Alright folks… a little challenge to keep you all busy on a relatively slow news day.
But also in light of the entire Paula Deen fiasco, the ongoing Trayvon Martin shooting court case/George Zimmerman trial, all of which (and more) have me thinking about race in America today – as well as the widely-held notion that Americans, collectively, don’t like to/want to talk honestly and frankly about race, even though that may be exactly what America needs.
So here’s the challenge: Is the above notion also applicable in movies? As we do in real life, do we also avoid dealing head-on with race at the cinema? What I want to do is come up with a list of contemporary films – let’s say films made in the last 23 years, going back to 1990 – financed and distributed by Hollywood studios, that specifically tackle race/racism in the present-day, in the USA, that are not set in the historical past, and aren’t told from the perspective of a white protagonist.
Got it? Make sense?
Let me itemize the criteria:
1 – First, the films must have been backed by a Hollywood studio. NOT independent films.
2 – They must have been released in the last 23 years – so anything after 1990.
3 – They should be set in the present-day – so, tackling race/racism as it exists today, because, as I think you’d notice, the burden of race is most often contained in the historical past, keeping the matter of race/racism in the past tense, as if to say that it no longer exists today, since we’re supposedly “post-racial”.
4 – The story isn’t told from or centered on a white protagonist – essentially told from a black person’s POV.
Again, the issue of race/racism has to be central to the film’s plot; not relegated to a scene, or a minor subplot. Although I’d also add that the films don’t have to be literal; they can be metaphoric, or allegorical. But, if you go down that path, be sure you can support your suggestions well, convincing us on what you feel makes them racial metaphors or allegories.
So, have at it, and let’s see what you can come up with…