I finished watching Suicide Squad again. And by “watching,” I mean I mostly just fast-forwarded to all ten minutes of the Joker’s screen time (four more than in the theatrical release!) because I’m one of those weirdos who didn’t hate Leto’s performance. But I did stop to watch that amazing battle scene where Deadshot gets up on a car and just starts blasting fools in the fucking face, because I love that. Somewhere in that scene, Captain Boomerang is…I don’t know…killing something? Making out with a stuffed unicorn? Who can keep track? The actor is a black hole of charisma, dragging scenes down simply by being in them. Every time the camera cut to him, I wondered, What’s the deal with Jai Courtney? Why is he a thing?
And because I’m a knowledge junkie, I Googled my question. Turns out, I’m one of hundreds who have asked that same question. More than that, are the millions who have simply stated, Please stop trying to make Jai Courtney a thing. This led me to reading a lot of great articles about Hollywood’s stagnating system, and terror of casting anyone but white guys to lead *most* action films.
Here’s the issue for me; Mr. Courtney is fine. He’s not hilariously awful (like Nicholas Cage) nor is he engaging and charming (like Bruce Willis). He’s simply a bland, mediocre white dude that seems to get a lot of unjustified top/near top billing. Like Sam Worthington. You know, for a long time, I thought Jai Courtney was Sam Worthington. Turns out I’m not alone in that, either. It’s hard to tell them apart, ot because they look a lot alike, but because neither of them has any screen presence.
Digressing for a moment, I felt the same about Charlie Hunnam in Pacific Rim. Don’t yell at me about Sons of Anarchy, I’ve never seen it, so I have no idea. But in Pacific Rim, I don’t even remember the hero’s name and it literally doesn’t matter. What’s annoying about this–and by extension, annoying about Courtney and Worthington–is that Hunnam got to snooze through his top billed role, while people like Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba KILLED IT, giving compelling, emotional performances–performances a movie about murder-bots didn’t actually deserve. And still they had to take a backseat to Hunnam, whose character would have been the same if they’d cast a loaf of Hillbilly Bread as the lead instead.
Again, he wasn’t awful. He was simply bland on top of already being written as a one-dimensional character. That’s where it really get’s frustrating. I have no problem with white dudes. I married one. I like them just fine. What I have a problem with, is that movies keep trying to make these nondescript, personality-free white guys happen, giving them chance after chance to fail spectacularly, while simultaneously giving minorities one shot (if any) and then blaming their ethnicity and/or gender on why the movie didn’t work. And even if it did work, they’d consider it a fluke and wouldn’t want to risk repeating it, anyhow.
Back to Jai. I don’t hate him. I’m irritated by what he represents. By the fact that I know his name, when he’s never done anything particularly noteworthy, from a film standpoint. I know his name because of privilege. He gets to make mediocre movies while executives try to convince us he’s the next big thing, because he’s conventionally handsome and white. But privilege is a double edged sword. For the Jai Courtneys of the world, they will be given lots of chances to fail. To be mediocre. But, at the same time, the roles they’ll be offered will be one-dimensional placeholders for the white men in the audience. Which sucks for guys like him, who dream of being seen as more than that. Minorities sometimes have better chances to get cast in meatier, more meaningful small roles, but they’ll have to work a lot harder for a lot less money and recognition. And that is why privilege sucks for everyone.
Jai Courtney isn’t a thing and I’m pretty sure he never will be. But he’s also not THE thing. The thing is Hollywood and it’s refusal to back down from this idea that only white men carry most films. And it’s an old and tired thing.
I put way too much thought into a blog post that arose from watching Suicide Squad, didn’t I? Yep. I did. Well, I’ll have you know, I had a whole, long spiel in this about Channing Tatum, but I appear to be one of only ten people on the planet who find him both mediocre and unattractive, so I spared you my rant about that.
Eh, you know what? Fuck it. White House Down sucked. There I said it. And Channing Tatum is only one step above Jai Courtney. Two steps if I’m feeling generous…and I’m not.
Much MUCH better.