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

347 Comments

  1. Pilot

    Well, I saw the movie yesterday during a screening preview I was invited to by someone else in the industry. It looks like all this sound and fury about black women boycotting the movie is going to be academic, because I think the public at large will be boycotting the movie because it’s just sort of average.

    My mini-review is that the action scenes are good, the film has some great moments, but it’s clunky in how it moves along, and the writing is just awful, IMHO.

    It’s a shame, really. Great subject material, but the telling of the story is lacking.

    So, to all of those people worried about George Lucas making millions of dollars from “Red Tails” without giving black women their due, I think your concerns are overblown – I would be surprised if he doesn’t lose millions and millions of dollars on the movie.

    Signing off for now…

  2. Teach nj

    I am WAAAAY more upset about the fact that one of these heroes was brutally murdered by two young men IN HIS OWN HOME than I am about the portrayal of interracial relations or inaccuracies!!! We are at epidemic levels of violence against our own kind and we now rally against the most UNIMPORTANT shit! Where was the outrage when that man was slain for a few $$, a cell phone and his car????

  3. Frenchie

    I agree with this post entirely. I think the only thing left to add is:

    Dear Black Women:
    Sometimes it’s not about you. There is nothing wrong with that.
    Signed, A Black Woman”

    • And if you think that is what BW are saying, then you’re a fool.

    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      Isn’t that part of the problem? It is never about black women, always about black women doing things to benefit a group of people that seem hard pressed to ever return the favor.

    • If it’s not about me and other black women then why are you so damn pressed? Why are you shoving this down our throats to go see a movie which we aren’t even in? You’re like little babies, kicking and screaming and if that doesn’t work you come up with lies and shame tactics like the one about how we are against the IR relationship between the black man and the white woman. It’s like, wow. I don’t care about those things.
      What I care about is people in one breath saying “this isn’t even about you” and in the other “But if you don’t go see it, you’re a hater”.

      Seriously. Enough.

  4. nappyandhappy

    OMG!!!!!!! it is just a movie i will go to this movie cause i like being entertained but i will also donate money to Issa Rae to put out a second season of ABG in order to even it out.

    how about we do that? for everyone who wants to boycott redtails put your money where your mouth is and give that ticket money, parking money and popcorn money to Isssa Rae #problemsolved.

    God if these comments are for one white woman im afraid to see what ya’ll are gonna do when Django Unchained comes out!!!! When yall start boycotting that let me know cause that movie really does sounds bad for black women!!!!!!!

    • “God if these comments are for one white woman im afraid to see what ya’ll are gonna do when Django Unchained comes out!!!! ”

      Being that it’s a Quentin Tarantino film, one can only imagine. He can kick up a shitstorm all by himself. Remember, he was taken to task on several occasions for his gratuitous violence as well as his willingness to use the N-word in every damn movie, LMAO!!!

      And his new movie is going to be a comedy about slavery? Yeah, this should be intersting *grabs popcorn*.

    • ruggie

      @nappy & Perv – When that disaster “Django Unchained” comes out, there will be people in Hollywood saying black people better support edgy material if we expect to get more films, smh.

  5. @James:
    I’m not calling for a boycott of the movie, and I don’t think that too many other black women are either. We are just expressing how we feel about the casting. I’m not buying the excuse that there was no room to write in a decent role for at least one black woman, not buying it at all. Whoever wants to go and see the movie, has every right to. In reading the comments, it seems like more black women are supporting the movie than not. So we will see how it does.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      how can you write in a decent role for a black woman when there were no black women in italy at that time?

    • It would have been very easy to include some of the other black Airmen’s wives/girlfriends at homes with a photo taped in the plane (like Sophias), or even have one of them read a letter from home from his wife/girlfriend and have him have a flashback. All very common tropes in war time movies.
      My Great Uncle was a Tuskeegee Airman and his wife was black and held down the homefront and supported him. Im sure that was very common and could have been as easily integrated into the film as the strange change meeting of the Airman and Sophia.

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