Why Do People Hate Idris Elba: The Real Reason Behind Idris Elba’s Polarizing Appeal

Idris Elba is one of the most talented and acclaimed actors of his generation. With starring roles in shows like The Wire and Luther, as well as major Hollywood films like Thor, Pacific Rim, and The Suicide Squad, Elba has proven himself to be a versatile and compelling performer.

However, despite his success, Elba has also been the subject of significant hatred and backlash online and in popular culture. In this article, we’ll explore some of the key reasons why certain groups have expressed hatred or criticism of Idris Elba.

Idris Elba so controversial

Idris Elba has been a controversial figure for a few key reasons:

Casting controversies

Some of the hatred towards Elba stems from controversial casting decisions in major franchises:

  • James Bond – When rumors circulated that Elba was in consideration to play James Bond, making him the first black Bond, there was a racist backlash online protesting a non-white Bond. This revealed undercurrents of racism among some fans.
  • Marvel – Elba’s casting as Heimdall in the Thor films similarly led to some protests that a Norse god was being played by a black actor.
  • The Dark Tower – Elba’s casting as the gunslinger Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower books sparked anger from some fans, as the character was originally written as white in the books.

So Elba’s increased prominence led to controversies surrounding race and casting decisions.

Perceived arrogance

Some perceive Elba to be arrogant or full of himself at times. This can rub people the wrong way. For example:

  • He called himself “extremely handsome” in an interview.
  • He has touted himself as the first “black James Bond” even before being cast.
  • His futile attempt to replace Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood on House of Cards after #MeToo was seen as arrogant.

While he’s often just joking or confident, this persona isn’t liked by all.

Social media presence

Elba has a massive social media following, with 5.4 million Twitter followers and 2.9 million Instagram followers. However, fans can sometimes build up unrealistic expectations or feelings towards celebrities, which leads to disproportionate criticism when they feel let down over normal behavior. Elba’s widespread social media presence makes him more susceptible to this.

Relations with women

There are also perceptions around Elba’s relationships with women:

  • Multiple marriages – Elba has been married three times, which some criticize as showcasing an inability to commit.
  • Infidelity – He was accused of cheating by one of his ex-wives.
  • Womanizing – Some accuse Elba of being a womanizer and “running through women.”

While the reality is complex, these perceptions contribute to negative views.

Towards Idris Elba racist?

Yes, there are absolutely elements of racism in some of the animosity and criticism directed at Idris Elba:

  • As mentioned, anger over his casting in roles like James Bond and Heimdall was overtly racist.
  • There’s a long history of black actors and celebrities being disproportionately criticized or vilified compared to white counterparts.
  • The controversy over his relationship history evokes ugly stereotypes around black male sexuality.
  • Many of the usual signs of racist dog whistles and tropes are present in anti-Elba rhetoric online.

However, it’s too simplistic to say all criticism of Elba is racist. There are legitimate critiques around arrogance, relationships, etc. where race may not be a factor. But race certainly exacerbates the hatred.

people jealous of Idris Elba’s success?

It’s very possible that jealousy contributes to some of the Idris Elba hatred:

  • He achieved Hollywood stardom coming from a working class London background, which some may resent.
  • He has often been touted as extremely handsome, which can stoke jealously.
  • The Bond and Marvel controversies were fueled partly by fans who felt Elba was undeservedly getting opportunities over others.
  • His relationship history with various high-profile or successful women likely breeds jealousy.

People are often envious when someone becomes highly successful in a glamorous field like entertainment. And race can amplify this, as Elba breaks barriers for black British actors in Hollywood.

Misogyny involved in the criticism of Idris Elba

There are absolutely issues of misogyny bound up in some of the attacks on Idris Elba:

  • Claims that he’s a “womanizer” are steeped in chauvinistic attempts to police male sexuality.
  • Critiques of his failed marriages evoke sexist tropes about men being unable to commit.
  • Angry rhetoric about his cheating reinforces possessive views about male ownership over women’s bodies.
  • Resentment of Elba’s relations with prominent women are intertwined with viewing women as “status symbols.”

These dynamics illustrate how misogyny and sexism are intricately tied to some of the toxic attitudes directed at Elba. It’s bigger than just him as an individual.


In summary, Idris Elba has faced a disproportionate level of hatred and criticism in popular culture due to a combination of racist attitudes, jealousy over his success, and misogynistic views on relationships and gender roles.

While not all criticism of Elba is unfounded, he has become a magnet for some of the worst elements of racism, privilege, and sexism. Moving forward, we must push back on these regressive attitudes while also maintaining nuanced and fair evaluations of figures like Elba who spark such polarized reactions.

There are rarely simplistic answers, but the discourse can certainly become more civil, empathetic and constructive.

FAQs About Criticism and Hatred Towards Idris Elba

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the criticism and hatred directed at Idris Elba:

Why don’t people criticize white actors the same way they do Idris Elba?

Racial double standards absolutely play a role. White actors tend to get the benefit of the doubt while black actors are criticized more harshly for things like arrogance, relationships, and controversies. The underlying racial biases in society impact how Elba is perceived compared to white counterparts.

Does Idris Elba deserve the criticism based on his behavior?

Some criticism of Elba around arrogance or relationships is reasonable. But the extreme hatred he receives seems disproportionate and frequently laced with agendas beyond the stated criticism. Overall, he likely gets too much criticism based on problematic racial and gender attitudes.

Is criticizing Elba’s casting as a Norse god or James Bond inherently racist?

Not necessarily. Reasonable debates can be had about the importance of representation versus staying true to source material. However, much of the rhetoric around Elba’s casting devolves quickly into overt racism rather than nuanced discussions. But some good faith criticism isn’t necessarily racist.

Why doesn’t Idris Elba respond to his haters more?

He has addressed it occasionally but also likely wants to avoid fueling the fire. As a successful black celebrity, responding often leads to even harsher criticism that white stars don’t face. Pushing back also gives unconscious credence to some of the racist narratives. Staying quieter likely helps minimize feeding into the hatred.

Does Idris Elba have a valid defamation case against some of his harshest critics?

Potentially. If any critiques become outright lies and falsehoods, Elba could theoretically pursue legal defamation action. However, the bar for public figures is quite high and Elba is unlikely to go through that burden. For now, his strategy appears to be ignoring rather than engaging legally.

Leave a Comment