We all pretty much get what people mean when they call people of color “too street” or “hood” or “ghetto.” But apparently, English author Anthony Horowitz didn’t get the memo about referring to Idris Elba in such terms.
When the Ian Fleming estate-selected author of the upcoming James Bond novel “Trigger Mortis” (which will be published on September 8th) weighed in on who could be the next (and possibly first black) Bond, he said that fan favorite and acclaimed actor/Internet phenom Idris Elba wasn’t right for the part. Nothing controversial there, except for when he tried to defend it to the Daily Mail:
‘Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better.’
He names Adrian Lester, star of Hustle.
‘For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a colour issue. I think he is probably a bit too “street” for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.’
This inspired a pretty severe backlash, best encapsulated by Ta-Nehisi Coates’s remarks:
Horotitz half-apologized for the slight by saying that he was preoccupied with Elba’s portrayal of John Luther:
I’m really sorry my comments about Idris Elba have caused offence [full statement attached] pic.twitter.com/UD6ouA45Uv— Anthony Horowitz (@AnthonyHorowitz) September 1, 2015
Elba, for his part, had the calmest and most mic-drop-worthy response:
A photo posted by Idris Elba (@idriselba) on Sep 1, 2015 at 3:30pm PDT