North Texas Daily

Hollywood has a “White Guilt” problem

Hollywood has a “White Guilt” problem

Hollywood has a “White Guilt” problem
June 20
18:00 2020

With protests against police brutality and racial injustice going on every day, there has been a major spike in movies streamed that heavily emphasize the representation of people of color. Since the Academy is biased towards the type of movies they nominate yearly, it is good that filmmakers that deserve recognition are getting just that. Throughout the years, many movies have fallen under the “white savior” trope, where a person of color is dealing with a great sense of injustice, and a white person, usually a man, comes in to save the day. Movies that fall under this category like “Green Book” “The Help” and “Hidden Figures,” take away any sense of representation by making the emphasis of the movie all about the white man that “saved” them.

These movies hurt Hollywood. We live in a time where an industry that has been dominated by white men is finally starting to diversify. There is still a heavy bias towards what movies get nominated by the Academy, with six of the nine nominees in the  Best Picture category last year being movies about white men. “The Help” is Netflix’s most-streamed movie right now, which was made to be an uplifting story about putting our differences aside regardless of color. What the movie ends up being is a formulaic, insensitive and safe movie about how white people become aware of systemic racism. I say safe because the movie tries its best to appeal to everyone to keeps the general audience happy. The new trend is making a movie, pretending to be “woke” when in reality, these “white savior” movies are only adding fuel to the fire.

In 2019, “Green Book” took home a very undeserving Best Picture win at the Oscars. This is another movie about how a white man and a black man put their differences aside and become friends. I am not sure if movies like these are supposed to make people feel good about themselves or not, but they often miss the point entirely. To stay on the topic of the 2019 Oscars, the Spike Lee film, “BlacKkKlansman,” a beautifully crafted movie taking place in the 1970s, shows the parallels between how racial injustice was back then and how it is still happening today almost 50 years later. The Academy, doing what they do best, picked the safer movie to win to make them look “aware.”

Movies are still the most influential pieces of media and pushing the “white savior” message is not going to get anyone anywhere. Steering away from the truth and changing history in the way that makes everyone happy is not the way to give representation. Directors like Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, Ava DuVernay, Ryan Coogler and Melina Matsoukas are making films that should be watched right now, not “white savior” movies that shy away from what is actually happening in America today.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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