Yesterday, the Tumblr blog "Carefree Black Girl" surfaced an Italian poster for the critically acclaimed movie "12 Years a Slave."
The poster, which has since spread across the internet, prominently displays Brad Pitt's face breaking through a set of sunlit clouds as a small image of the actor Chiwetel Ejiofor runs across the bottom of the poster underneath.
Many on the internet are calling the poster racist for downplaying the role of Ejiofor, who plays protagonist Solomon Northup, and instead focusing on Pitt, who plays a day laborer who doesn't show up until midway through the film.
Pitt, who served as one of the movie's producers, is widely beloved by international audiences, and is seen as crucial to promoting "12 Years a Slave" to overseas audiences that are often uninterested in films that center on African Americans.
Carefree Black Girl said she lives in Italy and came across the poster on a trip to the movies.
"I’ve been following the press for months and I can’t wait to watch it but REALLY? I don’t remember Brad Pitt being the protagonist of the film or having such a pivotal role in the story to stay in the middle of the poster," she wrote. "I sure don’t know anything about marketing strategy to appeal audiences but isn’t this going to far?"
Buzzfeed confirmed that the poster is not an isolated Photoshop but an example of the actual promotional materials being used in Italian theaters.
Here's the American poster for the movie, which focuses on Ejiofor and does not include an image of Pitt.
People on Twitter have reacted with surprise and anger at this latest example of Italy's well-documented race issues and the way the media tries to avoid marketing stories about black people to white audiences.
Here's what some are saying:
WTF RT @NickdeSemlyen In case you missed it, this is apparently the Italian poster for 12 Years A Slave. pic.twitter.com/RvZyDIPD5O via @irin— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) December 23, 2013
Italian poster of 12 Years A Slave: "Starring BRAD PITT...and some black guy" https://t.co/4bQg3rIsCL #whitewashing #12YearsASlave— Harry C. Merritt (@HarryMerritt) December 23, 2013
The Italian poster for 12 Years A Slave…… Brad Pitt is in the movie for 4 min.Chiwetel Ejiofor is the main actor pic.twitter.com/cxiRgIZx9t— No Angel (@BriMonroeCarter) December 23, 2013
The film is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a New York-born free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841.
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