- Jurassic Park
- Wrath of Khan
- Damnation Alley
- Magnum Force
- Sudden Impact
- The Unforgiven
- Freddy Versus Jason
- Ice Station Zebra
- Dirty Dozen
- The Shining
- The Green Mile
- Night of the living Dead
- Terminator 2
- Conan the Destroyer
- Return of the living dead
What is the connecting thread between all of the above movies?
Well, there may be several, but one is that in every one of them, all the black people, or all the black male characters (people with at least one line of dialogue) die. (Note: it is the pattern I hate, not necessarily the individual films. Some of them I flat-out love. But the fact remains that there isn’t a single American film in which all the white characters die while non-white characters survive.
Not a single one.
There are some Asian films where this happens, like Bruce Lee’s “The Chinese Connection” where Bob Baker plays a Russian Lee kills with a chop to the throat. Only white guy in the movie. Chinese feeling mighty antagonistic toward Japanese and Russians in that movie. Hmmm…you couldn’t think that killing all the members of a group is symptomatic of antagonism and fear, could you?
Naw. Couldn’t be.
But you do have to wonder why it’s never happened in reverse. Not once. Couldn’t be because they FEEL that this would be anathema, could it? That it would doom the success of the film? That THEY wouldn’t want to see something like that..?
Nah. Couldn’t be.
I got an email today from a guy who was apparently disturbed that on a “Writing Excuses” podcast I listed “The Green Mile” as a movie I loathe and will never watch again. On the other hand, I thought the BOOK (published in chunks) was actually quite fine. What was the difference?
In the book, the Tom Hanks guard character THINKS that John Coffey is innocent, and tries to free him. Fails. It is tragic, and the book’s title “The Green Mile” is a metaphor for life itself. Coffey dies, as do we all.
But in the movie, Tom Hanks KNOWS that Coffey is innocent (gets a psychic vision of exactly what happened) and does NOTHING to try to save him. Has one conversation (“what should I do, John”) with a severely depressed man who just wants to die, and accepts that life is just too hard, too cruel, for such a perfect spirit…sob sob.
Apparently, the gentleman who wrote me disliked the fact that I didn’t find this inspiring. That no, if he is the only black man on the screen, he isn’t a symbol, he is a human being wrongly accused, arrested, convicted, and executed by white people. A human being who is black, as the culture defines me. The only one.
And while this may provide some kind of epiphany for white audiences, it is just another in a long, long series of images that make us other than human. Less than human (I just recently had to ask another racist not to comment on racial threads) or more than human…it doesn’t matter, because what is clear is that in the minds and hearts of the audience and the filmmakers, we aren’t like them.
And that is lethal. It justifies violence and oppression. On the other hand it triggers guilt and overreaction, which leads to resentment, which leads to anger, and back to violence and oppression we go. Put us down in a ditch or up on a pedestal and the result is the same.
So no, I don’t consider being a Sacrificial Negro, or a Spiritual Guide to be a good thing. Dying to protect or uplift white people is not my idea of a good time. All of this crap is part of the same Matrix of false beliefs that was necessary to build a nation, and justify what was done, but stands between us and a healthy future. I won’t be silent about these things–they cost lives.
Still like “Aliens” though.