So this week I’ve been listening to the audio book “Mercury Rising” by Ryne Douglas Pearson. Originally published in 1996 as “Simple Simon,” the book was re-released in 1998 under the new name in conjunction with the movie starring Bruce Willis.
Therein lies the rub.
Now I like Bruce Willis as an actor in most of the movies I’ve seen him in. But I don’t understand why he was cast as the main character in this role.
You see, in the novel, Art Jefferson, the FBI agent who befriends and protects the autistic savant Simon, is African-American. He is strong, competent, happily married, sensitive; a man of high moral values and integrity.
So why wasn’t an African-American actor given the starring role (instead of Chi McBride added as the sidekick almost as an afterthought?)
What a missed opportunity. But then again, such a role would fly in the face of how the black male is portrayed in the media.
In the story, an autistic 9-year old boy somehow has the ability to break the government’s top secret computer code.
Unfortunately, the code of continued racism in Hollywood is a lot harder to crack.