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    A Lot Of “King Richard” Critics Are Missing The Point — Here’s Why

    “I’m not saying that everything he did was correct, but I could also just see my dad in him.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed King Richard. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Buzzfeed’s Ada Enechi about the new movie King Richard and Black representation onscreen. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: You recently wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about the new film King Richard and how important it is to have this kind of Black representation onscreen. What was it about King Richard that was so effective for you?

    Still from King Richard
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Ada Enechi: The nuances in the film were just so beautiful to me because I expected a sports film. It's a tennis film, and we've all seen a million sports films, up and down, all at the same time, and they kind of have the same formula. But I think there was such a strong focus on family that I haven't seen before. And there was a lot of focus on the Black family and the Black family dynamic that I think maybe some people just don't get offhand. But for me, I was like, "Oh, I get it. My dad's attitude is the exact same way."

    BuzzFeed Daily: How would you say that King Richard differs from other recent stories about Black families or Black communities? I mean, in the past few years, Hollywood has made an effort to tell stories about underrepresented communities. Obviously, they can always be doing more. So how would you say that this one falls?

    AE: I would say it's a lot better than the rest that I've seen. Yes, Hollywood is trying to shake [things] up and make sure there are more Black stories, but are they making sure that those Black stories are being told for Black people, or are they making sure they're being told for white audiences? And we tend to see a big explanation, like if somebody is using a phrase and then all of a sudden there'll be a weird explanation for somebody else to understand, but with King Richard, it was more like, whether you get it or you don't, they know who they're talking to, and it was clear that it was made for a Black audience.

    BuzzFeed Daily: The Williams sisters themselves are cultural icons and a huge part of this movie. It's their family story, but they're also working behind the scenes. So as a Black woman, what was your relationship to Venus and Serena before you saw the film? And did seeing the film change that relationship in any way?

    Photo of Serena and Venus Williams on the red carpet at the King Richard premiere
    Axelle / FilmMagic

    AE: As a Black woman, and as a Black child [with a sister] in the household around the '90s/early 2000s, I was pretty much put into the Serena Williams training camp. My dad was also like, "I'm about to build two Williams sisters" and being dragged to tennis training, and God knows what. And he just couldn't accept that we didn't have the skill. So I felt like I knew the sisters very well. And obviously, they've always been icons and you've always looked up to them and they're broken records and records and records. 

    This film...did definitely humanize them more. And the drive and the graft from a Black dad to their kids is something I can see and I can see how they were pushed into the women that they are today. And it also kind of just showed me that it's not impossible for all of us to do. It just depends. Obviously, you need skill, but if you've got it, there's a way to go about it. So. And I think it also just shaped my opinion on Richard a bit more because...I play tennis. I grew up reading about tennis and obviously other people have seen things that were written about him in the press. I just saw him as an overly strict Black dad that seemed to not want to let his daughters do anything. But now watching this film, you really see his perspective and you can understand his reasons why. And then you realize that, well, the media that was writing about full was white media, so they didn't understand his perspective. But it's the same story, again — you have to be twice as good to get anywhere, and all he was doing was trying to make sure his kids were twice as good, to even get a look in.

    BuzzFeed Daily: I saw a lot of people online criticizing the film after the first reviews of the movie had come out, specifically the fact that it wasn't more focused on Venus and Serena. And obviously, the movie is called King Richard, so it's going to be about their dad. But a lot of people were like, "I can't believe that they made a movie about the man and not the daughters" and all of this stuff. But then a lot of other people were saying, "No, it's really important to highlight Black fathers." And had he not been there, that would have been a criticism. And especially because Venus and Serena were behind the scenes and had a lot of say in how the film was made, do you have any thoughts on that or that particular criticism?

    AE: I think I understand where people are coming from, especially in today's age, but I think they didn't get the point of it being around him. I think you can't tell that story without him, — he changed the game. He changed the tennis format. So you can't just do two lines about how they were just training and training and training. He is the most important in the early phases, and the whole film leads up to Venus's first professional match. 

    I think, with other sports films, if it ended with where she was right now, then he wouldn't have had so much of a role. But she was 14 when the film ended. So what, people are expecting that they were just running around [on their own]? No, their parents are taking them to the matches, they're training them, they're teaching them. They are the most important in the household. And also it was a tight-knit family, and it was a very close family, physically, with the small space that they had, and also just the family dynamic. So I thought the criticism was quite harsh. And also yet again, why would you go to a film that's called King Richard and then be surprised that Richard is the main character?

    BuzzFeed Daily: You got to interview the cast of the movie in preparation for this piece, and something that Will Smith said about portraying Richard Williams stuck out to me. He said: "He wasn't like the image we have, the overbearing parent that's pushing his children." How do you feel like the film ultimately portrayed him?

    Photo of Venus and Serena Williams with their father Richard
    Michael Stephens - Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images

    AE: I think the film completely humanized Richard. I think if you're just growing up, watching this guy, and all you hear is that the Williams sisters want to play these competitions and their dad won't let them, then you just think, Oh, they've just got like a really strict dad that won't let them out of the house. There's always a method to the madness. And I think this was really good to see that. I think that now that we have more Black writers and Black journalists — if somebody had actually spoken to him, that could understand him, we may have got what we can see in this film today. 

    So, yeah, I think he was portrayed in a good light. I'm not saying that everything he did was correct, but I could also just see my dad in him. And also, I think sometimes we think every parent should be perfect. People are just learning as they go. So you can also see a man that is learning as he goes, and he sees that he has two exceptional kids and he's just trying to figure out how he can better them and make sure they become the best. And no one's saying he's perfect, but to be honest, I think, we can see he did a pretty good job, and I think it's also a testament that their relationship hasn't broken. 

    I think if it was honestly horrible for them, and they felt that they were being emotionally abused, then they wouldn't be speaking to him and they wouldn't make it about their dad, because we've other families where the dad was really abusive. We can look at the Jacksons. And that is something where you can say, point-blank, this is what was happening. This was an abusive father and the media made [Richard] seem almost the same level as Joe Jackson. That was like they really dogged him out. They really made him seem like this evil character. But now this film has made me think, No, his heart was always in the right place. He may not just have had the words to make sure it got there, but look at the result. Today, he has two girls that absolutely adore him.

    We also discussed a former America’s Next Top Model contestant's tweet revealing some surprising information about the compensation for being on the show.

    $40 a day, no residuals, and we had to pay for food. https://t.co/lnclnbj2GZ

    Twitter: @sarahhartshorne

    After another Twitter user posted that the contestants allegedly received $40 per episode, Sarah Hartshorne, who was on Season 9 of the show and is now a comedian, shared the tweet, confirming that it was indeed only $40, plus quote “no residuals, and we had to pay for food.”

    People quickly began to drag Tyra Banks, with one person tweeting: “If I was Tyra Banks I would live everyday in fear of the inevitable Netflix or HBO documentary of ANTM.”

    Plus, just one week after blaming millennials for The Last Duel’s poor box office performance, Ridley Scott is now complaining about the response to House of Gucci.

    Al Pacino as Aldo Gucci in House of Gucci
    MGM Studios

    The heirs of former Gucci chairman, Aldo Gucci, released a highly critical statement, saying: “Although the work claims to want to tell the 'true story' of the family, the fears raised by the trailers and interviews released so far, are confirmed: the film carries a narrative that is far from accurate.” They went on to say the film paints the Gucci family as “thugs,” and called it “an insult to the legacy on which the brand is built today.”

    Ridley, in turn, told Total Film he felt the heirs were quote “alarmingly insulting, saying that Al Pacino did not represent physically Aldo Gucci in any shape or form,” and that they should quote “be so fucking lucky” to have quote “probably the best actors in the world” portraying their family.

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.