Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Monday, January 7, 2019

Well At Least Black Movies Aren't About White Assholes Anymore

So between awards season and the new year, all the media critics are doing all of their roundups of the best movies of the year. I'm broke so it's normally a while after a movie comes out that I've seen it and while that tail is shrinking it's not enough that I could do the best movies I've seen in 2018 without half of them having been released in like 2016 but it is enough so that I think I actually have something to say to cap off/start the year

Over the past year, I think black movies or at least the black movies that get the marketing push have finally gotten over the "overcoming" plot archetype.

Back in 2014, I wrote about my apathy towards a certain type of inspirational movie,   and my frustration that the "overcoming a singular racist asshole who keeps you down"  plotline. It's not one of the best things I wrote but I stand by the general point that I find these types of movies kind of boring and lazy at best discounting how they often portray racism as a thing of the past that no longer exists.

But over the last few years I have seen a plethora of black movies that weren't that, and moreover weren't that not because they ignored race or racism but because the characters had lives and agency outside of not only what "that white asshole" thought of them but that was intrinsic to them.

... The characters actually had a personality.

One of the problems that I have with the "overcoming" narrative is that it often boils blacks lives down into a singular experience and that can get tiresome, especially if that singular experience doesn't represent my individual life experience as an audience member.  And I don't want to dismiss any of the people who a lot of these movies are based on but their life is not my life their narratives often don't really speak to me as much as Hollywood assumes they do.

But this year there have just been so many good movies over the past few years that show a diversity of black vision. Many of which actually do come pretty close to my lived experiences.

(By the way I like all the Black super shows and movies that came out over the past few years but Static still wins since he basically was me at 15 at least in terms of his personality as a black nerd who is also kind of a wiseass at least in the suit. ... So basically the first incarnation of "Spiderman but if he were black." I hate that tail.)

I also want to be clear that not every black movie made before 2015 has been an "overcoming movie" but it's been frustrating to me that those seem to be the only ones that get the marketing push and these days that seems to be less and less the case.

And I like that but it makes me all the more frustrated that there are so many black movies from the past that aren't that haven't been exposed for the sake of "overcoming drams"

Well if only Black Panther or Sorry to Bother You won the Oscar.

P.S. I finally got around to watching Akeelah and the Bee and it's an exception to the rule, mostly because Akeelah actually has a personality and actively presses back on the role the movie gives her as the representative of all smart black kids everywhere as if to say, "this may look like that movie but this is not that movie. We ain't doin' that... okay we are but we're doing more than that"

Also, while I haven't seen it I've heard good things about Hidden Figures.

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