Jan 23, 2012

It's just Monday and I'm already raving mad. If I see one more post about how Black people should not feel "obligated" to see the movie "Red Tails", y'all gon make me lose my mind up in here, up in here. Now it wouldn't be a Lovelylocks post without a confession so let's get that out of the way. I am probably the only person in America who has never seen a Star Wars or Indiana Jones movie. It's nothing personal. I just don't really do sci-fi and Indiana Jones, whatever genre it is, just never grabbed my interest.

Even so, I was excited when I heard George Lucas and Aaron MacGruder were collaborating on a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen. I had plans to support the film long before the media decided to create some hoopla about the lack of Black film funding in Hollywood (thank you Captain Obvious... Black people realized a long time ago, that whenever possible, we will be handed the shirt end of the stick). So although, I've probably never before given a dollar to George Lucas's well stuffed pockets, I was happy to stand in line this weekend and help him recoup his 100 million dollar investment.

Honestly, Red Tails won't make my all time favorite movie list because I am just not an action movie kind of girl but I am so happy that I went to see it and if you called me this weekend and asked me to go again, I would. There was a sense of camaraderie between the entire audience as we anxiously settled into our seats and waited for the movie to begin. The scene where the airmen declare, "We fight, we fight, we fight" caused my heart to swell with pride because these brave men did fight and in the end they proved to the world that were not only competent pilots, but that they were some of the best fighter pilots to ever sit in a cockpit. As we exited the theatre, we all wore a collective smile. We felt strong, proud, and unified. We fight!!

Of course, I should have known that reality would come crashing in at some point and the feelings of unity and solidarity would be marginalized. Sunday morning, I awoke to a myriad of blog posts and articles decrying support for the movie. Normally, I'd be content to agree to disagree but the arrogant countenance of the detractors has reay started to make my teeth itch (don't get it twisted, no matter how much education I get when I get angry, the Southern girl comes out in me... Lol... For you northerners, when someone tells you that you are making his/her teeth itch, it means you are getting on his/her last nerve and they are contemplating doing physical bodily harm to you).

So I am going to address the two most prominent arguments put forth by the movie's detractors.

1) I don't like historical/war/action movies and I go to the movies to be entertained. To me, this is another version of the it doesn't personally affect me argument. If you can quote every lyric to a song by Nicki Minaj but you are unaware of how these brave men risked their lives so that you would have a country to call home then YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. You are dumbing down my race. Yeah I said it. You are the reason that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum feel that they can make ignorant comments about Black people needing to cash pay checks instead of welfare checks. See they know that you are so busy worrying about being "entertained" that you won't take the time to get angry and call them on their lies while the closeted racists that they are pandering to tell themselves that they were right to think all Black people are lazy. Don't get me wrong. I do certain things purely for the entertainment value, like visiting amusement parks but when you pass up a chance to uplift our race because you'd rather be "entertained" your priorities are really screwed up. #realtalk

2) We shouldn't throw our support behind a white director telling our story. Our resources and support should be going to independent Black filmmakers. I don't see why we can't support both. Why should we settle for one or the other? I say we demand equal representation in both arenas. I think that some of you feel that George Lucas is somehow using the Tuskegee Airmen story to his advantage and I don't see it that way at all. First, George Lucas is a kazillionaire (okay that is not a word but come on, not many people have George Lucas money or fame) and a huge heavyweight in the film industry. If Hollywood investors would not give him the money to make a Black film, you know independent filmmakers have little to no chance of securing funding. Secondly, the man put up his own money for this project. As an author contemplating publishing my own book for the first time, I know that when you put up your money, it's a labor of love. So I don't think he's using anyone. I think he saw them for the heroes that they really are and wanted to tell their story. Now if we can prove him right and make this a success then the next Black filmmaker with a dream and a camera might find it a little easier to find money for their project.

We can keep telling ourselves that this is a movie and not really important to our status in America, but we are mistaken. Just like politicians cater and listen to citizens who organize and vote, Hollywood pays attention to the things consumers spend money on... if we want more Black films, more Black actors working, more Black directors, and more varied stories told from the Black perspective then we have to start by supporting this film. To steal and paraphrase, "You want respect. Well respect cost and right here is where you start paying." (Listen, y'all know I'm a little dramatic...lol) Shoot, I've motivated myself to go and see the movie again. Who's with me?? If you live in the Atlanta area, hit me up. We'll go and see it together.


  1. To say that one is a part of the problem simply because he/she chose not to see this film, I do not think is fair. No one is ever obligated to support anything. Personally, I was ecstatic about this film coming out. Liked them on facebook, wore my red hat on opening day, and I saw the film on Saturday. The accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen make me smile and very proud. I was awarded a college scholarship from them. Everything about them is beautiful to me. I remember being at the DuSable museum in Chicago. The first room I went to was the aviation room. I went to the slavery room and got so angry that I went back to the aviation room just to feel better.

    Having said that, I do not see every movie that has historical significance particularly for black people in the United States. Whether or not I have a strong argument for my decision is irrelevant. If I decide not to see it, I will not go see it. So I am a part of the problem? Not hardly. The issues in Hollywood run deep. While I am forever hopeful, I do not know that it is likely that George Lucas' labor of love will end with more studio backing of black films. Red Tails was #2 at the box office this past weekend...FANTASTIC. What is its staying power? More than just black people need to see this film. If his $100M labor of love does not make a profit, Hollywood will not blink.

    You felt a sense of comradiere at the theatre, which is great. I was blown away with the fact that the blacks in the nearly full room were in fact the minority. I really did not expect to see that. I hope there were similar outcomes across the country and continue for the long haul.

    As for attaching Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum's comments to those who want to be entertained, once again not fair. These men are trying to pander to a portion of the electorate that believes that garbage. They themselves know better. Even if they believe what they say, I'm sure that will not change even if every positive black film or television show was green lit.

    I am grateful for George Lucas' efforts and I hope it is an inspiration to others to take the risk. I'd love for EVERYBODY to see the film and dig deeper into this country's history. But the success of the film is not predicated solely on whether blacks support the film.

  2. On a side note, I never saw Star Wars and I've only seen bits and pieces of Indiana Jones. My friend that I saw Red Tails with never saw Star Wars either.

  3. I feel no obligation whatsoever to see this film. I detest Cuba Gooding and Terrance Howard. In addition,I don't need George Lucas to give me my black history.

    We have known for ever that Hollywood don't do black movies. Just because Lucas comes out and says it, while trying to capitalize on the market that Tyler and other black filmmakers have been "forced" to cater to, is nothing short of a slap in the face of the black consumer. Lucas could have teamed with any of the black filmmakers a long time ago and helped them... but he didn't.

    I'm a little more savvy than that and I thought you were too.