There's Just One Hitch, Will Smith: Examining Title VII, Race, and Casting Discrimination on the Fortieth Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia

26 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2009

Date Written: April 15, 2009

Abstract

In this Symposium Essay, I use Loving v. Virginia as a backdrop for exploring why our society allows, without legal challenge, customer preference or discrimination to unduly influence casting decisions for actors paired in romantic couples in movies and television. In so doing, I examine how existing anti-discrimination law in employment can and should be used to address these improper influences within the entertainment industry. In Part I of the Essay, I first survey the growing practice of casting intraminority couples casting in films and television and examine how such casting, despite its appeal on the surface, may work to further entrench racial hierarchies in our society. In particular, I focus on how this new form of multicultural couples casting can reinforce the racial hierarchies that existed in the anti-miscegenation statutes that were struck down in Loving v. Virginia, statutes that were struck down because they promoted white supremacy by prohibiting interracial marriages between Whites and non-Whites but not prohibiting marriages with non-Whites of different races. In Part II, I detail statutory law, specifically Title VII, and case law regarding employment discrimination based on customers' preferences to investigate how and when, given the First Amendment, current law can be used to eliminate discrimination through casting in the entertainment industry. This Essay concludes by highlighting the need to and importance of challenging general societal practices that work to maintain racial boundaries of love and intimacy.

Keywords: marriage, realtionship, interracial, Title VII, discrimination, casting, First Amendment, film, casting, culture, race, racism, Loving

Suggested Citation

Onwuachi-Willig, Angela, There's Just One Hitch, Will Smith: Examining Title VII, Race, and Casting Discrimination on the Fortieth Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia (April 15, 2009). Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2007; U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1385435

Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
6415102368 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bu.edu/law/profile/angela-onwuachi-willig/

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