There’s been a lot of reporting lately about the importance of George Lucas’s new movie Red Tails for the Black community. The argument goes like this: If people don’t go see Red Tails, Hollywood will never fund higher budget black movies again. Although the basic altruism of White people might be moved by this argument, it is primarily an argument to the Black community to get behind this movie. But it is the wrong argument and not the thing Hollywood is looking for. For a movie of this budget to succeed, this movie must draw Blacks AND Whites… Latinos, Asians and every other race, too. So how does this argument work for them? It doesn’t. All people care about is whether a movie is good—does it move us, does it entertain…is it worth the price of admission? The right argument for why people should see Red Tails is because it’s a great movie that talks about an important part of American History that has been hidden from them for some reason. Why did they hide this? What happened?
Think about it this way: People went to see National Treasure and DaVinci Code because they were stories that argued that there COULD be some hidden history that was kept hidden by a secret cabal. Here is a film about something that actually IS hidden history—that actually has been KEPT HIDDEN from American citizens for some reason. The things that happened in this film are real–the real story of real people. This isn’t some novelist’s speculating. It is reality.
Seeing as I’ve just returned from viewing the movie last night, I want to make a second argument that I think works for everyone. Red Tails is not a black movie. Red Tails is an action film by George Lucas—the best and most successful action movie producer in the history of the planet earth according to Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
And here’s a third great reason that was suggested to me by my daughter: This movie is about real heroes. It doesn’t glamorize or sugarcoat war and it doesn’t show superhumans fighting alien machines. It is real people fighting a real war—real human heroes fighting against very strong odds, with consequences dire for our real world.
Think about this: Every movie hitting the theaters today seems to paint heroes as supernaturally gifted—from vampires, wizards, witches, warlocks and werewolves worshipped by our kids to mutants and dozens of other miraculous flying, radiating, flaming, costumed millionaires. There aren’t very many films showing real young men struggling to be courageous. There aren’t many films that tell your child—be he or she black, white, yellow or brown that heroism is within them. There are a lot of fantasy films that tell your child that there are magical people in the world who can solve all the world’s problems. But there aren’t many that tell them they have all they need inside of themselves and that courage, loyalty, tenacity, and faith are qualities God instilled in all men. Red Tails does this. Do you want your child believing they have to be magically bitten by radioactive bugs, exposed to chemicals, born the magical wizard, or strangely mutated to be heroic—to be the hero in their own lives or in the world?
Red Tails is a film about everyday underdogs overcoming internal, external and societal obstacles to become heroes. And that’s why everyone should see this film.
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