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Updated on Jul 10, 2020. Posted on Jul 5, 2020

Shia LaBeouf's New Movie Is Being Called Out For "Brownfacing" And Now The Director Has Responded

"Sigh. Hollywood, come on. We don’t need this right now."

On Friday, the trailer for Shia LaBeouf's new movie, The Tax Collector, was released.

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The film follows two tax collectors (played by Shia and Bobby Soto) who work for a crime lord named Wizard. It also costars George Lopez and Cinthya Carmona.

Immediately after the trailer was released, the film received backlash from many who believe it features "brownfacing," and others who called out Shia's use of a "cholo" accent.

Cross Creek Pictures

By definition, a "cholo" is a man or boy of Mexican descent. The term originated as a derogatory term for people of mixed-blood heritage and is usually associated with young Latino males who are members of street gangs.

For those who aren't familiar, brownfacing — as with blackface — happens when Black and brown people are portrayed in media by someone who isn't a person of color. This is usually done by darkening a non-Black or brown actor's skin tone.

Shia LaBeouf smokes a cigarette as Creeper in "The Tax Collector"
Cross Creek Pictures

"Brownfacing, 2020 style," one Twitter user wrote, responding to a press release image of Shia's character, Creeper.

#brownfacing 2020 style https://t.co/WL98fxP5iP

The same user called out director David Ayer specifically, and described Shia's character as a "weird movie cholo," in addition to partaking in 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 https://t.co/wD6DOC1vUr

This user tweeted, "Oh hey, another movie with Latinos and Blacks in glorified gang culture on steroids that reinforces stereotypes [and] fears for white folks [and] promotes the cop mentality that 'it’s a battlefield out there.'"

Oh hey, another movie w/ Latinos and Blacks in glorified gang culture on steroids that reinforces stereotypes & fears for white folks & promotes the cop mentality that “it’s a battlefield out there.” Sigh.....Hollywood, come on. We don’t need this right now. https://t.co/NDk83cql0c

David then took to Twitter to address the backlash directly, including a tweet from someone who asked why he didn't cast a Latino lead instead.

John Phillips / Getty Images

He wrote, "Shia is playing a white boy who grew up in the hood. This is a Jewish dude playing a white character. Also, the only white dude in the movie."

Really important answer - 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 💁‍♂️ https://t.co/PS6foJwQXV

He went on to say that he was a "white boy" who "grew up in [the] hood" and tweeted that "Chicano culture is inclusive."

I grew up hood and I’m a whiteboy. Chicano culture is inclusive - I’ve seen whiteys, Asians, Blacks, Filipinos all putting in work for the hood. It’s part of street culture. https://t.co/PS6foJwQXV

"I’ve seen whiteys, Asians, Blacks, [and] Filipinos all putting in work for the hood. It’s part of street culture," he added.

David later responded to the person who called The Tax Collector a "cop movie," and denounced criticisms that Shia is doing brownface. "It ain’t a cop movie. And Shia is playing something very specific. Not brown face," he wrote.

You just told them. It ain’t a cop movie. And Shia is playing something very specific. Not brown face. https://t.co/MZMugrPu9r

Shia LaBeouf has yet to respond, but we will update you if he does.

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