Hollywood didn't get the post-racial society memo

The history of the portrayal of African-Americans in movies and television is kind of jacked up. From D.W Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” to Basketball Wives the powers that be have had an enormous influence on how the masses perceive African-Americans to be. We are a number of things: lazy, incompetent, criminals, or uneducated. That is what Hollywood thinks of African-Americans for the most part. Look no further than movies like Soul Plane and television shows like basketball wives and bad girls club. When I first heard about George Lucas’ appearance on The Daily Show, I was not surprised when he said that most of Hollywood rejected the script for the movie “Red Tails.” It is based on the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American servicemen during World War II.

Lucas spent 23 years trying to get the movie made, which he bankrolled out of his own pocket, but when it came time to put the movie out, he had trouble finding a major studio that would support the film. He explained on Monday's "The Daily Show," "I figured I could get the prints and ads paid for by the studios and that they would release it, and I showed it to all of them and they said, 'No, we don't know how to market a movie like this."

"It's an all-black movie. There's no major white roles in it at all," Lucas added. "It's one of the first all-black action pictures ever made. ... It's a reasonably expensive movie ... and they don't believe there's any foreign market for it, and that's 60 percent of their profit."

The movie studios rejected the movie they believe that a major motion picture with an all-black cast would not do well at the box office. For the life of me I cannot understand why Hollywood only wants to show African-Americans dunking a basketball or being social deviants. I guess that sells unlike the story of a group of African-Americans males who served the county during the war with courage and honor.

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  • My wife's grandfather was a Tuskegee airman. Although I "knew" about them, I didn't really know until I was told details and did some reading. This "knowledge" or lack of may be true of most white people. I'll definitely see this movie. I don't know that I agree with your entire premise - the general moviegoing public will see Denzel movies no matter what he's doing - same with Will Smith. But, as always, your post is thought-provoking.

  • In reply to John Chatz:

    Yes the general public will see Smith or Denzel in a movie they are usually only African Americans in an almost entirely all white cast. The general public will also see a majority African American cast if it's a comedy or drama (only if it highlights dysfunction as in "Precious" or "The Color Purple"). Mr. Moore's comments are right on point and even apply to the literary world where African American authors get their manuscripts rejected not because the publisher thought they were poor but because "the Black characters are all too middle class." On television,even the popular "Cosby Show" with it's upper middle class characters, was still a sitcom.

  • In reply to in60657:

    Thanks for reading!

  • In reply to John Chatz:

    Thanks for reading! The two actors you named have the pick of any roles they want. So they stayed above the fray.

  • Hollywood and its machinery, much like politicians and most of the media, see skin color first --and they are the "enlightened" ones.

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