Steven Soderbergh’s ‘The Laundromat’ sparks blackface controversy

“The Laundromat” starring Merryl Streep, Gary Oldman, and Antonio Banderas is drawing flack for depicting something that detractors are arguing as “blackface”.

In the Steven Soderbergh-helmed Netflix film, Streep takes on the role of an American widow. Following her husband’s death, she investigates his questionable financial arrangements. The Independent reports that Streep then takes on a secondary role besides the aforementioned one. She is seen midway through the film in a light tan, prosthetic nose, hip padding, and a vague Latin accent. To top it all off, the three-time Oscar-winner sported a thick black wig.

While this is nothing out of the ordinary as the premise of the film plays out with a playful theme, the comedic scene left a sour note on some who have viewed it. The particular sequence is called out by critics and average viewers alike.

Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair described it as “bizarre and rather galling unforced error, especially in an era of heightened consciousness about representation and appropriation.”

Film reporter Rafael Motamayor took to Twitter and pointed out that Streep’s second role was “incredibly weird.” Motamayor also criticized the Toronto International Film Festival audience for failing to bring up the character during the film’s post-screening Q&A.

“Great to see every single question at the Q&A be about how great Meryl Streep is as a person (she is), yet nothing on her playing a Latina character including a nose prosthetic,” the journalist wrote.

Streep and Soderbergh have yet to release their statements addressing the blackface accusations.

Samantha Rigby
Samantha Rigby
Samantha is the head of content, lifestyle and entrepreneurial columnist for Best in Australia. She is also a contributor to Forbes and SH. Prior to joining the Best in Au, she was a reporter and business journalist for local newspapers.
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