David Ayer defends casting Shia LaBeouf in ‘The Tax Collector’ amid ‘brownfacing’ criticism

"This is a Jewish dude playing a white character"

Director David Ayer has denied that he is perpetrating ‘brownfacing’ by casting Shia LaBeouf in his upcoming film The Tax Collector.

The filmmaker was asked by someone on Twitter whether LaBeouf is portraying a Latin-American character in the film when he is white. Ayer responded to confirm that LaBeouf is playing a white character who is influenced by latinx culture.

“Really important answer,” Ayer wrote on Twitter. “Shia is playing a whiteboy who grew up in the hood. This is a Jewish dude playing a white character. Also the only white dude in the movie”.

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Despite this, Ayer was challenged by writer and Pulitzer prize-nominated cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz that he isn’t committing brownfacing. “Tell all the kids how you’re Hollywood’s top cholo auteur, and your pretzel reasons Shia Lebeouf is sort of kind of playing a weird movie cholo in a cop movie and how all of this isn’t really #brownfacing”.

Ayer hasn’t yet responded to Alcaraz.

The Suicide Squad (2016) and Fury (2014) director has been criticised in the past on other racial and cultural issues. His 2012 police thriller End of Watch, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, was lampooned by some critics for almost exclusively showing black and latinx criminals.

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The Tax Collector is released in the US on August 7, 2020.

The synopsis reads: “A ‘tax collector’ for a crime lord, who finds his family’s safety compromised when his boss’s old rival shows up in LA and upends his business.”

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