Amazon Prime Series to Address Immigration … of Fantastic Creatures

Fiction – even science fiction and fantasy – has long been used as a means to tell contemporary, real-world stories in a fanciful setting. Case-in-point, Amazon Prime’s upcoming series, Carnival Row, is set in a world where mythical creatures have been forced out of their homes by war, and are left with no choice by to immigrate to a land dominated by humans. The creatures have become refugees in a city where they are not welcome, and they quickly become a scorned underclass.

Orlando Bloom, who stars as a human detective, discussed the immigration themes during a recent press tour. “It really looks at the fear that people have. I think there’s so much fear in the world today about immigrants, migrants, how are they going to come into our society.” Bloom noted that the show “… addresses a lot of what we are experiencing today, but with the added component of a fantasy period.”

Bloom’s love interest in Carnival Row is a faerie played by co-star Cara Delevingne. She noted that, intertwined within the fantasy elements of the series, “… it’s really talking about immigration and refugees and classism and sexism, racism and elitism.” As Delevingne explained, the show even features a political debate about immigration in the world’s version of parliament.

Whether in a fantasy world or not, immigration is a hot-button issue, dripping in controversy and immersed in politics. Carnival Row‘s exploration of the politics of immigration reportedly spilled over into a bit of a real-world drama at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego. To promote the show, Amazon had set up an interactive experience at Comic-Con, where fans were able to choose between being a human or a creature, and were then given a corresponding identity card of a character from the show. Bloom says that San Diego’s Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, showed up at the event, selected creature, and was handed an identity card for a character described as “a mythological scrappy immigrant trying to make it in an oppressive new land.” Bloom recounts that Mayor Faulconer immediately fled, muttering, “Oh no, I can’t have anything to do with immigration.”

The Mayor’s office refuted this claim, pointing out that Mayor Faulconer has a strong pro-immigrant record. But whether or not Bloom’s version of the event is accurate, it certainly highlights how pop culture so often reflects the culture around it, and how it can seamlessly, and perhaps awkwardly, intersect with politics. And while Bloom promises the show “… doesn’t feel like it’s banging you over the head … ” with its politics, there is nothing wrong with fiction that can impart a message that continues to resonate long after the credits roll.

[See Cara Delevingne, Orlando Bloom Discuss Immigrant Themes in ‘Carnival Row’ by Will Thorne, Variety, 27.Jul.2019; How Amazon’s ‘Carnival Row’ will use Fantasy to Tackle Immigration, Other Issues by Jean Bentley, The Hollywood Reporter, 19.Jul.2019; and Orlando Bloom Claims San Diego Mayor Ran From Comic-Con Exhibit Featuring Immigrant Characters by Michael Schneider, Variety, 19.Jul.2019.]


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