Originally Posted @ We Are Respectable Negroes — While we wait for the epic sonning that Tom Brady, the Hooded One, and Josh McDaniels are about to put on Mr. Tebow this evening (that trio sounds like a country rock group, no?) here is something to pass the time.

There is a good conversation on Clutch magazine’s website about the interracial gender politics of Red Tails, George Lucas’upcoming Tuskegee airmen movie. One of the primary tenets for those who study the politics of popular culture is that audiences (or “publics”) receive, process, interpret, and circulate ideas on their own terms. Of course, there aren’t any number of corollaries and complications to this argument. But, the basic idea is that populism “matters”; once a “text” is out among the public, part of our work as critics is understanding the “why’s” and “how’s” of their investment (or not) in it.

I reviewed Red Tails months ago. There, I made mention of one aspect of the story–the romance between a black airman and a white Italian woman–that I thought was superfluous to the plot and could easily be left on the cutting room floor. I did not read this plot point as subverting the overall story, or as being deeply symbolic of the state of the family and love relationships in the African American community in the twenty-first century. Moreover, there were many love and sexual relationships between black GI’s and European women in all theaters of World War Two. Given the “historical” nature of Red Tails, a wink to this fact would not be out of order. Ultimately, my observation was based on efficiency in story telling. It was not some deep aversion to the idea that a young man far from home would find comfort in the arms of a beautiful woman.

Populism can be empowering. It can also be confusing, distracting, and lead to any number of interpretations–some of these are cogent and compelling, others much less so. What strikes me the most about the comments on Clutch magazine’s site is not how some readers (in a vacuum not having seen the movie) are making impassioned claims, but how short the leap is from Red Tails the World War Two action film, to “black women in Hollywood are misrepresented all of the time and hated by the mass media,” to “black woman are unloved by black men and Red Tails reinforces this fact,” to “Red Tails should be boycotted because there are no black female love interests.”

It would seem that there is much pain in parts of the black community, where the seemingly trivial and benign are interpreted as the significant, the poignant, and the meaningful.Thus, I must ask: Are matters really this dire?

Originally Posted @ We Are Respectable Negroes

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  • mina

    Wow this just sounds like the same old “keep them divided” ideology! I have not seen a screening of this movie and therefore can’t critique it. Though from what some of you all are saying, it sounds like the relationship with the European woman was brief but also a bit random, idk. Even if it is insignificant and should not have made the cut, the movie is about “The Tuskegee Airmen” not the Tuskegee Airwomen, PERIOD!!!

    • AJ

      Again, Mina. Read through the posts. Nobody is asking for the Tuskeege Airwomen. sheesh! Reading is F*cking Fundamental people! smdh

  • Kanyade

    Black women should not boycott this film. ESPECIALLY Black women who like war movies with both ground and aerial attacks!

    I can tell you that sometimes with the action flicks I love, once the ‘romance’ angle is introduced, it sort of sullies everything for me. Case & point: “Thor”, Natalie Portman’s character and Thor or in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones”, the whole romance injection with Anakin and Padme was just ugh, no, no, no.

    This is a fictionalized version of real happenings. It is up to the director/writer’s discretion to add to or take from or exclude altogether as it is their interpretation. I’m sure there was/is a time-limit which would affect how much of whose story to include. There were how many airmen? A good amount, so to go into depth with each of their family-life stories in addition to the other challenges they had to face and overcome would’ve made for a mini-series…. Which now thinking on it, perhaps the feature should’ve been a mini-series. I digress.

    I’m not boycotting this film. There was an cable film done years back with Laurence Fishburne. I don’t recall a boycott in place for that feature—but perhaps Black women were represented? I don’t know. Even so, at the heart of it all it was a film about a select group of soldiers who overcame and ultimately triumphed, romantic relationship notwithstanding. I wanna see action; and at minimum given Lucas’ film-vitae, the man can do action…even if his storytelling does falter some (re: Attack of the Clones).

    Also, how many women boycotted “Fast & Furious Five”??? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?

    • AJ

      The Fast and the Furious was not history. They wrote you out of history in Red Tails. That’s like making George Washington Black.

  • Jane

    boy o boy our issues run deep.

    ladies and gentlemen, the day will come when we will have more than one movie option at a time. Enjoy your life people, go see the flick with friends, eat dinner afterwards, get a drink, discuss and enjoy. Don’t see the movie, do something else. Just enjoy your experiences.

  • Alexandra

    I noticed on this site, there is a habit of judging films severely before they even come out.

    I’ve read a few of the arguments for and against seeing this movie, however I will not go ‘Red Tails’; but not because of the ‘concerns’ of the Black female blogosphere; I can’t bring myself to be upset over the casting. Don’t think this means, I’ve accepted the way Black women are portrayed in films.

    I won’t see it, simply because I don’t go to the movies period, unless I’m really, really, really, interested in the film/subject. I think this overreaction based on a short snippet of light complected woman in the trailer is very telling. I won’t call names. I may support the film later, by purchasing the dvd.

    I’m not boycotting a damn thing. There are so many more (and important) things Black women could boycott and this….

    • Sula

      After putting myself through hell watching J. Edgar(internet of course), I seriously can not sit through any biopic or historical film unless it’s a documentary. I don’t get why people keep begging for them like they’re something special. They usually follow the same crappy predictable plot formula and

      Plus, the poster for it, makes it look like another corny ass hollywood film.

    • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

      Are you aware that people have seen the movie? I mean it has been mentioned so many times in the comments.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    Black american women are haters and hypocrits man. They don’t want american black men to not get no love while they cavort around with white men.

    How do you yanks say it?

    haters gon hate.

    kiss teet.