The John Ridley-Steve McQueen Beef

stevemcqueenIn the midst of all the celebrating for Best Picture winner “12 Years A Slave” we had John Ridley (screenwriter) throwing shade at director Steve McQueen as he walked to the stage to collect his Oscar and Steve McQueen with the above sorta sarcastic looking hand-clapping.

Folks immediately tried to downplay it by saying maybe Ridley was really focusing on his acceptance speech or could be those British people clap funny, but it was more than passing strange when the movie won best picture and McQueen (and Brad Pitt for that matter) neglected to thank the now Oscar-winning John Ridley script from Solomon Northup’s 1853 book.

According to rumors at Deadline Hollywood the tiff is over the screenplay credit. Presumably McQueen thinks he ought to get one. And elsewhere folks made a point that the cast seemed to line up behind McQueen, most memorably onstage after the big win when Ridley hung back towards the wings, away from the ecstatic actors and producers. Interesting too that Lupita N’yongo didn’t acknowledge Ridley’s adapting the book and that so much emphasis, perhaps understandably, has been on Northup’s 1853 account.

But back to the Schmucks with Underwoods idea…

“They were like football kickers, specialists — they didn’t pitch in, didn’t get tackled, they weren’t part of the movie company, the gang that went on the floor and bashed the damn thing out; they finished their work before the company gathered and were gone when it began.”

As such, whether in the right or wrong, the solitary writer will always be vulnerable.