HOLLYWOOD: Need More Heroes

George Lucas goes in on Hollywood about the lack of support for films on Blacks, but action films? Really?

Words: Aimstar

George Lucas said it best, when he recently appeared on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote his new film, Red Tails… When it comes to Hollywood, it’s all about green. While I commend the Star Wars creator for taking on Hollywood (Lucas is part of an elite group that really doesn’t need Hollywood’s hard-won cash anymore truthfully), why did it take him saying what most already know for everyone to listen? Unfortunately, this subject is all too familiar to people of color, who in their own journeys to create films that document the lives of people who look like them, have seen one too many major studio doors slam when they sought them for backing, finance or distribution. It’s the reason why we eventually make movies via our own networks (family, friends, community) and write you off Hollywood. Yes, George, we know it’s always about the green and that it has long been a case of Black vs White, Latino vs White, Asian vs. White, and the list goes on. But what’s the resolution? Is Hollywood prepared to fix this issue now, because we need more heroes.

I agree with Lucas; we always need to support great film projects like his current opus that stars a full Black cast on the subject of the revered (at least the African-American community is aware of them) Tuskegee airmen because as Lucas put it so eloquently, “They are real American heroes.” We should always get our bodies into those seats at movie theaters and support those DVDs when they come out to show that there is a viable audience for these types of films (read: films that star people of color in non-stereotypical or less-than/victim roles).

I remember going to see The Joy Luck Club back in the day because I heard it was a great film. It was a story about several generations of women, how they maneuvered within the family and with each other through various times of trial and triumph. Even though the women in the film were all of Asian descent, which I am not, I could put aside that one divergent attribute to really get into the story line. And the critics were right, the film was phenomenal (it’s actually one of my favorites till this day). Now take that experience and remove the idea that one can relate, understand or empathize with those others who don’t look like them. That, essentially, is what Hollywood is saying to filmmakers every time a film like Red Tails, The Joy Luck Club, The Motorcycle Diaries or She’s Gotta Have It can’t get made. Paraphrased: “Only your people may want to see this film, and we don’t think your people will drive sales.” So question for Hollywood, why don’t you think this same way when your films star an all-White cast?

Without sounding like the angry Black woman here, I’m going to try to stay on subject as best as I can, specifically Lucas’ observations and testimony as to how Hollywood blackballed him about his “Black” action film. He admittedly and clearly articulated the lack of interest in action films that star Blacks by Hollywood gatekeepers, and how they believe a market for such films does not exist. Dare I bring up Will Smith and Denzel Washington, two $20-30 million-per-movie Black actors, who consistently pack houses and keep your points of sale out of the red? I can bring up Sam Jackson, Don Cheadle, Cuba Gooding Jr, Wesley Snipes, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Martin Lawrence, Danny Glover, Eddie Murphy and others if I have to as well. Did they not help to bring in the megabucks you so desperately need in California?

One thing is clear, at least for me; until Hollywood gets its act together, there will only be a one-sided view of what the world truly is. And since I don’t live in fantasy, I will continue to support those projects by those filmmakers who do get it right, who do want to see a full world in all of its majestic colors, shapes and ideologies because that is true art. Anything less would simply be uncivilized.

And for STARK readers: Show Hollywood that they are absolutely wrong. Invest your hard-earned money by supporting films like Pariah, Red Tails and others this January. Thank you Jon Stewart and George Lucas.

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