Originally Posted @ We Are Respectable Negroes — While we wait for the epic sonning that Tom Brady, the Hooded One, and Josh McDaniels are about to put on Mr. Tebow this evening (that trio sounds like a country rock group, no?) here is something to pass the time.

There is a good conversation on Clutch magazine’s website about the interracial gender politics of Red Tails, George Lucas’upcoming Tuskegee airmen movie. One of the primary tenets for those who study the politics of popular culture is that audiences (or “publics”) receive, process, interpret, and circulate ideas on their own terms. Of course, there aren’t any number of corollaries and complications to this argument. But, the basic idea is that populism “matters”; once a “text” is out among the public, part of our work as critics is understanding the “why’s” and “how’s” of their investment (or not) in it.

I reviewed Red Tails months ago. There, I made mention of one aspect of the story–the romance between a black airman and a white Italian woman–that I thought was superfluous to the plot and could easily be left on the cutting room floor. I did not read this plot point as subverting the overall story, or as being deeply symbolic of the state of the family and love relationships in the African American community in the twenty-first century. Moreover, there were many love and sexual relationships between black GI’s and European women in all theaters of World War Two. Given the “historical” nature of Red Tails, a wink to this fact would not be out of order. Ultimately, my observation was based on efficiency in story telling. It was not some deep aversion to the idea that a young man far from home would find comfort in the arms of a beautiful woman.

Populism can be empowering. It can also be confusing, distracting, and lead to any number of interpretations–some of these are cogent and compelling, others much less so. What strikes me the most about the comments on Clutch magazine’s site is not how some readers (in a vacuum not having seen the movie) are making impassioned claims, but how short the leap is from Red Tails the World War Two action film, to “black women in Hollywood are misrepresented all of the time and hated by the mass media,” to “black woman are unloved by black men and Red Tails reinforces this fact,” to “Red Tails should be boycotted because there are no black female love interests.”

It would seem that there is much pain in parts of the black community, where the seemingly trivial and benign are interpreted as the significant, the poignant, and the meaningful.Thus, I must ask: Are matters really this dire?

Originally Posted @ We Are Respectable Negroes


  1. Red Tails is about the lost history about men of color fighter pilots in world war ll, not about black women in a love seen. Why do some us think negative of it is what it is. I am so glad we only have a few who think like the ladywho talked about a man of color pilot have a romance with a white woman.

  2. caleson5

    Well, I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I don’t have a problem with interracial romances being portrayed in a movie. Like many have mentioned, many American soldiers had romances with foreign women during wartime. It was rather common. I haven’t seen Red Tails and I don’t know all the facts concerning the movie. Was the interracial romance in the movie something that happened or just fiction? You have to understand that black men during those times were watched closely and many of them, rather in the armed forces or not, were not allowed to have anything to do with white women. It might have happened in War Word ll some of the time. Many black men might have sneaked away and had romantic relationships with European women. I am not really sure. I just think that it would have been nice if the movie had shown at least one romantic relationship between the soldiers and their black American sweethearts/wives. Once again, this is the 1940’s and I am sure NONE of them had non-black girlfriends/wives at home in America. The Klan would have had a field day with those men if these men openly had non-black sweethearts at home. Especially in the South. These were very attractive, strong, and courageous black men and I am certain they had black female sweethearts who were crazy about them in America. Some of the soldiers probably wrote to their American sweethearts from Europe on a regular basis. So why not show both? The movie could have shown an interracial romance between a soldier and a European women AND a romance between a soldier and his black American sweetheart. What is that so hard? That way you can satisfy everybody!!! And black women would feel more interested in the movie. I am sorry but I don’t think that black women are overreacting. Maybe a little. I don’t think the movie should be boycotted. But if black women find the movie uninteresting because there aren’t any black women in the movie, then that is how they feel. I am sorry but black historical movies are way more interesting to black women when there are actually some black women in the movie!!! And lets be real, there HAD TO HAVE BEEN some attractive black women in the lives of these soldiers. To not show that makes the movie historically inaccurate. So why would anybody want to watch it? especially black women.

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