So this morning a friend of mine forwards me this e-mail that's been going around:
"I am writing regarding the new movie Red Tails. This movie was 23 years in the making. George Lucas (Star Wars) wrote the movie with the Tuskegee Airmen. When he started writing the movie there were 42 men alive, now there are only 7. He said their stories were so compelling he did not want to leave anything out. There are 3 movies. This is the first all black film. He is using his own money, because the big companies will not finance an all black film. If the movie does not do well the first weekend, we will never see the other two! The movie comes out Jan 20 Friday! Please make a date with someone and see it the first weekend! Please forward this email to everyone you know, so we can support this movie!"
Here we go again. Asides from the fact that Red Tails is definitely not the "first all black film" (has this guy been living in a barn???), this is it yet another example of what I call "castor oil" movies that black filmgoers are commanded to go see as sense of duty and obligation.
As I wrote in S & A back in June (HERE) there's always this pressure that: "We-must-support-this-movie-even-though-it'll-be-as-dry-as-toast-and-even-less-entertaining-because-it-is-a-positive-movie-that-will-uplift-the-race-and-if-it-fails-then-they-won't-make-any-more-movies-like-this-anymore.
The simple fact, and I've said this several times before, is that NO ONE sees a film out of duty or obligation. People see a movie because they WANT to.
People went in droves to see The Devil Inside last weekend despite horrible word of mouth and terrible reviews because they wanted to.
When Tambay asked a few weeks ago what films people were most anxious to see in 2012, films like The Hunger Games, Django Unchanged, Prometheus and The Hobbit were named by all the commenters. I can't really recall anyone saying Red Tails.
And from what I've always seen, even the most ardent "castor oil" supporters encouraging people to go out and see the films never even watch the films themselves. They always seem to find some sort of excuse.
Also, the fact that people are sending out e-mails like this, and trying very hard to convince people to see it means that even they know that there isn't a lot of enthusiam for the film itself. And I absolutely resent this idea that the future of black cinema lives or dies because of one film. I mean seriously?
How many times have we heard that in the past? If Red Tails tanks (which I suspect it will – I've seen it) believe me, black cinema will still be around, epecially in the independent film world, where it's always thrived. It's been around since the silent film era, and it's definitely not on its death bed.
You're just not going to see another film about the Tuskegee Airmen; but there are SO many other stories to tell.