to see an “African American” movie in Paris, you would think it’s a joke.. :-(

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  5. Catherine

    I am French and my country really makes me feel ashamed sometimes!! That is ridiculous. But honestly, I am not surprised the movie didn’t come out here, but I don’t think it is for the reason mentionned in this article. I think you got it twisted there.
    We have a lot of Francophone African movies scheduled here, and tons of other foreign movies, a lot of independent ones too, where the cast is clearly not multiethnic.
    I think the reason why that movie, like most of Tyler Perry’s movies are not released here is that average French people don’t know much about the African-American community and culture, and couldn’t really relate to these movies. I honestly don’t think racism is behind all this.
    I got my Masters’ degree in African-American Studies here in Paris and I lived in the US for a while so I can relate to all these movies and I am pissed when then don’t come out here but I’m telling you, it is really not common here. Very few people can relate to my interests, references, readings and movies. That’s what I think. Whenever I go to the States I noticed how terrible France is depicted in the media. Don’t believe everything they say :-) As a counter-example, Spike Lee is very popular here and his movies always come out.

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    • rhirhi-hater

      then i feel like that should apply to all american movies shown in France that aren’t about superheros/zombies/fantasy/etc. but thats not the case. so they are basically saying they can relate to white america and their movies but not black/hispanic/minority american cinema and thats just a BS excuse to be close-minded and ignorant

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    • but what i don’t understand is why they would go out of their way to ban it. why not just let the market decide what the audience feels it can and cannot relate to? of course, if that’s the real reason for its ban.

      i don’t necessarily view this as a movie about african american culture either. it’s more like black people who are playing in these roles – it’s a movie more about gender themes.

      i also find it bizarre that the french censors think no one will “relate” to a so-called african american film since african american artists have historically sought refuge in france from american racism that prohibited or didn’t appreciate their artistic/culture expression.

      people are cray.

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    • Excellent point, shame to the author of the article for making the reader believe one thing when it really is more detailed than that. The title of the article is what drew me in, but honest and well rounded responses like yours make me understand the entire picture now.

      Thank You :)

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