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Gina Prince-Bythewood Wants to Eliminate the Term “Black Film”

Gina Prince-Bythewood Wants to Eliminate the Term "Black Film"

When you
think of director Gina Prince-Bythewood, you probably immediately think of the “black films” she’s made. But, if she had her way, she would get rid the term “black film” altogether.

In an interview
yesterday on NPR, Ms. Prince-Bythewood said that the term “marginalizes” a film, in effect giving
it, we could say, second class status. She wishes, instead, for all films, regardless of genre,
to have people of color in them.

But what we
have here, is what is called a slippery slope. It begs the question, what does
she consider her previous films, such as “Love and Basketball,” “The Secret Life of
Bees,” and “Disappearing Acts” and her new film, “Beyond the Lights?” “Black films” or
films that are universal, that speak to everyone?

To play devil’s advocate, I think it’s a bit too easy to say “audiences think black films
are inferior, therefore let’s not call them that anymore, and the problem will be solved.” But is there a problem, in the
first place? And what’s wrong with the term “black film?”

It recalls the times that Idris Elba has said that he’d like to be looked at as just an actor, and not a black actor, and that he wants to make films, not black films, also essentially rejecting the classification. There’s a history of black entertainers, especially in recent years, who’ve echoed similar thoughts on this. 

While one can try to understand the motivation behind this “movement” we can say (in short, to underline the universality of stories about black people), is the real problem the term itself, or those short-sighted, ignorant people who can’t see and appreciate other experiences beyond their own? Shouldn’t we be challenging them to change, as opposed to us having to make the change? And if we are to get rid of the term “black film” or “black actor,” or “black whatever,” does that mean we should also just eliminate the term “black” altogether, which means that a site like Shadow and Act wouldn’t even exist? Are we at a place in society in which these socially constructed labels can be readily wiped out? Are we post-racial yet? 

Do you agree
with Ms. Prince-Bythewood, or not, and why?

Listen to
the interview yourself:

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