(well, really Reason #1 I’m happy to be more than half-way through my life…)
I no longer feel like I have to put up with cultural b.s. I smiled through when I was younger. A Hollywood friend recently asked me to look at a piece of his work. It was very enjoyable except for one little thing, a peeve that I was willing to grimace through in earlier days. Not any more though. This is the note I sent him…
“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. Part of the good news is that you may not care about the bad news. The best news is the your movie works fine. strong story, good characters, good world, fun action. The bad news is that I didn't give a shit about them for one simple reason--you committed a sin that I really don't forgive any more: you killed the only black character in the film. Any time that happens, I automatically withdrawn all empathy from the white ones, and frankly enjoy watching them die. I would suggest either taking the black people out, or changing the race of another character. aside from that little issue, though, well done!”
I’ve seen this trope literally countless times. And never, not a single time in an American film, seen the opposite. It may exist, but despite frequent mentions and lotsa suggestions from people, have been unable to identify a single American film in which all white characters (people with at least one line of dialogue) die, leaving non-white characters alive (so, “On The Beach” doesn’t count). Seen in in foreign films, for instance “The Chinese Connection”, where the “Russian” character is killed by Bruce Lee, a clear expression of hostility for the Russian occupation. In other words—it is hostility, not well veiled at all. Or, at the very least, a lack of extension of humanityt—if there is no example of an American film in which all the white characters die, then clearly the filmmakers know that it would be painful to sit through an experience like that, and simply don’t do it.
Similar, but not as extreme a reaction with films in which all the black characters are villains. “Captain Phillips” did this. As a result, I felt my mind slide into a place where I kind of enjoyed watching Tom Hanks get the shit beat out of him. Hey, I never said I was perfect. I find that I will always attempt to treat people 1% better than they treat me. But 2% and above is optional.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:26 AM