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‘Elvis’ Producers Criticized For Casting Austin Butler In Role Of Iconic Black Singer

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LOS ANGELES—As awards season arrives and critics take note of the film’s problematic whitewashed casting, the Golden Globe–nominated Elvis faced increased scrutiny this week for casting Austin Butler in the role of the iconic Black singer. “Using a white actor to portray a world-renowned African American who single-handedly revolutionized pop music is regrettable, to say the least,” critic Ibrahim Lawrence wrote in the Los Angeles Times, suggesting that actors of color had little hope of succeeding in today’s film industry if producers couldn’t even bring themselves to give a Black man the starring role in a musical biopic about Elvis Presley. “And it’s so unnecessary. Why not cast Jonathan Majors? LaKeith Stanfield? Even Michael Ealy could’ve knocked it out of the park, but once again, Hollywood has chosen to engage in historical erasure to fit a white-centric ideal, in this case an Elvis who would be palatable to a larger demographic. Hearing classics like ‘Baby Let’s Play House,’ ‘Hound Dog,’ and ‘In The Ghetto’ coming out of a white man’s lips is nothing short of jarring.” Though his decision to take the part has been condemned in most quarters, many critics have nonetheless praised Butler for his refusal to wear blackface in his depiction of Presley.