You’re not imagining it. That review by Sunday Times film critic Camilla Long isn’t just stupid, it’s racist [TWEETS]

Sunday Times film critic Camilla Long has been accused of racism for a review of the film Moonlight. The review is a masterclass in ignorance. A film which sets out to document the plight of LGBT black people, denounced by a white woman of privilege because it is too black and too gay. The irony of that strikes like a closed fist.

The review

In her review, Long writes:

The received wisdom on Moonlight, a film about gay love in the black ghetto, is that it is “necessary” and “important”. It is an “urgent” and “relevant” examination of forbidden attraction in a world, “the streets”, that is largely hostile to gay men.

Only, relevant to whom? Certainly not the audience. Most will be straight, white, middle class. Nor is it particularly “urgent”: the story has been told countless times, against countless backdrops.

This is in stark contrast to the Guardian’s veteran film critic Mark Kermode, who not only gave the film 5 stars, but wrote:

Lending heartfelt voice to characters who have previously been silenced or sidelined, Moonlight is an astonishingly accomplished work – rich, sensuous and tactile, by turns heartbreaking and uplifting. The first time I saw it I swooned; the second time I cried like a baby. I can’t wait to see it again.

I doubt that I will see a better film than Moonlight this year.

Read on...

So why was Camilla Long unable to connect with the film?

The reaction

Long couldn’t connect with Moonlight, because she couldn’t see herself reflected in the film. We know this because of her past form on reviews.

Long judged Moonlight over originality of plot. Let’s be honest, most would struggle to name another film charting the lived experience of poor, black, gay Americans. By comparison, it wouldn’t take much to rattle off a list of romantic musicals with white lead actors. Yet Long wrote a glowing review of caucasian sing-along La La Land. Some felt the need to make this point direct to Long.

Others wanted to take a moment to call out Long’s credentials.

And they didn’t stop there.

Repeat Offender

This isn’t the first time, and we doubt the last, that Long finds it impossible to understand a film which doesn’t map directly to her ethnic and class background. She described Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning film I, Daniel Blake as “a povvo safari for middle-class do-gooders”. Unable to believe anyone could find themselves living the impoverished existence of Daniel Blake and other characters in the film, Long wrote:

Katie (Hayley Squires) is a single mother from London whom Dan meets in the benefits office. She has mysteriously been relocated to Newcastle with her children. Even by the horrifying lows of the system, it seems astonishing that she has been sent this far. But we must believe that it happened — it’s real research! — just as we must believe Daniel wouldn’t at any point think to simply telephone his doctor or remotely entertain the idea of learning about computers. It constantly hectors the viewer. But it never feels quite genuine.

Long found the film so hard to believe because she had literally no idea that people live like this in Britain. But they do. A 2015 report by The Independent found that more than 50,000 families had been shipped out of London by local councils in the previous three years, due to benefit cuts and soaring rents. That’s 500 families a week. The report states that these families were moved “to locations including Manchester, Bradford, Hastings, Pembrokeshire, Dover and Plymouth.”

So, very real. In fact, endemic. But for Long, totally unbelievable and “cherry-picked”.

And now again, Camilla Long is wearing her ignorance in public like a badge of honour.

Long needs to treat this moment as a life lesson. She has a golden opportunity for a bit of earnest self-reflection, to spot how her privilege is manifesting as ignorance. But judging by her initial reaction to criticism, we wouldn’t advise you to get your hopes up.

Featured image via Twitter/IMDB


We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed