Okay. A break from speculative fiction, just for a brief minute.
Race movies. I used to love them. Hollywood Shuffle, Do the Right Thing, Higher Learning. Here were films that often gave voice to my inner frustrations of race and identity, and did so with a great deal of satire and entertainment. As Bernard Shaw once wrote, “My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.” From Robert Townsend’s Black Acting School to Radio Rahim to the complexities of race, identity and gender on American college campuses, these films dared to tackle often under-discussed issues on the big screen–and gave us something to talk about. Movies like these seem rare in our times. What we get instead are endless “black culture” films (all chasing the genius of Drumline) wherein race is broached in the white girl/guy who “slums” it with black dancers, or worse, feel-good-convoluted-but-doesn’t-really-expose-anything white-privilege dramas like Crash. And of course, the white-savior trope–Hollywood’s favorite forays into race–continue unabated, from The Blind Side to The Help. I won’t even go into the new-age black poverty porn film industry or whatever it was George Lucas was trying to tell us with Red Tails (I liked it better when it was called The Tuskegee Airmen, in 1995, on HBO, with a better script).
Well in the legacy of those pioneering, provocative edu-taining race films of the past, comes a new project called Dear White People. According to its creators, the film ”follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular “African American” themed party thrown by white students.” Claiming to have ”tongue planted firmly in cheek,” Dear White People aims to “explore racial identity in “post-racial” America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.” Hoping to get their film off the ground, the producers have put together a funding platform on Indiegogo and a rather polished and darkly humored trailer. As they rightly state, “there hasn’t been a film like Dear White People in a long time.” I agree, let’s make this happen. See the trailer to the film above. Visit the site here to donate to its production.