Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Jamila on BWE: Will You Be Going to See ‘Red Tails’ When It Comes Out?

I know the crowd here has a soft spot in their hearts for George Lucas because not only is he a great filmmaker ( I still watch the old Star War’s movies) but because he has a lovely, intelligent black women on his arm. Lucas has a new film coming out titled Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen, the popular name given to the first black men who served as pilots in World War II.

Personally, I had no plans to go see the film because the promotional snippet shown over at What About Our Daughters made the movie look about as exciting as watching paint dry. The fact that one of the characters becomes involved with a white women is not an issue for me; after all, black military men from America and Africa who are stationed in Europe have long been having consensual relationships with white women in those countries. I’m also not one of those black people who is silly enough to believe, or propagate the lie, that if I don’t go see this particular black movie ‘a baby seal will be shot in the head and have his little baby seal brains sprayed across the polar ice caps’–otherwise known as the ‘no other movie with black characters will ever again be made if you don’t do see this movie’ argument.

I’ve also seen other movies where a white man has a consensual relationship with a black woman, despite the fact that this would be historically inaccurate. The Last King of Scotland, featuring James McAvoy, is just one example of this type of relationship. Interracial love affairs are increasingly being made a part of movies because the number of interracial couples is increasing, and those couples want to see their relationships represented in popular culture, particularly advertising and movies.

Some black women have already said that they won’t be going to see the flick because one of the lead characters in the film has a white women as a love interest, making it historically inaccurate. The one black actress who had a prominent place in the movie ended up having her scenes left on the cutting room floor in post-production.

So, ladies (and gents) of Beyond Black and White, if you have heard about this flick, do you have plans on going to see it? Why or why not?


BB&W got this email from a reader on this very issue, and I (Chris) thought it would make a good companion to the discussion:

I just wanted to give Black women who are planning on seeing this movie a heads up. I attended an advanced screening for the film, “Red Tails,” and there are absolutely NO Black women in this picture. Not a single soldier talks about a girlfriend, a wife, a sister or a mother in the film. No one even has a picture of Lena Horne on the wall! The only woman in the film is white; she plays the wife of one of the black pilots. In real life, the Tuskegee Airmen were all married to black women,but the movie creator(s) saw fit to erase every single one of these black wives, and only feature a white wife for one of the black male characters.

Every war movie *except* those with black soldiers show the soldiers fighting to come home to their women (of the same race). This is true for every white war movie from the black and white era, to “Saving Private Ryan” and right on down to “The Dirty Dozen.” When it comes to black soldiers, movie makers find ingenious ways of leaving black women out! This trend even touched “A Soldier’s Story.” I’m sure just as many and more IR happened with white soldiers, but guess what? Those are rarely-if-ever put front and center, if they even get shown at all, in hero movies with majority white casts.

George Lucas says he worked on this movie for 20 YEARS. Both of the screen writers are BLACK MEN. The director is a Black man. There are about 15 Black actors in this movie. You mean to tell me NONE of these men noticed that they didn’t have wives, mothers or sisters? It was not an accident or an oversight that Black women were excised from this movie, this was intentional. There is always a angle in war movies that involves women. Whether its The Patriot or Saving Private Ryan, the women these men leave back home have a presence in the movie.

And now black women, who are once again NOT shown as women worth fighting for, are supposed to bear the burden of supporting “Red Tails.” Otherwise, we risk seeming ungrateful to Hollywood, unsupportive of black male actors, close minded to interracial themes or just plain too ignorant to see period pieces or anything that doesn’t have Tyler Perry’s name on it.

Think about your daughters. If they are going to watch a film celebrating Black achievements, why are they discounted and pushed to the sidelines always for someone white? It doesn’t matter how ‘positive’ the movie is in other regards, this is plain disgusting and just shows the contempt that these movie makers have for Black women. They expect us to automatically support with our dollars anything that degrades or just plain erases us from reality. It’s a joke. Once again, Hollywood, gets the chance to put out a movie that tells the world (and it WILL be in worldwide distribution) that Black men value anyone and everyone other than Black women. If I were a black women who cares about her image, I would boycott this and advise other black women to do the same.


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