From hit box office releases such as The Help, 12 Years A Slave, and Django you have to ask yourself, what is it about all these films that were box office hits have in common?
Aside from bringing in big dollars. One major thing that is hard to overlook are the “inferior” black character roles or insubordinate roles portrayed. Let’s take a look at what I mean by “inferior” “insubordinate” or any other negative connotation tied to a “black” movie which is described as a movie consisting of mostly (if not only) black characters.
1. Characters who are not academically educated.
2. Characters who are living in the streets and in deep poverty.
3. Characters who are enslaved.
4. Characters who are saved by the “white hero”.
It seems to raise some eye-brows, mainly because there has been a pattern for years of black films that are about slavery or servitude to the white characters seem to get better reviews, and the black films that consist of successful and educated black characters seem to get a “C-” or below. Is Hollywood sending a message that unless it’s a black film full of inferior characters or the “poor black slave” than it’s not a good film? Therefore sending a message that anything outside of these negative stereotypes (true or not) should not be taken as serious or possibly true to “real life” African-Americans”?
Films such as “The Help” received rave reviews and some Oscar winners, granted it was a good film but it wasn’t the best either. The Help is not a new “racially” themed film. Films like Gone with the Wind, Roots, The Color Purple, Beloved. The list goes on and on show case these themes. The black character who is weak and needs to be “saved” by the white hero who knows what is best for their lives, acting as God in a sense.
Ironically, a lot of these films were made by white filmmakers Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple) or George Lucas (Red Tails), just to name a few, and frankly were Oscar worthy but failed to get the credits these movies deserve. Could it be due to the admonishment by white filmmakers that reveal the sparse and unequal aesthetic value systems underneath films that feature a mass of black characters?
What about the so-called “movie critics” who seem so self-righteous and critique a film that claims to be un-biased but yet has shown an ironic pattern of grade “C” or below on films that showcase black characters who are educated, successful, and don’t fit the stereotypes that Hollywood wants to forever remain. The Racial empathy gap seems to be setting in more and more, the idea that anyone who is not black just can’t relate to films such as the most recent box office hit The Best Man Holiday which pulled in a strong $30.6 million it’s opening weekend coming in second to Thor 2. It’s a proven fact that people of other races (especially White Americans) just don’t care to see or like black films, not unless it’s a black character at the hand and mercy of his white subordinate. Look at a study by Indiana University telecommunications professor Andrew J. Weaver who completed a study in 2011 that validates the lack of white audiences and their willingness to be open and unbiased and watch a “black” film. The research concluded that people of all racial groups empathize less with black people than they do within their own race or of other races. A wide range of studies also found that participants think black people lead crappier lives in general, which means their perceptions of African-Americans is desensitized.
Should it even shock anyone that the films that did contain mostly black characters only received great reviews when a black character was enslaved or at the hands of his white character (as mentioned in some of the films listed above in this article)? Take that god awful film Monsters Ball starring Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thorton. Berry who plays Laticia a financially struggling single mother who’s husband is placed on death row. Unable to seek the counsel of anyone and left in destitute after her obese son dies, in desperation she seeks comfort in the white racist cop (Thorton) who seems to be her “saving grace” after satisfying her plea of “make me feel good”, garnered her first Oscar winning role.
“What the hell” went through most of our minds, and if it didn’t for you it definitely did for me. Halle Berry has played in much better roles and films, Dorothy Dandridge, Losing Isaiah, which showcased better acting chops by berry and a much better storyline. That same year Halle Berry took home an Oscar, Denzel Washington took home an award for best actor in his “corrupt cop, black man dies at the end” Oscar “achievement”, and we all know he has played in roles ten times better and much more Oscar worthy. It seems the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science don’t always get it right, or seems to be making consistent choices when deciding which black actor is taking home an award and for which film based on the role they played (not to mention those awards are given few and far in between to people of color) and oh the Academy board is 90% male and white (coughs).
So with these patterns, what types of messages are we sending to American? Well only one message to me, blacks still don’t mean squat and are only perceived as believable when they are selling dope, in jail, and talk lyke, dis.”
What do you think? is Hollywood just blatantly racist? Are we still not catching on or just throwing it under the rug.
Share your thoughts.