Exploring issues due to inter-speciesism, ‘Bright’ portrays the near-future – with a hybrid of the familiar and gritty real world, mixed with a couple of fantastical species. Set in America, a black human cop partners a orc cop. This is somewhat a role reversal, with the black living more like one of the ‘privileged white’, while the actor performing as the orc is really white, whose role is a little like a discriminated black.
The script is ingenious in showing how relative, fickle and senseless racism, speciesism and classism can be. Even if one used to more or less discriminate against a race, when an even less familiar one comes along, that one is more discriminated against, with the previous suddenly becoming less discriminated. Much discrimination is simply due to differences in appearances and lack of cultural understanding.
Orcs are featured to had been savage-like in the past, thus ‘paying for it ever since’, even after attempting to reform. Jakoby is the first legally accepted orc cop, who laments on being sandwiched by two ends of discrimination – ‘When an orc sees me, he sees a man, a wannabe human. When the humans see me, they see an animal. They hate me.’ Sadly, discrimination can be by one’s own kind too.
The writing of orcs into the story is clever – for portraying an easily discriminated species, who is humanoid, yet neither really human nor animal. This ambiguity highlights how pigeonholing of each sentient being as ‘one of us’ versus ‘alien’ is really quite ridiculous. Elves are also included to drive the moral home, whom despite being more refined in appearance, have some ‘savages’ among them.
The deepest problem with forced (and thus false) stereotyping of people, is that those collectively discriminated against often suffer so much, that they are ‘forced’ to band together to survive. Under tense situations, when they retaliate against discrimination, such reactions might get highlighted by other races, thus perpetuating discrimination. May more learn to reasonably trust, than to irrationally distrust – that all beings have Buddha-nature, that can be nurtured. This is the brightest message of hope from ‘Bright’.