There’s a movie about Flint coming out and it won’t have a black lead

Flint, a city that’s 53% black suffering from a clean-water crisis that has yet to be solved, will have a Lifetime movie made about it starring a non-black actress with a tertiary-at-best connection to Michigan.

Cher, whom you might know from “Burlesque,” is attached to produce and star in a movie – simply titled “Flint” – for Lifetime, which brought us such gems as “Fifteen and Pregnant” and the Aaliyah biopic. Deadline Hollywood broke the news last night while thousands of residents continued to drink, bathe and wash with lead-tainted water.

"Flint" is tackling a subject that is very personal for Cher. She has been active in raising awareness about the water crisis. She’s been vocal on social media and has donated hundreds of thousands of bottles of water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan for distribution to residents. I hear it was Cher who, after reading an announcement about the movie, reached out to the producers, expressing her interest in participating in the project. With Cher on board, the script was written with a plum role for her. Mark Nicholson, who runs Storyline Entertainment, developed the script by Stepansky and will serve as a producer on the movie.

While we won’t knock Cher’s activism (she actually should be lauded for this, as well as other causes she’s rallied for), let’s not act like a television movie about a still-in-progress disaster which will have lasting effects well into the next 50 years, at least, is going to improve the situation. Sure, it may raise “awareness” – and there’s nothing a certain passionate-yet-immobile population (read: liberal white people ages 25-35) loves more than “raising awareness.” Maybe Flint will get some more bottled water donations. Even still, it’s far too soon for a movie – whether it airs on Lifetime or airs in theaters as Oscar bait.

A lesser, but still worthy-of-discussion, issue is Cher as the star. Amidst all the talk of diversity in television and film, whitewashing ethnic characters and hell, as Viola Davis said in her Emmy speech, just giving actors of color a chance, there wasn’t a single black actor or actress available to lead this film? Cher couldn’t have put her production muscle behind the project and let someone else shine on screen?


Maybe we’re just judging too early, but consider us skeptical of this movie’s impact, if it’ll have any. No word on when the premiere date is.

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