Will Smith’s latest project Emancipation was under scrutiny for fair reasons. It is his first film since the Chris Rock slapgate row and quite a lot of people suspected that choosing a sensitive topic like slavery could possibly be Oscar ‘bait’ to redeem himself. However, he is not the only person involved in the film who is now facing the public’s ire. The producer of the film, Joey McFarland garnered quite a bit of backlash for bringing the original photo of the enslaved man, Gordon, whom the film is about. And the hate got so out of hand that McFarland had to issue a public apology.
Joey McFarland brought an original photo of ‘Whipped Peter’ during Emancipation premiere
Set in the American Civil War era, Emancipation is a film about Gordon, who came to be known as ‘Whipped Peter’ played by Will Smith, who tries to escape through the swamps of Louisiana to save his life from the plantation owner that nearly killed him.
While walking the red carpet for the film at the Regency Village Theatre, Joey McFarland, the producer was quite glad to display an original photo of ‘Whipped Peter’ that he had brought with him to the premiere. The picture itself was that of Gordon being fitted for the Union Army uniform. The scars visible on his back was a testament to how brutish slavery was.
McFarland told Variety while on the Red Carpet,
“I have the photo. This is the original photograph from 1863. I wanted it to be here tonight. I wanted a piece of Peter to be here tonight.
Sadly to say, so many artifacts and photographs have not been preserved or curated or respected. And I took it upon myself to curate and build a collection for future generations.”
Joey McFarland issues public apology after being schooled by Twitter
Twitter decided to school McFarland about the nuances of ‘owning’ slave memorabilia that ought to be public property for everyone to access.
Photographs of anti-Black violence is not a collector's item to show off. It is grossly inappropriate and Joey McFarland should donate the artifacts he "collected" to the National Museum of African American History and Culture before the end of his lifetime. https://t.co/zOXmd24NqG
— Bryant Odega 🎅🏾 (@BryantOdega) December 2, 2022
I don’t know, man, but bringing “a piece of Peter” that you “own” to the red carpet of a movie that’s personally enriching you so that you can collect more slave memorabilia that you’ll keep until your death… pic.twitter.com/ASuBeiCHQd
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) December 1, 2022
Based on @franklinleonard’s thread above, I went to IG. Imagine my disgust in finding that @JoeyMcFarland, #Emancipation producer, has branded his newly acquired photos of enslaved people as the #McFarlandCollection, & started posting right after @Emancipation wrapped filming. pic.twitter.com/agXBRsjjww
It’s not like we don’t have a national museum dedicated to collecting + preserving this sort of history on the public’s behalf…McFarland doesn’t have to keep a personal collection of these images until he dies and then denote them – we don’t need a middleman or caretaker here. https://t.co/2fwzJiCTA2
— Chris Ford 🌞 (@CT_Ford) December 1, 2022
The collective rage on social media had McFarland down on his knees, he took to Instagram to formally apologize and rest his case.
The beginning of his Instagram message read,
“I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone I have offended by bringing a photograph of Peter to the Emancipation premiere. My intent was to honor this remarkable man and to remind the general public that his image not only brought about change in 1863 but still resonates and promotes change today.”
The 50-year-old expressed that he was hopeful that this debacle did not distract the audiences from the film’s intended message, “Peter’s story and just how much impact he had on the world.”
Also Read: “Getting called the N-word 100 times a day by really good actors”: Will Smith Claims Filming Emancipation Was Really Tough as Actor Desperately Tries to Make Amends to Get Back into the Academy
He further wrote addressing the accusations of hoarding slave memorabilia, instead of donating them.
“Throughout the research and development of Emancipation, I discovered photographs of overlooked and historically important individuals whose stories also needed to be told. One photograph, of Martin Delaney, is on loan to the National Portrait Gallery and currently on exhibit.”
He continued in his message by claiming that his original goal was always to donate the artifacts and that is what he is going to do henceforth.
“My plan was always to donate the photographs to the appropriate institution, in consultation with the community, and I there is no better time to begin that process than now.”
It remains to be seen how well Twitterati shall accept this apology. Most of it would depend on how soon the producer starts the donation process.
Emancipation has been released in select theatres and will start streaming on Apple TV+ on December 9.
Also Read: “She could not get over the look of the film and how it felt”: Will Smith Claims Rihanna Loved His Movie ‘Emancipation’ Amidst Fan Backlash of ‘Oscar-Bait’ Slavery Movie to Win Back Academy Favors
Source: Daily Mail