On A Wing And A (Box-Office) Prayer: The Racialicious Review Of Red Tails

By Guest Contributor Kendra James

[Note: The version of the film I saw was a screener in NYC about two weeks ago, and I'm writing this having not seen the final Jan 20th release. If anything has drastically changed (like –I hope-- the horrid opening credits sequence in bold, unevenly placed red text) I invite notes about that via comments!]

Based on this weekend’s box-office totals, a fair number of you might already have seen Red Tails, but for those who want to proceed without major spoilers, the basics:

  • The summary, as provided by IMDB: “A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard,” is fairly accurate.
  • There hasn’t been a movie screaming, “GEORGE LUCAS MADE ME!” this loudly since Attack of the Clones. Sometimes, it isn’t a bad thing. (And since Lucas, the film’s executive producer, recently claimed this is as close to Episode VII as we’ll ever get, maybe that’s what he was aiming for.)
  • Red Tails features a wonderful young cast of black actors who should be on all our radars. You’ll feel better for having a little Nate Parker in your life– and don’t be ashamed if you have flashbacks to the first time you saw Will Smith in Air Force gear in Independence Day. It’s okay, you’re not alone.

For all the red tape and controversy surrounding its release, Red Tails doesn’t explicitly touch upon race as much as it could. Yes, there are the requisite scenes where older, white members of the army tell Bullard (Terrance Howard) that negro pilots can’t ever be expected to fly proper cover for his white bomber pilots; a scene where one of the Tuskegee crew, Joe “Lightning” (David Oyelowo) Little, gets into a fight with white airmen inside their Whites Only soldiers’ bar; and be sure to listen for any and all references of “Black Jesus.” Race is certainly mentioned, and important part of the film. But given the time period, are there other racial issues they could have given a platform? And should the film be chastised for silencing the experience of all African-Americans of the era – specifically women?

More detailed SPOILERS are under the cut.

There’s a scene where Bullard is giving another one of his airmen, Easy (Parker) a lecture on self-pity and how easy could have it in life, after a mission gone wrong. Major Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.) stands behind him as the lecture continues, and when all three are framed together in the shot you begin to wonder whether maybe, just maybe, the movie is about to touch on not only black/White racism, but the dynamics of colorism within the black community and the advantages/disadvantages of having lighter skin. The shot frames it perfectly. You have two light skinned men lecturing a dark skinned man about the advantages he has and should take in life, yet it’s never mentioned that perhaps Stance and Bullard’s perceptions on life have been shaped by the lighter color of their skin.

The scene isn’t totally contrived – the actual commanding officer of the Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O. Davis, was similar in complexion to both Gooding and Howard, who seem to play dual stand-ins for him. But it represents a missed opportunity to touch on colorism, a topic that isn’t addressed enough in a public forum (until a magazine lightens Beyonce’s image, or Brian Stokes Mitchell is cast as -Gasp! – a black man on Glee, that is …). It wouldn’t have been expected for Easy to backtalk his commanding officers, but it would have been nice to see him bring it up later, perhaps with one of the other pilots. It’s not a nuance one might expect Lucas to grasp (does he even know the definition of the word?), but one would think the film’s co-writers, Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder and novelist/ media critic John Ridley, might have. Roger Ebert makes another suggestion in his review of the film, noting, “[Red Tails] could have done more than that, by more firmly establishing the atmosphere of the Jim Crow South that surrounded most of the airmen in their childhoods.” Had this background been established, perhaps the door would have been open for a discussion on what it meant to be a light-skinned African-American in 1944.

The movie’s one romantic subplot, an interracial relationship between Lightning and a white Italian, Sofia (Portuguese-American Daniela Ruah), also blows a chance to do something different. It would have been nice to see a young Black actress snag a role in this movie. A large group of men get a great platform here, why not a woman? (Easy scenario: one of the pilots is injured and is nursed back to health by a beautiful woman at an army hospital and they fall in love.) But, fine, the writers have other ideas, and as Lucas said during his Daily Show appearance, he was already having a hard enough time selling this film staring a bunch of Black actors, so he’s hesitant to also include a Black love story as well. So they decide that Lightning will woo Sofia, yet say nothing about the implications or realities (negative or positive) of an interracial relationship in this time. It shouldn’t not be in the film, and similarly shouldn’t be disregarded as a thing that would simply never happen in the time period . However, omitting any mention of it at all seems disingenuous for a film that is about the African-American experience.

Clutch Magazine recently asked if black women should boycott the film because of the lack of a black female love interest, in response to this post from What About Our Daughters? The African-American woman’s experience is often whitewashed and written out television and films. More often than not we’re sidelined to best friends and supportive sidekicks who don’t have backgrounds of our own that aren’t directly connected to the white star’s. Cinematically, we’ve been fairly silenced, and that makes the choice to eliminate the female voice from a movie centering around an African-American struggle to be all the more troubling. Some would say in its defense that this is a “war movie” and not a “chick flick,” and as such it didn’t need another love story (or any love story) in the script. Of course when this is said they’re conveniently forgetting films like Pearl Harbor, war films with predominantly white casts where a romantic subplot is common place and even expected.

The film could have benefited from a tighter script, and perhaps that would have involved cutting any and all romance from the plot. However, that they chose an interracial romance – no matter how poorly examined it is – is no reason to boycott the film. Red Tails is still a movie starring our own. While Howard and Gooding Jr. are already established in Hollywood, they’re still not offered the array of roles that their contemporaries are (let’s consider the widely diverging career paths of Gooding and fellow Jerry Maguire star Tom Cruise, shall we?). And Parker, Tristan Wilds, Elijah Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, and Marcus T. Paulk aren’t going to be given the same big-screen exposure as the heartthrob white actors their own ages. Personally, I left the theatre wondering when I’ll get to see Parker, Jordan, and Anthony Mackie (of The Adjustment Bureau and Man On A Ledge) all starring in a movie where they just get to be dapper as hell – you know, the same thing actors like Brad Pitt and George Clooney get to do in every other movie they’re in (that’s the point of the Ocean’s Eleven series, right?).

Having once worked in talent management, allow me to speak from professional experience: When you represent a black actor who isn’t a Denzel Washington or a Will Smith, you spend a lot of time scouring casting breakdowns looking for roles in television and film that fit. Normally an age and body type description is given and if a race isn’t specified it reads “Open Ethnicity.” But here’s the thing: a lot of times that means “anything but Black,” which you find out quickly when you call the casting office before submitting your client and ask if the role could go African-American. There’s almost always a pause and hesitation before the assistant on the other end of the line finally says, “… not exactly what we’re looking for, but you can submit anyway.” The reality is that dapper, good looking black folks are not something Hollywood assumes the American public wants, and if we boycott the one mainstream film out this year with an almost entirely black cast we’re doing a disservice and making it harder for any black actor/ress to find starring work.

When it comes down to it, Red Tails is a film with a story that deserved to be told back in1988 when Lucas first had the idea (though time only helped when it came to the superb special effects). It needed some editing, maybe a third or forth pass at the script, and a little polish, but it was an enjoyable film no better or worse than the equivalent white staring action movies that come out during the industry’s dead winter months. The only difference between this and other winter action films like Gina Carano’s Haywire or Denzel’s Safehouse is a predominantly black cast and 20 years of being kicked around Hollywood because no one wanted to touch it with a ten foot pole. And that’s the rub, isn’t it?

The film has its problems when it comes to race, and Lucas has put a potentially hurtful spin on its press while doing his best to promote it (talking more about the negatives of how difficult it was to make the film, rather than the things his already loyal fans would want to hear: He’s not making any more Star Wars films and this is the closest thing they’re going to get). It’s also in an interesting place in the general release market, in that it’s a film with an all-black cast that’s not a Tyler Perry film (or the like). It doesn’t get that built in Perry/Black film audience because it’s not your “typical” black movie, but it also doesn’t necessarily get the white male audience that makes up the majority of a war movie box office. Red Tails is something of a novelty in the mainstream box office, but the more of us who go out to support it, the less of a novelty all black casts become. That’s why I say this: Read this review and any others you want, but definitely go out and see the film.

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  • CB

    I saw it last week, and aside from the some bad acting (mostly from the bomber pilots, who I supposed were trying to make the plot VERY CLEAR), it was still really entertaining.  I have to say seeing all those gorgeous black men in uniform was alright with me! 

    I do think the utter absence of black women in the film was bizarre.  I didn’t know Aaron McGruder was one of the writers of Red Tails.  Seeing the way he generally portrays black women on the Boondocks, I never got the sense he liked us too much.  I have to say knowing that he’s one of the writer’s, I’m less surprised that there were no black women in the story, or that the romance was an interracial one. I liked the love story. I thought they were a cute couple, albeit a bit absurd that neither of them bothered to really learn the other’s language, but I supposed love is the universal language. :-) I was surprised that her momma was totally cool with the whole thing though, it’s unrealistic that nobody said anything. Anyway.  I definitely don’t think that’s a reason to boycott.  It’s baby steps with Hollywood and the mainstream.  Black women as major characters, in a film with a predominantly black cast, with discussions of colorism and Jim Crow, sadly, might just be too much at once.

    PS I was dying at the Germans calling them Africans.  Too much.

  • CB

    I saw it last week, and aside from the some bad acting (mostly from the bomber pilots, who I supposed were trying to make the plot VERY CLEAR), it was still really entertaining.  I have to say seeing all those gorgeous black men in uniform was alright with me! 

    I do think the utter absence of black women in the film was bizarre.  I didn’t know Aaron McGruder was one of the writers of Red Tails.  Seeing the way he generally portrays black women on the Boondocks, I never got the sense he liked us too much.  I have to say knowing that he’s one of the writer’s, I’m less surprised that there were no black women in the story, or that the romance was an interracial one. I liked the love story. I thought they were a cute couple, albeit a bit absurd that neither of them bothered to really learn the other’s language, but I supposed love is the universal language. :-) I was surprised that her momma was totally cool with the whole thing though, it’s unrealistic that nobody said anything. Anyway.  I definitely don’t think that’s a reason to boycott.  It’s baby steps with Hollywood and the mainstream.  Black women as major characters, in a film with a predominantly black cast, with discussions of colorism and Jim Crow, sadly, might just be too much at once.

    PS I was dying at the Germans calling them Africans.  Too much.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MQEC5FUPX6GT5FFCFG3RK3LUOI Rebecca

    Just finished watching the movie. The  writing could have used a bit more work because it didn’t seem 100% natural to me but the film was amazing. It was a refreshing surprise to the Tyler Perry films with an all black cast and it made me feel. It was a shame that no black women were included and as the movie was playing I was thinking of ways that something like this could work with an all black, all women cast. Probably be taken my daughter to see that movie sadly.

  • Iggles

    “However, that they chose an interracial romance – no matter how poorly examined it is – is no reason to boycott the film. Red Tails is still a movie starring our own. ”

    Hell nah!

    It’s not a movie starring my own when BLACK WOMEN WERE PURPOSEFULLY EXCLUDED from the entire film. It’s not historically accurate when you exclude an entire gender from the story — it ceases being a film about black PEOPLE and becomes a movie about black men.

    I’m sick of people equating that Black Men = Black Community

    They were wrong from doing this, especially when these black men were fighting for their wives and children. Not to mention, there were also some black FEMALE pilots who were ALSO ERASED!

  • http://twitter.com/KJenNu Kaila Heard

    A review of this and other pro-Red Tails reviews: It’s a $100M mediocre war movie dipped in chocolate that Black people must support.  
      
    **This encouraging people to buy these tickets out of solidarity, can feel really heavy and in the end a lot like guilt. Guilt is no fun and American mainstream action movies, even those based on historical events, are meant to be fun, escapist fare.
     
    So, the next writer who creates an article, blog post, whatever with the underlying intention to get more people to see the movie – how about hawking its great costumes**, the fight scenes, or the eye candy. I subscribe to the Tyler Perry school of showcasing beefcake. Eye candy should be nicely muscled, partially to skimpily dressed and glistening. Oh, yes, whether from oil, rain, sweat, or even mud, some part of their bodies must be glistening.
     
    **I’m kidding, but I no longer automatically jump up to see every Black movie at theaters like I use to. From crummy biopics, to banal romantic comedies, if it had black people starring in it, I thought that it was mandatory that I go see it. But years later and several, several movie tickets past, with less Black movies (mainstream) being produced now, much less stories and characters that I am interested in and I’m starting to think that this is an ineffectual strategy.  

    It’s like continuing to shop at a business with a racist store owner in the hopes that the next time when you turn your money over to him, he will look up from taking the dollars out of your hand and recognize the hand is connected to a fully realized human being that is his equal. He doesn’t but you keep buying anything he offers to you anyway. (Okay, that example came directly from a storyline with Whitley Gilbert at an upscale jewelry store in A Different World but the lesson can still be applied nearly 20 years later)

     
    .  

  • Furtgo

    I wonder if peddlers are selling bootleg copies. If they are, they are ruining their future profits on future black films, for if there’s no good box office for this one, won’t be much more.  The bootleggers may sell out, but if the numbers don’t get back to the producers, it’s like no one saw it.

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  • Ajtaylor2

    I am very glad you posted this. As a African-American male, I went to see the movie just because of all the controversy and bad press it was receiving in the black community. I was disappointed how the movie ‘tip-toed’ around race as an issue and was very upset when I saw African American women had no role. Sounds like silencing the marginalized to me! The scene you pointed out with the two light skinned men lecturing the dark man, you hit it on the spot.

  • Anonymous

    Even if Lucas is bad at romance it seems unrealistic that we would we see absolutely nothing of the wives or black women in these guys lives. When I think of that Pearl Harbor film I think of that theme song which was teeming with romance. Seriously, how many war films are completely absent of women?

    The level of social realism referenced here reminds me of The Princess and the Frog.

    • CB

      I know, one of the guys could have at least missed his momma.  All of them had mothers, if including wives and girlfriends were too much trouble

    • CB

      I know, one of the guys could have at least missed his momma.  All of them had mothers, if including wives and girlfriends were too much trouble

  • http://twice-immigrant.livejournal.com/ CaitieCat

    For all its faults, I’ll be making sure to see it in the theatre (and I never go to the theatre anymore), to do my part to say, “Yes, white people will go to see a movie with a mostly-Black cast.”   I’m actually really looking forward to it, as a WWII buff: I’d like to see movies get made about the Japanese-American 442nd regiment, or the Red Ball Express (mostly Black drivers and labour making possible the drive across Europe), or various other important and under-told stories of PoC experience in the period.

    But I’ll also be noticing the lack of Black women’s roles, and that the movie wouldn’t have been made at all without splashing white privilege onto it. 

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    Are we three dimensional if there is no love between us? Lucas was afraid to offend White studio executives and White audiences with a depiction of Black love? But he expects Black people to support his film? He slaps us in the face and then wants our support?

    The fact that there were no Black women in this film was a deal breaker for me. If Lucas really fought the fight that he says he did to get this made then he should have done it right.

    It seems people always have reasons, excuses, not to show Black people loving each other on film. Be it the Frog Princess or this film, there’s always a reason.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/o123isme#ba8f0 123isme

    Good post, but no, I’m not going to see this movie. I went from being over the moon to see this film (‘Cool! An all-Black period piece with relatively unknown actors playing main roles!’) to on the fence when I realized that Terrance Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. were in it. When I found out that Jasmin Sullivan and a second black actress (I forgot her name) were edited out of Red Tails, I decided not to waste my time. Terrance Howard’s comments (http://www.whataboutourdaughters.com/waod/2012/1/22/terrance-howard-black-women-are-antiquated-white-women-repre.html) about Black women and White women sealed.

    As a Black person, but especially as a Black female, why in the world should I go to see a movie for which the production went out of its way to exclude Black females? If the audience would have been turned off of the movie by a brief reference or a minor side-story regarding two Blacks in love, how would they not have felt the same seeing a Black man with a White Woman??? That’s a bullshit excuse for depicting an interracial relationship instead of (not in addition to) a Black relationship.

    As for being obligated to see it to support future Black movies…no. That’s not happening. Hollywood is Hollywood. Even if this movie did as well as Titanic, there would be new reasons why the next all (or mostly) Black movie can’t be funded.

  • Guest

    “Red Tails is still a movie starring our own”  – who said they are “our own”? if they can leave out black women with no argument, they are not any of mine.

    Also, to all the people saying that because the film took place in Italy there could not have been a  Black woman love interests, I would like to   point out that if a film is in North Africa with Rommels’ army or anywhere else, white men are NEVER shown saving anyone except their own, and definitely NOT Black. If you can’t see the trend of the removal of Black women from music videos as decent love partners, from most TV shows as loving partners to Black men, and from all movies except the most trashy and degrading, then you are intentionally deluding yourselves.

    Moviemakers routinely use “creative licensing” and invent something unrealistic (like inventing the white woman in Red Tails) in many movies – why then can’t some creative licensing be used to ensure the Black romance is shown – for example, as someone stated, maybe have an airman injured, and he meets the Black nurse that he falls in love with? Particularly realistic since every single Airmen in that movie married Black women and one of the Tuskegee Airmen married another pilot who happened to be a bLack woman. This is very plausible since they were on dangerous missions and the Airmen were only allowed to be treated by BLACK NURSES. They were not allowed to be touched by white nurses. They were considered disgusting subhuman animals by the very white people they were “serving and protecting”. And many of the women of  Germany and Italy (the Axis powers, nonetheless)  would not go near the Tuskegee Airmen and called them “dirty apes”.

    Why do Black people continue to accept the elimination of Black women, or the degradation of  Black women? Just like the music indystry and hip hop, the movie industry is going the same way. Only Black women got called b*tch, skanks, hos, dogs, etc in Black music. Thisis being allowed in the movies too.

    This movie, as well as the general trend of what is happening is pure
    EVIL. And everyone wants to pussyfoot around it. Remember that the Nazi’s
    used propaganda as well through their media to help eliminate millions.

    The support that Black men have for this continual REMOVAL of decent Black women is indicative of Black male racism as well. Sick of it. Black men and women are paving the way for their own daughters demise, and I’m sick of it. Niki Minaj just released a new video called “Stupid Hoe” and the only movie people toss out as an alternative to Red Tails for Black women is named “Pariah” – which means to be 1. an outcast. 2. any person or animal that is generally despised or avoided.Why would I go see that?

    • Anonymous
    • Anonymous

      Don’t knock Pariah. I would kill to see that movie. It looks full of awesome.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Casher-Oneil/100002427586133 Casher O’neil

      I can see your point, but should we really be looking to the media to provide good role models for our daughters (and sons, for that matter)?  We should know by now that it does not have the best interests of black people, and women in general, at heart.

    • Anonymous

      if they can leave out black women with no argument, they are not any of mine.

      A lot of war movies have left out women or have no women in them-why should  Red Tails be any different?

      Also, how could a movie  that takes place in Europe during WWII have Afro-American women in it when there weren’t likely any women of color there? 

      Why can’t people deal with reality rather than inject their own personal fantasy into everything, especially when it comes to historical films?

  • Mneme

    “yet say nothing about the implications or realities (negative or positive) of an interracial relationship in this time”
    So, I would say they made it EXTREMELY EXTREMELY subtle but they did subtley acknowledge it with the fact that Sophia would only marry him, if he stayed in Italy.

    And mildly off topic: do you REALLY want to see Lucas do a love story again?? Remember Clones….

  • Kat

    “You’ll feel better for having a little Nate Parker in your life”.
    Are you f kidding me?! Yes, I desperately need rapists in my life! Totally lacking. I really did not expect that from THIS webpage (usually racialicious is good with this kind of stuff).

    • Anonymous

      You’re the first I’ve heard. If you’ve got a link to what happened, we’ll add an ETA to the post.

      • Kat

        Sure and thank you!
        In 1999, Nate Parker and a friend of his had sex with an 18 year old while she was unconscious. Both were on trial. The jury let Nate go because… and this one kills me… she had consented to sex with him once before. Apparently if you consent once, you automatically are presumed to be always up for it… even when not conscious.

        Here http://www.womenslawproject.org/Briefs/Doe_PSU_amended_complaint.pdf

        • Knlkm

          well then Black women dodged a bullet with this one.

      • Kat

        And for a quicker-to-read snippet: “The Women’s Law Project sued Penn State on behalf of a former female
        student who went to police in 1999 to say that she was raped by two
        university wrestlers, identified as Jean Celestin and Nate Parker.The female student also said the two men began stalking her.”They
        followed her. They called her names. They publicized her name. They
        tortured her. And the school’s response was a slap on the wrist,” said
        Frietsche. The university allowed the two men to remain in school and as members of the wresting team under scholarships. Both
        men were charged. Parker was acquitted, but a jury found Celestin
        guilty and he was sentenced to six months in jail after receiving
        letters of support from university administrators.”Read more: http://www.wtae.com/news/29740682/detail.html#ixzz1kPmZZvvb

      • http://heavyarmor.wordpress.com Heavy Armor

        I think Kat is referring to this:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nate_Parker#Background

        The second paragraph contains the accusation that had been leveled against both him and a teammate at PSU.

        The Women’s Law Project alleged that the victim, after reporting it to the police, endured threats and harassment from Parker afterwards.

        http://www.womenslawproject.org/Briefs/Doe_PSU_amended_complaint.pdf
        (PDF file of the amended complaint)

        However, at least according to this article, the victim’s testimony also indicated a consensual encounter with Mr. Parker on at least one occasion.

        http://hamptonroads.com/2007/12/hampton-roads-hollywood
        (Scroll down to “A Dark Chapter”)

        There is a little more info (including the civil suit) here:

        http://www.wtae.com/news/29740682/detail.html

        However, bear in mind that settling a civil case is not an automatic admission of wrongdoing or culpability, as civil trials have a much lower burden of proof than found in criminal cases.

        Take from all of this what you will.  I make no judgments regarding the presented facts.

        • Kat

          I strongly object to this sentence of yours: “However, at least according to this article, the victim’s testimony also
          indicated a consensual encounter with Mr. Parker on at least one
          occasion.” See my other comment. No relevance. This is rape culture, where the assumption is made that if I or any other woman or man agree to having a penis in me once, I will always be fine with that- even if not conscious!!! That is rape culture, pure and simple. 

      • Goldenbrownglow

        Yes I read that on wikipedia too. What bothers me most about it is, according to the article, he was acquitted BECAUSE she admitted to having had consensual sex; like “Well if you did it once there’s noooo way that you can all of a sudden say no”, and then being sick to my stomach wondering forever if he really did it. :’(

    • Kendra

      Also the first I’d heard of this– I spent most of my time IMDBing the actors, and this wasn’t mentioned on his profile. Thank you!

    • Kendra

      Also the first I’d heard of this– I spent most of my time IMDBing the actors, and this wasn’t mentioned on his profile. Thank you!

  • Georgialingua

    As a military veteran and a lover of history, I agree with comments on love interests – there definitely should be more show of that and I’m surprised more characters weren’t shown off duty going on dates, especially with Black women.  On the interracial issue, more could have been done with that too – and still been in the ‘ordinary occurrences zone’.  Many Black-White, Asian-White military/civilian marriages/relationships in Europe during WWII were ended or annulled due to unit pressure as White commanders and other White officers had issues themselves with their subordinates choice of partner, outside of the law or regulations.  A book called War Brides details this issue some.   Other writers have addresses the issue as well. 

  • Anonymous

    THIS is the Tuskegee love story that make me cry this morning and that should be in the movie!
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/22/us/tuskegee-airmen-first-couple/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_23IFUP4XA7MXQLAPZAGEO2QDQM Kynthia

      OMG – I creid and cried. I have met some of the airmen back in 1991.  I think this would have been an INCREDIBLE addition to the movie. Damn Lucas for pandering to the “Only white women” can be important love interests bullshit !

      • WhoIWant

        I think you need to be angrier at John Ridley and Aaron McGruder, who wrote the script. Which means THEY wrote Black women out of the script. Out of REAL history.

      • WhoIWant

        John Ridley and Aaron McGruder, 2 Black men wrote the script, so they are responsible for writing Black women out of the script. Our very own intra-racial racists. Thta’s true hate for Black w o men. They included a white man, and a white woman, but wrote Black women completely out of the script.

  • http://bytheirstrangefruit.com StrngeFruit

    Also, I was frustrated that Red Tails had the female romantic lead be white. But gave them a bit of a pass since it took place in Italy. But then I got to thinking: it wouldn’t have been that hard to have a romantic interplay with a black female love interest back home via love letters and flashbacks. Now this CNN article that could have totally made for a great black female role: http://t.co/Gbf9kWE4

  • http://bytheirstrangefruit.com StrngeFruit

    Lucas has given a lot of interviews lately. Says some interesting things. Is he trying to use his privilege for good, or just becoming another ‘white savior’?

     I think in general he’s done an alright job. It would have been nice if he encouraged some other faces to appear in these interviews. Certainly the actors have good name recognition and Anthony Hemingway could certainly use the airtime as a budding director making his feature film debut. Best of all would be to hear from the actual airmen that this movie is about! After all, they won’t be with us for much longer.It could be that Lucas did indeed ask that these things happen, but was denied. And it’s not his fault that the media is the way it is.

    There have been a few recent appearances on CCN, and even Fox. So it could have been better, but I think he did all right. Thoughts? (some text modified from http://tiny.cc/ih5yq)

    • http://somethinlikeconjugalvisits.blogspot.com Ian Patterson

      There was a documentary I believe on BBC that aired titled Double Victory by George Lucas, narrated by Gooding Jr.  There was some awesome real footage and great first hand accounts of former airmen fighting in the Jim Crow era.   I don’t feel like Lucas had the “white savior” complex going on.  He does big action, and does it well.  Let’s hope this is a platform that inspires more narratives and allows for more diversity in the future.

      For me, it was refreshing to watch an interview where Lucas acknowledges that hey, I really hope this film sells well because an ensemble of black producers, directors, etc, will really get tanked if it doesn’t.  That is a conscious and a dialogue that far too many in hollywood will blatantly ignore and hope that everyone else forgets about.

    • gotellitonthemountain

      to strngefruit: if he encouraged? what are we talking about? I saw terrence howard give two recent interviews on the topic of this movie.  but you make a great point about hollywood rejecting more nuanced parts of the script. Remember they told him that this black movie wasn’t ‘green enough’ (wouldn’t make money.. because they’re implying that no one cares to spend 14 bucks to see a movie about black people). And he modified and modified and went from studio to studio.

      general discussion:As a black woman.. I kinda feel like this article and the discussion it prompts is trailing away from concern to looking for something to be wrong with the work. I  think it’s even difficult for members of any particular community to address so much and so concisely and perfectly within a 2-3 hour movie while educating and entertaining even as they are familiar with the subject matter personally. I don’t get some of the questions. why couldn’t there have been black women? why didn’t they use this scene to combat colorism? why couldn’t george lucas have taken his name off the production to draw more attention to the actors? why couldn’t it have a scene in africa so we can address every OTHER black issue known to man? why couldn’t we have seen a solider go back to his harlem ghetto?

      it’s about black men.. in the military. point blank. and personally I think lucas did a fine job. I think he explored it as much as he could without boring people to death. let’s not forget that movies(feature films) are partially.. mostly for entertainment value for consumers and money for the studio.

      • Anonymous

        You said it, sister. This is a story about our own black heroes of WWII (I hope that the equally famous original Black Panthers story gets filmed one day) , and instead of getting out there and seeing it, and taking in the history (however fictionalized) we have backbiting, second-guessing and armchair-directing/producing instead. Why? Why all of this?

        The function of a historical war movie is to show what happens in the battle/war itself, not any of the other stuff mentioned. Showing people who were not there or situations that weren’t there would make the film look false, and that that more than anything else is not what one looks for in a war film. We’re finally getting a war movie about black troops with a large enough budget to show what they did way back when, please, let’s all try and enjoy it as much as possible.

  • Keith

    It’s the  Rudolph the red nose reindeer approach to addressing black struggle, what a joke. 

  • http://molecularshyness.wordpress.com jen*

    I liked the movie, but was also majorly turned off by the poorly placed bright red credits in the beginning of the film.  What was that about?  It wasn’t in the same font as the movie title, so I didn’t even get the connection.

    As for the movie itself – it definitely didn’t touch on race issues as much as it could have.  I saw the same things you mentioned in the scene with the commanders and Lightning (re:colorism), and it would’ve been helpful for those who didn’t get it.  I got it.

    And it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Moesha’s lil bro in anything (maybe since Moesha), so I’m happy for him, as well as all the other actors.

    I’m not about to make this a fight about whether black women couldn’t have also gotten a lil shine.  If that’s your tack, that’s ok with me, but I’m not fighting that battle on this one.  I figure the prequel and the sequel will include more black women/families.

  • STaylor in Austin

    I normally think George Lucas is a hack who rode his one trick pony to death, but I applaud him for making this film. I will continue to think he’s a hack, but maybe that’s who was needed to get this project completed after 20 years

     I’m sure it’s not high art nor did it address the horror blacks experienced in Jim Crow America, but he got it made and people are seeing it, which is a great thing. I’ll see it to support it

    The film also doesn’t apear to be another awful Edward Zwick film that tells POC “stories” with whites as the leads. Shocking for a Hollywood movie

    Also the film doesn’t appear to be filled with Tyler Perry tropes…again, shocking

    However, if the film doesn’t sell well to non-blacks I think it will ultimately be a failure both financially and socially. If a fighter plane movie with explosions can’t break down the wall that prevents non-blacks from seeing movies with a majority black cast ( and no Denzel or Will Smith), then there will never be a film that can break down that wall