This Italian '12 Years A Slave' Poster Worships At The Altar Of Brad Pitt, Is Entirely Problematic

As a liberal arts school graduate, sometimes I think the word "problematic" should be taken out of circulation due to sheer overuse. Then I see things like these Italian posters for 12 Years A Slave and I think "Eh, it can stay."

The two posters that have been circulating so far feature giant, almost god-like images of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, just like hanging in the sky over the plantation south. Chiwetel Ejiorfor is a tiny figure below them running for his freedom. You can see the Pitt one above, the other on here.

In most films this wouldn't cause even a blinking of the eyes — but that's because most films genuinely star the white people. The problem here is that this is definitely far more Chiwetel Ejiofor's film than any of the other actors, and Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt? They may be the bigger names, and therefore it makes sense for the knee-jerk reaction of whatever Italian marketing firm is in charge of this to want to put them in the forefront, but Fassbender plays a personification of human evil in this film as a sadistic rapist plantation master. And Brad Pitt's in the movie for a grand total of about 15 minutes. So marketing — and possible lost-in-translation American historical context aside — this is rather troubling.

This isn't a new problem to 12 Years A Slave, either: Benedict Cumberbatch's role in the film also has a small but notable history of being played up above Ejiofor's. It's extremely, yes, problematic that it's the white actors who routinely garner the brightest spotlight, even when the film in question is unquestionably focused around a person of color. In fact, multiple people of color. All of whom are in heavy contention for Oscar nominations.


Image: Twitter