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

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    I am not seeing for three reasons:

    - Not really interested in it and neither is my husband
    - I will not support any movie with an abuser, whether he be Terrance Howard, Michael Fassbender or Chris Brown
    - I will no longer support any movie that continues to ignore and eliminate black women. There are 4 men in the movie and they could have had women of all major racial and ethnic groups represented, but they chose not to. Every single war movie I have ever watched has had white women represented as mothers, siblings, wives, girlfriends, etc. But somehow when it comes to a war movie with black actors, they can only have one woman and she must be white?

    I’ll be happily boycotting.

  • Esme

    Oh my…….I don’t know. I just read that jazmine sullivan got cut from the film.

  • LemonNLime

    Don’t be so easily bought

  • jamesfrmphilly

    my understanding is that lucas has three stories out of this. the training took place in the US. there would be black women there. the fighting took place in europe. there would be white women there. the return would be to the US, there would be black women there.

    lucas has released the middle story, the fighting. historically there are no black women involved. as far as i know the brothers all married black women when they got home. some black soldiers had flings with white women while in europe. this is history.

    lucas is showing the historical record. i don’t understand why some black females are upset. i will be going to see the film. i have met with the TA and they have my full respect. they are real black heroes. sad that some black females cannot see this.

    here are real black male role models. why you boycotting sis?

  • sli

    @James:
    Didn’t you say on the ABG post that there’s no such thing as “harmless media?” If that’s your belief, then what are your thoughts on how they cast the female character in “Red Tails.” What message do you think they are trying to send? You often have a lot to say about IR relationships, but seem to be mum about this. I’m not trying to be a smart ass, but I’m honestly interested in your thoughts on this.

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