How Dare We (Also, Trailers!)

Posted by 13th January 2012

It’s difficult to find entertainment that features non-white people in English-language media, you know? BET was created to feature black people specifically, because otherwise, they wouldn’t get any lead roles on white-dominant TV (which is pretty much all other US TV).

Last year, I read about Danny Glover’s troubles in finding a financier for his upcoming biopic on Toussaint L’ouverture, the leader of the Haitian revolution. Why wouldn’t it be funded? I mean, it’s a great story: slave uprisings, people taking the French Revolution to its logical end, people coming into their own and realizing they, too, deserve rights, and will fight and die for it. Toussaint L’Ouverture wasn’t really part of my consciousness until I read Nora Jemisin’s The Effluent Engine, whose protagonist is a daughter of this legendary hero. 
Meanwhile, in France, a TV movie of this hero is being made, starring Jimmy Jean-Louis. Jean-Louis is Haitian-born himself, which is also incredibly rare (Glover’s vision will star Wesley Snipes), so it’s pretty awesome! I found this trailer while googling for “Steampunk Toussaint L’ouverture” (which got me no steampunk results, predictably). Have a trailer, in French with no subtitles:
“Toussaint L’Ouverture” Trailer from Tambay Obenson on Vimeo.

The more we talk about these issues, the clearer it becomes that Hollywood (and many mainstream media producers) simply does not care about non-white stories. There are lots of really great English-language movies which simply fall to the side. Why?

Because they’re not about white heroes.

Producers won’t finance a movie with no white heroes because they’re not sure such a movie will make any money. (Glover finally found a Venezuelan financier.) (But seriously, it shouldn’t have taken him that long. And seriously, he shouldn’t have received that weak-ass “but it got no white heroes!” malarkey in the first place.) (What kind of reasoning is that.)

George Lucas recently went on the Daily Show to talk about this: it took him 23 years to fund Red Tails, which is, in his words, the “first all-black action movie” to come out of a big name Hollywood producer like himself. And when all he asked was for marketing, Hollywood said no, because they don’t know how to market a movie like this.

Red Tails is a movie about the Tuskagee Airmen, a squadron of all-black pilots, who, due to racist discrimination in the U.S. Army, were disallowed from fighting in the front lines. Black people can’t fly, can’t fight. Black people aren’t real American soldiers, amirite? Red Tails shows them being given a chance to prove themselves, and prove themselves they do. And simply because George Lucas repeats what he’s been told, over and over, that Hollywood does not know how to market non-white films, he’s called racist, and he’s whiny, and he’s discriminating, and he made an anti-white movie.

Go to the comments and count the number of hateful ones this trailer gets if you feel up to it. Because this movie points out the anti-black racism of the white supremacist U.S. Army of the time, it is an anti-white movie, which is just as bad as anti-black racism…. yes, let’s totally ignore the long history of slavery, Jim Crow, the fact that the Civil Rights era was even lived in the first place, and the fact that black people continue to face discrimination today.

How dare we celebrate these unsung heroes who fought for the very country that made clear that they were not wanted in it. Pointing out this little fact, how anti-white!

If we make a story that is not about white people, it is “reverse racism,” and it is “anti-white hatred.” Somehow, people can write stories that erase non-white peoples, and that’s not racist, that’s just “the way art works,” that’s just how the artists were inspired, and what they produced, and how dare we get offended because we’re not in it!

How dare we get offended when Disney’s Tangled features floating lanterns, a common cultural way of celebrating various festivals, and not feature non-white people! This despite the fact that the inspiration came from John Lasseter’s honeymoon in Tahiti. Our cultural signifiers, our customs, they are really adorable, and well worth adorning white people’s lives with. If you google “Tangled lantern” you will find NOTHING about the long cultural history of sky lanterns–people genuinely believe it comes from Tangled itself, a cool original idea.

How dare we get offended when The Last Airbender from Paramount starred only white people, at the expense of non-white people’s dignity. How dare we discriminate against white actors so!

How dare we get offended when people point out there’s no way black people could have existed in King Arthur’s time (hey, Merlin fandom!).

How dare we get offended when Harry Potter fans erase Blaise Zabini’s race despite in-text citations that Blaise is, indeed, a dark-skinned boy.

(Shit, is the word “offended” even applicable now? I’m not even offended anymore, just fucking pissed off. Is that better? Will that make you take me more seriously? If I don’t have a reaction, maybe I’m not offended, just resigned to the fact that you will always be racist. Is that better, you always being racist and me expecting you to be racist? What kind of standards for “basic decency” are we operating with here, now?)

(FYI, just because I expect it, doesn’t mean I accept it.)

How dare we point out that the superstructures we live in within the United States and Canada are white-supremacist when they are such wonderful countries and how dare we ask for role models that we can see ourselves growing up to become. How dare we ask that our histories be explored in our school education system.

How dare we get angry when white people patronizingly try to raise our children without actually knowing the challenges of being a racialized parent in a racist world. It’s not like non-white children are ever stolen by the system anyway, then and now.

How dare we talk about our experiences and expect white people to sit back and take the anti-whiteness.

How dare I declare my desire to have as many of ya’ll to go watch Red Tails on its opening weekend, Jan 20, to prove that such a movie deserves as wide an audience as possible? How dare I declare my desire to return to Canada Feb 4, and watch this movie over and over again in theatres?

Like this:

Ya’ll– if you are a supporter of this blog, and of all non-white steampunk, or non-white entertainment in general, or even of the idea of racial equality in any abstract manner, totally go check out Red Tails, which opens Jan 20th. Totally prove that an all-black action movie can and will pull in dollars, and that white people won’t be alienated by it, but actually enjoy it. Prove that ya’ll can handle seeing black men in the lead roles, in which they are not subordinate to white men, or hypersexualized, or demonized, but instead are heroes doing what’s right for the country they serve.

I’m gonna be away from the Internet for the next 48 hours. When I come back, I’m reading comments. If I see any racist bullshit going down hating on non-whites, crying “reverse discrimination” or “reverse racism” or anything of the like, I’m deleting it. No mercy. You’ve been warned. Take your racism elsewhere.


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