Quite simple: Cause if it’s true then it can’t be racist. It’s JUST true, dammit. Does that logic make any sense to you? It shouldn’t because it is wholly illogical. Let me tell you something: Things that are true, or what folks actually mean, “accurate” can ABSOLUTELY be racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist, or whatever.
If that’s not enough commonsense, remember that Hollywood logic defines “true story” very differently from how many of us define it. Movies are about story and dramatic tension and dramatic license. I mean, seriously, if Hollywood were to make a movie about my life they would completely omit all the moments I sit on my couch eating a bowl of Fruit Loops and watching The View. It would omit the moments where I’m in the car in the midst of ridiculous ass Mopac traffic trying to listen to Terry Gross on NPR and calm my damn nerves before I hit the woman who decided to eat her cheeseburger rather than drive..ahem, digression. Anyway, the point is that while all those moments are TRUE, they’re not that interesting frankly–well, if I got out of the car and knocked on that woman’s window and told her I was gonna to physically accost her if she didn’t put that damn hamburger down, then it might’ve been a little bit interesting but that’s not the point. So, what does Hollywood logic suggest: make it more interesting! Add fireworks, add extra characters, make Whoopi jump out the teevee screen and jump into my living room encouraging me to finish my dissertation so I can replace her as moderator on the show (that’s my dream). Hollywood films play fast and hard with the truth as a means of filmmaking and necessity.
I wouldn’t be mad about that except for the fact that many folks somehow adopt that system and change their own damn minds about what “true story” means. Or, worse, use the “true story” as a way of avoiding having a conversation about race. Let me tell y’all: this BW will not avoid that conversation. What am I so on fire about?
Well, this damn movie:
First, I know everybody and their grammy loves this movie. I saw it. It’s entertaining, it’s “feel-good” but it is also hellified problematic. And the true story thing is the crux of the problem. Because it’s a true story, so many things are allowed to be overlooked and diminshed. Again, true stories are played with all the time. Don’t believe me? Look no further than this:
- This horrible movie (that I only enjoyed after having a couple glasses o’wine) was written by a black man named Kenneth Rance nd is based on a TRUE STORY about a black woman who moved to a little, tiny arse town in Minnesota (and, no it was not Twin Cities where Prince lives…that’s different). And yet, the true story was played with a litle bit: they just threw that black pt out and threw white Renee Zelwegger in. According to the writer, the film wouldn’t have been made with a black actress. Hmm..well. And, why not? According to Rance: “I remember a while back in early 2000 showing it to my agent and he said ‘Ken, this is a great script, I can’t sell it,’” Rance recalled. “Why? It’s just too difficult to sell a film with an African-American female lead.” Want more?
“I set out to write a movie about a woman from a big city, who comes to a small town, has conflict at a plant, falls in love with a blue-collar guy, the type of guy she wouldn’t give the time of day to. Oh, and by the way, she just happens to be black,” Rance told BlackAmericaWeb. “I think because the screenplay wasn’t about her being black, so to say, that it was very easy for the studio to make, in essence, a bigger picture, a more global picture, by removing her ethnicity, making her white, bringing on Renee Zellweger, Oscar Award-winning actress, and being able to distribute this film worldwide, as opposed to going with Gabrielle Union.”
Aha! So Hollywood logic works to adapt the truth for worldwide audiences. Changing the lead actress from Gabby “she might be a ho” Union to Renee “chubby cheeks” Zellweger (removing ethnicity) also broadens the audience making it “a bigger, more global picture.” That’s interesting, ain’t it? You know it is. Dammit.
So, now, why is this important to The Blind Side? Cause since the white lady is already the main character and since the adopted black son Michael has such a bright future ahead of him (that whole trope thing is for another blog post), they don’t have to “change” anything. Well, not really. They just “accent” certain things. Sigggggggggghs. And, most importantly, because it’s “true” they’ve already diffused any real critique. It’s not about race; it’s about love. It’s about a wealthy Southern family who happens to be white and a poor, struggling but perfectly built for left tackling manchild who happens to be black. Well, I happen to have a bridge in Miami to sell you if you accept that as true. Come ON! Noone HAPPENS to be anything. You didn’t wake up and happen to lose your hair; you don’t sit down and happen to give birth (unless you’re those dumbass ladies on that dumbass Discovery channel show in which case I need you to see a mental health professional). You don’t HAPPEN to be black, white, Latino, Asian, or an alien. It is who YOU ARE. ::Calms down and drinks a little more apple juice::
So, when Sandra “Sandy” Bullock goes on BM and representative to all us BF Tavis Smiley’s show and when he asks her why she (and Hollywood) continue to make movies that feature white women saving negroes and he takes away her “true story” defense (I coulda kissed him..even though I’m not attracted to him..at ALL) and she says this foolywang, I wanted to calmly take her to a classroom and write all over the chalkboard:
Thoughts to ponder as I stomp off in anger:
1. You you don’t know why you made another movie (or helped Hollywood make another movie) about “white folks saving negroes”?
2. You’re gonna seriously compare it to women in the bathroom trying to figure out why there are no movies about women? White women, in particular I think you mean? Seriously?
3. You didn’t look at it as a black/white issue? You looked at it as a story about if you can take someone off the street?”
4. Finally, why are we so quick to question love (in the case of the film’s family relationship?)?
I’ve answered the first three above. As far as that fourth very interesting point, all I have to say is, well, Sandy, after centuries of racial genocide…nope, nope, I’m going to leave it alone while I’m still ahead. In short, it’s not Sandy who’s the problem but it’s the larger ideals that Sandy is drawing from. It’s that damned Hollywood logic rearing its ugly, greedy, racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist head.
Source to Rance interview here.