One of the producers of Will Smith‘s new film about a runaway slave apologizes for bringing a photo of the character’s real-life inspiration to the film’s premiere.
Joey McFarland issued a mea culpa on Sunday — after apparently outraging him for bringing a wallet-sized photo to the LA premiere of “Emancipation” Wednesday … which he flashed to a reporter on the red carpet while talking about it.
McFarland was asked how he came into possession of the 1863 OG photo of “Whipped Peter”… and then he brought it out and showed it. His answer boiled down to recognizing the importance of history and wanting to curate valuable artifacts like these so they can live and be preserved — and so that we can all learn a valuable lesson from the past.
At first glance, there seems to be nothing wrong with JMF’s statement. But of course some objected to his wording — like saying he wanted there to be a “piece of Peter” that night — and the optics of a white man owning this photo and parading around like a prop.
That’s how a handful of people have interpreted his interview here anyway… and it seems McFarland got wind of it that sound and felt compelled to explain herself.
He writes: “I sincerely apologize to anyone I have offended by bringing a picture of Peter to Emancipation premiere. My intention was to honor this remarkable man and remind the general public that his image not only brought about change in 1863, but still resonates and promotes change.”
McFarland added, “Having discovered Peter’s origin story with the help of diligent historians, I have spent the last few years working with Emancipation’s creative time to bring his story to life so that a global audience would have the opportunity to witness his heroism. I hope my actions don’t distract from the film’s message.” He says he just wants to honor Peter’s legacy and others like him, and meant no harm in showing off the photo.
Will hasn’t addressed the controversy yet… but we know he’s in full campaign mode.