George Lucas's Red Tails

Why Red Tails is NOT a Black Movie

George Lucas's Red Tails

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.

Update 3/7/2013: (The 2nd edition of  What I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Hollywood available now exclusively on Kindle for only $4.99. Get yours now. Click here. Kindle e-books can be read on I-phone, I-pod, I-pad, Android, Mac and PC with the free Kindle App.)

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  1. Thank you so much for bring it down. I have been thinking about it the same way. I kept thinking that this was more than a black film. This was a film that tells a part of our American History that has been hidden for a long time. I sometimes wish people could go beyond the color and look into the story itself.

    • @Roque–That’s what I’m hoping for. I think there are many stories that need to be told that way. I don’t see anything different between this and other films that shed light on forgotten parts of history. I find it really sad that Hollywood pretends it doesn’t know how to market films like this. If they’d put the money behind the film and send the actors out–like Will Smith does in other countries and like Jackie Chan did here before he started releasing his big movies in America, they would do fine in other countries. Friday night, when I went to see it, we were eating at California Pizza Kitchen and we told the waitress we were in a rush to catch a film. She asked what we were seeing. I told her and she had a look of confusion until I said it was the new George Lucas movie. Then she said, “Oh, I saw an interview about that on TV–took a lot of years to make or something.” As much as people were talking about this film on FB, I’m not sure it had broad advertising other than on Bball games and sports channels. Interesting. I guess males is the core audience, but still, why wouldn’t it be advertised as wide as possible?

  2. I overstand the plight of what these heroes have been through and the overall overcoming adversity of what these heroes had to endure. They have these hollywood black actors and actresses promoting this film and encouraging the masses to go and see this film that a director who is of european descent. My question is why Spike Lee Joint or any other director that is of Afrikan descent haven’t directed this film? Why are these hollywood black actors do not support the hollywood black directors like they support these white directors?

    • @Tshaka–Actually it was directed by a black director–Anthony Hemingway. Lucas was the producer–not director. It was also written by three black writers–the amazing John Ridley, who wrote Three Kings (one of my top 10) and Undercover Brother and tons of other stuff; and the hilarious Aaron McGruder of Boondocks fame–you can hear every single McGruder joke if you’re a fan of Boondocks; and Jon Holway who wrote the book. I learned that Lucas is married to a black woman (didn’t know that until my daughter told me), but I gave Lucas his props when he put the first black man in space that didn’t immediately get killed–Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). The big challenge was getting it produced and released. But to answer your question, there was a black director.

    • @Rodney–Thanks, my man. Good to hear from you. Thanks for checking out the site. Hope all is well.

  3. Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews

    I agree. My husband and I saw it yesterday. We have made a committment that to ensure that the youth in our Church and those that we mentor see this movie as affirmation that we must continue to believe in ourselves. I am pleased to report that here in Alabama, from numerous reports, an overwhelming number of Whites are going to see it. I will see it again. This one is one for the archives.

    • @Sheryl–Excellent. I’m really glad to hear that–especially there in the south.

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