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Hollywood Says Only White People Can Save Us

Paramount Pictures
Hilary Swank and students in "Freedom Writers." Seriously, the writer asks, are African Americans as helpless and naive as these characterizations portray them?

It seems one of the most powerful notions in Hollywood is that black people can't do anything for themselves. I'm sorry; I just have trouble understanding why nearly every movie about African Americans portrays us as having a weakness only white people can help us overcome. It's starting to be a bit annoying, not to mention redundant. I'm sure we have all seen the preview that sounds something like this:

Kai Beasley
Announcer: "In a world where people of color from the inner city act like blatant stereotypes, one woman understood how to touch them better than they understood how to touch themselves. When no one else cared, there was one white woman who was willing to give them a chance. Michelle Pfeiffer in . . . "Dangerous Minds."

Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank is starring in a similar film. Maybe you've seen the preview. It sounds something like this:

Announcer: "From the producers of all those other movies where white people are the only people who can save poor ethnic kids comes the same freakin' story that you've seen over and over. When a bunch of unruly ethnic kids don't want to listen to anyone, a random white woman is able to reach them. This time, it's for real. This time, it's for the future. This time . . . It's not Michelle Pfeiffer. Hillary Swank in . . . "Freedom Writers ."

I mean, COME ON! African Americans don't need white actors to help them do stuff. So what if Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise helped me write this article; that's the exception, not the rule. So what if John Travolta helps me dress myself every morning, it can just as easily be Samuel L. Jackson. The fact that I can't eat breakfast in the morning without being spoon-fed by Bruce Willis means nothing; Jamie Foxx can spoon-feed me anytime.

But seriously, are we as helpless and naive as our characterizations in film portray us? No! Do white people really care about our problems as much as they do in films? No! That's the reason things are they way they are. If people cared as much as they do in the movies, there wouldn't be any more movies like that, because society would have changed. But what really grinds my gears is that few movies give black people credit for the things we do for ourselves. In fact, the only thing they do give us credit for being good at is drug dealin', rappin' or pimpin'. Now I don't know about you all, but I stopped pimpin' a long time ago, and I would like to think that I have moved on to better things.

I just saw Edward Zwick's "masterpiece," "Blood Diamond." If you haven't heard, everyone in America has been raving about how wonderful this picture is, and if you see it, you'll see why. There really is no more originality left in the movies, or at least, no one is looking for any. If you haven't seen the preview, you have been living under a rock. But luckily, I happen to have a copy right here:

Announcer: "In a world where Africans have been exploited by whites and capitalism (TRUE), one white guy would find the light and see the error of his ways (FALSE). From the director who brought you other films about white people who sacrifice their lives for other races because it's the "right thing to do," comes a nowhere-near-true story of a greed-driven white man's struggle to find himself by helping an African save his family, proving that deep down inside, the relationship between Africans and whites is totally kosher. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and some African guy who is in a lot of movies but we won't bother to say his name in the preview, in . . . "Blood Diamond."

Wow, Edward Zwick. It's important to note some of Mr. Zwick's other films. Two others that come to mind are "Glory," where during the Civil War, Matthew Broderick dies for his black infantry unit for the sake of equality (fact, Broderick's character actually did that), and "The Last Samurai," where Tom Cruise randomly becomes a samurai and almost dies for the sake of Japanese tradition (little-known fact: Cruise is actually Japanese). What!?!?!? I wouldn't even do that (Little-known fact, I'm not Japanese at all)!

The point is this: Dude, people are perfectly capable of dealing with their own problems, and when they can't, they aren't saved by a bunch of white people who suddenly see what's wrong with the world. They are either saved by the World Bank in exchange for their souls, governments that have special interests in the area that they're saving, or white people with rich parents who are afraid to fail at life, so they protest everything, so that they never have to actually do anything. So Ed, STOP IT! Stop making movies like that! Or I will be forced to make that movie I've wanted to make for quite some time now:

Announcer: "In a world where Edward Zwick couldn't stop making stupid movies, one man dared to point his finger and laugh hysterically. From the man who clearly has a grasp of the actual relationship between whites and everyone else comes the tale of Kai Beasley, the columnist who dared to write articles about stuff. This summer, words will be written. Kai Beasley is Kai Beasley in "Dude, What the Hell?" A Kai Beasley Film."

Kai Beasley is a senior at Emory University who writes a weekly column for the Villanovan at Villanova University. To comment, e-mail [email protected]

Posted Jan. 15, 2007

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