It Really Was a White Christmas at the Movies This Year
If you take a peek at the movies in theaters across the nation, they feature predominantly White casts. The films themselves tell stories that appeal mainly to White viewers. And the more woke I have become, I have found that movies made without me in mind are almost intolerable to watch.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the main films in theaters now:
Daddy’s Home – Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, two White men, star as a step father and father of the same children who become competitive over who is the better father. You know this is for White folk because it comes packaged with its own token Negro, Hannibal Buress.
Joy – Jennifer Lawrence stars as Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Robert DeNiro is her dad. And as expected, they found a way for Bradley Cooper to have a home in the film too. Enlighten me, where is the Black (or at least non-White) interest here?
Sisters – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are sisters throwing a final party in their parents’ home before it is sold. Lots of SNL alums. But after Fey’s chronicled problematic history with race, I wouldn’t waste two cents on this one.
The Big Short – In the latest attempt to mine public scandal for dollars, this film exploits the housing a credit bubble of the 2000s. And you know they aren’t addressing how that market crash disproportionately affected minorities.
The Danish Girl – Loosely based on the life of real life lovers, this film tickles Hollywood’s newest fancy: the transgender community. Yet and still, the transgender character is not played by a transgender person. And, everyone is White.
In The Heart of the Sea – Chris Hemsworth stars in a film about the real life 1820 event that inspired the novel Moby Dick. So … a bunch of White people on a boat for 2 hours.
At this point, I’m sure you’re thought this through and tried to pull up films that would be appealing to me, a Black american. You might have thought Creed or The Hateful Eight or Chi-Raq would fit the bill. Creed wasn’t targeted at Black audiences. It’s not a “Black” story. But, it is at least a contender due to Ryan Coogler’s directorial prowess, Michael B. Jordan’s rumored great performance, and Tessa Thompson’s prominent role in the film. But let’s stop playing games. The Hateful Eight has Samuel L. Jackson playing that same role Samuel L. Jackson has played in umpteen films, and I’m not here for that again. And Chi-Raq? Yeah. No.
The only film that would even remotely hit my radar is Concussion, and I wasn’t about to spend precious hours away from work watching a movie about how Black lives are being undervalued en masse, no matter how powerful Will Smith’s performance might be.
Facing the dearth of movies that I actually care about (or that care about me), I realized that the formula for movies is “insert popular White actor or actress doing new activity they didn’t do that last time.”
“Reese Witherspoon has to choose between two spies” or “Reese Witherspoon has to choose between a cowboy and a city slicker” or “Reese Witherspoon has to choose to be clean or dirty.”
“Jennifer Lawrence is in a dancing competition with Bradley Cooper” or “Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are in the 80’s” or “Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have funny accents, fur coats, and roller sets”
You get the point.
All of these movies are setup as showpieces for a White actor or actress to take center stage and tell the same White stories that have been told over and over again.
Want to see innovation? Reference nearly anything starring the actresses from our list of 4 Underrated Black Actresses Who Consistently Outshine Jennifer Lawrence. They usually star in stories that are nuanced, layered, and reflections of the lives of people commonly silenced, disregarded, or discarded. These are the important stories that need to be told.
Photo credit: Joy movie poster
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