3.07.2012

Gothic Sisters: Rochelle

First of all, let me begin with my raw admiration and love for actress Rachel True.  The fail of that was her character "Rochelle" in The Craft (1996) was not her fault.  The casting agents did their job when they brought her on board.  The writers, however, just didn't know what to do with her.

Here's the thing.  The character of Rochelle was originally written for a white actress.  Rachel, who often takes over such roles, was ecstatic when she knew for sure "Rochelle" was hers.  She said she noticed how no one else would read for the character (a dead giveaway) and so she kept going back to read for it until it was hers.

This type of recasting isn't always a good thing.  It often means the writers have to do some last-minute rewriting, which the audience often picks on.  While it worked for Naomie Harris in Ninja Assassin (2009), in Rachel's case, it was both a blessing and a curse.  Rochelle is mainly ignored throughout the film like a fourth wheel on a tricycle, with few lines (none of them good) and even fewer closeups. It was like the only reason she was there at all was to help call the corners.

And when writing all the different problems the young witches were dealing with in their personal lives, the only storyline the writers could come up with for Rochelle was that she was being bullied by a racist blonde bitch.  And then, in the clumsiest example of characterization, the writers make Rochelle go from being bullied, to getting revenge through magic...to becoming a "villain" and being punished.  Huh?

If you're going to make a message about racism to really speak to people of color, you can't have your cake and eat it too.  If the story begins with bullying, then it ends with revenge - period.  And if white people come across looking bad in the story, um...tough.

Now, on the other hand, Rachel True has talked about how Black and Brown girls keep coming up to her and thanking her for representing them in a Gothic/horror film.  I myself thought she was the prettiest girl in the film (see below) and as a teenager, I was more than happy to see a brown-skinned woman dabbling in the arts and listening to rock.  The Craft was my favorite film back then.  Sometimes I think that's one of the reasons why Rachel did the movie; someone always has to take one for the team.

And we'll always have their back.















10 comments:

  1. "Now, on the other hand, Rachel True has talked about how Black and Brown girls keep coming up to her and thanking her for representing them in a Gothic/horror film."

    Word. Like you that was something that resonated with me as a black boy who loved rock music and was into fantasy/sci-fi/horror.

    "If you're going to make a message about racism to really speak to people of color, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If the story begins with bullying, then it ends with revenge - period. And if white people come across looking bad in the story, um...tough."

    But don't you know, POCs are never supposed to be angry or mad. We're supposed "rise above." Light as a feather, stiff as a board even.

    Speaking of things that make me stiff as a board, I'm gonna return to the previous post and oogle Rutina Wesley's husband.

    Excuse me.

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  2. Light as a feather, stiff as a board even.

    ...you didn't.

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  3. Yeah, the whole movie is full of fail regarding how the witches' rightful desire for power and revenge is treated. And then new witch bitch only uses magic to win a guy then suddenly becomes the chosen one and puts all the other girls, including Rochelle, in their place. And threatens them with the example of making one of them go crazy. Very negative and appropriative in regards to dis/ability issues.

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    1. Not to mention, it basically sends the message that if you get treated like shit by your society, you need to just roll over and take it.

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  4. I wanted to love The Craft. I really wanted to love it...but the fail was just such a fail...

    Rochelle was the best part of the movie.

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  5. She is the main reason why I watched it. I was glad to see someone of my race who was interested in that music too.

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  6. I was glad to see her cast in this non stereotypical role. Black people are not at all a monolithic group. what? i can't get my master of puppets or ok computer or nevermind on? I find that hollywood tends to cast black women in the same role over and over because that's the image they are most comfortable with. if they start to think of us in a different way, we become sex symbols and of course this cannot be allowed lol.

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    1. She was 29 when she played this character; older than all her castmates.

      Yet look at how much younger she appears than they do. I would've never guessed she was the oldest; in fact, I was certain either Fairuza Balk or Robin Tunney was the oldest.

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    2. And yes, I am marveling here because I honestly thought she was like 19 or 20 when she filmed this.

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