High fantasy, especially that of the medieval persuasions, is a subgenre we don’t see much of, but when we do, we flock to the cinema. There’s just something so inciting about their blend of the ethereal and the rustic. In a sense, it creates a nostalgia for an era of storytelling before any of us.
So, I was more than elated when the announcement of The Green Knight
came from A24. Not only because it promised the usual beauty you get with their pictures, but also a gritty and contemporary twist on chivalric romance? I mean yes, 1000 times yes! While rolling in my excitement, I also noticed the choices made with the cast. There seemed to be some purposeful choice to have POC actors. I mean Gawain himself is played by the awesome Dev Patel
. But the realms and spaces brown people occupy are… kind of questionable. It isn’t a blink and you’d miss its scenario, but follows points on a checklist I'll dive into later. And personally, it opened a dialect about whether medieval fantasy has space for multi-ethnic portrayals. Would that lean into cultural appropriation? And even if it did, is that a bad thing? Check out the detailed "The Green Knight" review with cultural appropriation.
Medieval fantasy has historically never been a safe space for POCs. Whether it’s for adults, like Hard to Be a God
, or for children like Snow White,
more often than not, the most luck we have in seeing ourselves is a side character who will surely be dead or evil. Although I’m just as frustrated as other BIPOC fans of the genre, in this particular case I can at least see the cogs that led us here. Medieval stands out from other fantasy subgenres in how based in history it is. Sure, something like Legend