Ramblings Post #179
I love a good movie. Well, let's quantify that because I love some pretty dumb ones too. I love movies that suck me into the story, or make me wish I was the star. Or even better make me forget for a few minutes the world around me. And is funny. But not stupid. Okay, I don't know what I like until I see it. And then some films still have to grow on me. I'm not even sure why I wrote this now.
For the last two decades, in a Hollywood heavyweight has been struggling to bring a story to the big screen starring Black heroes of World War II. Now, frustrated to the point of action beyond all movie making logic, he has gone out on a limb and put up his own money (a big filmmaker no-no) to get made a fairly large budgeted big screen adaptation of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. And by doing so, he has accidentally put the idea of black film-making at risk because if a film by someone like him, an icon of nearly three decades of cinema, can't turn a profit here then the bulk of black films will be relegated to whatever Tyler Perry or the rapper of the minute wants to give us and bargain basement labor of love indie films. And nobody wants just that as the whole of black cinema.
Yet black women are talking about boycotting it.
Are kidding me? Did the "if this doesn't work nothing else even gets a chance" discussion even get acknowledgement?
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a big George Lucas fan. But his explanation of the whole system and why Hollywood is reluctant to make movies starring black characters shouldn't be dismissed because we don't like it. After all, he as well as anyone would know. To many studios he's money in the bank, so he should have had it easy. Instead, it took in twenty years and he's still going it alone on this one.
And black women are talking about boycotting it.
The two primary reasons I've seen today are "why support this and not an indie black film (Pariah)" or the "the movie doesn't have a black female love interest" so it must be writing black women out of history.
Pariah, for those of you who don't know, is a small indie film about a young black girl coming to grips with own sexuality in the face of her friends and family. I've only seen the trailer, but it looks sensitive and poignant, a lovely exploration of a young girl finding who she is in a world that might not accept her. But in Atlanta, it's playing at ONE location. People who like this film should rejoice in George Lucas's film. Why? Because if Lucas is successful, then movies like Pariah might be able to find a wider audience.
The other argument is one a bit more visceral. In the film, one of the black actors has a Italian girl friend (in Italy), so along with no major white hero, there is also no black female love interest. This I realize touches a nerve. However, the answer is the same for the first argument. If this film is successful, then those films that follow can include more and broader roles black actresses.
We've fallen into the instant gratification concept to hard here, in that instead of getting this victory we've become intent on "righting a wrong". Does Pariah deserve a wider audience? Yes. Will boycotting Red Tails get it one? No. Do black actresses need more roles in Hollywood? Yes. Will boycotting Red Tails and causing the first major black film in years to fail make that any easier? No. So why boycott?
No, that's a real question.
Because I don't get it. Black cinema will survive no matter how Red Tails does, but this idealistic martyr concept won't advance any black filmmakers agenda, only hinder the opportunity for what is to come. And opportunity is the heart of the matter, for without that we are nothing. And for the record, I'm probably going to buy a ticket to Red Tails and then not go see it, just support the idea that black people can be heroes on their own.
Black people can be heroes? Well, that's just a "horrible" message to send anyone.
Barkeep. Something smooth.