Okay let me give a bit of backstory on the happenings surrounding this WTF moment. There’s this film (that is much about nothing) that played tonight at the Gene Siskel film center and my friend asked me to tag along, and I complied. So we get to the theater and are watching this film (that is mediocre at best) when there’s a scene where a white couple is chatting away with their friends, fun stuff right? Okay, one of the friends asks to hold the couple’s kid and they of course oblige and laugh when the boy starts to crawl down the holder’s leg like what—right, a MONKEY! So then one of the actors says, “He looks just like a monkey.” And at that moment, the director of the film who also played the kid’s father said the statement of the freakin’ century that there’s no way he could be mistaken as such because his skin wasn’t black. (But aren’t monkeys hair brown?)
What is so frustrating about situations like this when artists take certain liberties without adding some cushion around these ethnic sensitivities so readers or viewers are clear that these aren’t views of the creator, but a statement that he or she is trying to make about what’s still wrong in the world today. And it’s doubly offensive to viewers like me and my friend when artists like the one tonight try to switch the focus from him being an ass and not working to develop his character to the point that when I heard this remark that it would be clear to me that ‘of course this guy would talk like this,’ but instead after being confronted by my friend the director informed her that there’s racist remarks in all of his films because he hates ‘that stuff so much.’ Bullshit. It’s so surprising that he wants take up the cross of racial stereotypes and bear them for all black people, but my reaction to this scene would have been totally different if the other characters in the scene would have showed some inkling of disagreement that would have revealed something about this guy’s character (which I told him).
It’s always a fun time when you’re like two black girls encased in a circle of white people and they’re all looking at you like you have the problem. A simple question of my friend asking the filmmaker his reasoning for dropping such a statement in his film without making it clear that this is showing how politically incorrect this guy was, turned into him trying to beseech us—his brethren on how this statement was really included for our benefit and not detriment. Again, WTF! What this filmmaker (and others) doesn’t understand is that blacks and other ethnic groups take offensive when there isn’t a clear reason why racially charged language is used. As a writer, I’m all for self-expression, but I also believe that as an artist I too must be accountable for the work I produce for the world to hold in its hand and critique, like, love and hate. So after this whole fiasco maybe the director will take into consideration that maybe there’ll be someone like me in the audience and maybe be more responsible in bringing these things to light that ‘millionaires still say’. I can’t hope for any miracles, but just maybe.
Listening to: Adele “Daydreamer”