Word is traveling around the internet that France has banned the hit American movie ‘Think Like a Man’ because the flick has an (almost) all-black cast. ‘Think Like a Man’ is based on a book written by comedian Steve Harvey. The movie follows the relationship struggles of four couples; when the men find out that their significant others are following the advice in Harvey’s book they decide to turn the tables on their female companions and give the ladies a taste of their own medicine.
One writer has even said that by banning the movie France is “building on its reputation of hypocritical racial intolerance”.
It turns out the movie hadn’t been banned. According to a source at Sony, the distributor of the film, ‘Think Like a Man’ had never been slated to be released in France in the first place.
The truth has come out, but larger issues remain to be discussed. First of all, it may not be that surprising that a film like Harvey’s wasn’t initially planned for release in a country like France. The nation has sought to maintain what has been described as a ‘color-blind‘ model on issues of social policy. French policy forbids the collection of census data which distinguishes citizens according to their race or religion, although it is widely known that there are millions of people of non-European ancestry and Muslims residing within the country. Afro-French blogger BoKay writes (translated from French), “It should be remembered that there is in the French state, a sociopolitical strategy that tends to advocate miscegenation rather than recovery of communities.” In other words, France believes in integration of minority communities into the larger French community rather than allowing non-French ethnolinguistic groups to become a ‘nation within a nation’.
One could easily look at the French policy and say that they need to ‘get with the program’ and encourage movies with all-black cast’s to be made, but this argument is ignoring some important issues. Namely, that ‘Think Like a Man’ is an English language, non-action movie. It’s one thing to show an action movie all over the world because who cares about the subtitles when you really came to see ships and buildings get blown up? Comedy can also be lost in translation, a joke that may be laugh-out-loud funny in one culture may barely cause a raised eyebrow in a community an ocean away.
France isn’t the only nation that attempts to protect its culture from outside influences. China only allows 20 foreign-made films to be distributed each year. In India movies that contain kissing are banned. Richard Gere was run out of India for kissing a costar as a publicity stunt.
Other nations have the right to preserve, protect and promote their culture within their own borders, and that may mean that certain films don’t get as much publicity as minority communities would hope. But as the saying goes, when it Rome do as the Romans do. If you don’t like Roman culture you can always go home.