Tim Burton’s latest film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is based on the novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs about British children in a mysterious orphanage. Like all of Burton’s movies, it has very a white cast, with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a villain. When asked about the lack of diversity in Miss Peregrine’s and in his films in general, Burton gave this very peculiar explanation to Bustle:
Nowadays, people are talking about it more … things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct, like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black — I used to get more offended by that than just — I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, that’s great. I didn’t go like, OK, there should be more white people in these movies.
Burton is referencing “Kelly’s Kids,” the Brady Bunch episode where Ken and Kathy adopt three boys who happen to be white, black, and Asian-American. It was intended to launch a spinoff that didn’t go anywhere, but it did manage to be a rare Brady Bunch episode to address race in the first place. Why that so bothered Tim Burton isn’t really clear, though he disconcertingly seems to think that diversity isn’t necessary in “family” movies and TV shows — or possibly just in Tim Burton projects — which certainly doesn’t reflect the way the world really is.
Samuel L. Jackson, also interviewed by Bustle, noted that he had recognized the lack of diversity in Burton’s work, but wasn’t bothered by it. “I had to go back in my head and go, how many black characters have been in Tim Burton movies?” Jackson said. “And I may have been the first, I don’t know, or the most prominent in that particular way, but it happens the way it happens. I don’t think it’s any fault of his or his method of storytelling, it’s just how it’s played out. Tim’s a really great guy.” A really great guy who really wishes The Brady Bunch, one of the whitest things imaginable, was even more white.