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Joel E. Siegel, you are a bit ignorant. In your review of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Besieged (“Auteurs in Autumn,” 6/11), you clumsily relate that Thandie Newton is miscast as an African refugee due to her “fair coloring and Caucasian features.” That inane statement is presumably proved by your mention of the actor’s mixed lineage. Are you aware that many Africans as well as African-Americans have light skin (hence the term “light-skinned”) and that not all African peoples have thick noses and bulbous lips? Considering your obvious wisdom of cultural cranio-facial characteristics, perhaps you could enlighten me and cite which features of Ms. Newton’s are definitively Caucasian?
You admonish the film’s representation of a generic African country, which you perceive as an offense, implying the inchoate belief that all African vistas look and are alike. Yet you displayed the most egregious assumption by implying that Ms. Newton is not plausible as a “refugee from a remote African village” simply because she’s just too pretty. You sit there, self-satisfied by your tepid liberalism and nauseating PC jargon, and have the audacity to point an imbecilic finger at Bertolucci for not picking an actor who is African-looking enough for you! Please, please, stick to what you know, Mr. Siegel and realize that you’ve got a few latent issues to mull over. I’m sure my criticism comes as a surprise to you; frankly that incenses me the most.
A light-skinned black woman with modest lips, a smallish pug nose, almond eyes, and curly hair born of two black parents,