“Ms. Goetz” Gets a Gun:
The Brave One and Black Male Bashin’
Min. Paul Scott
Peep this scenario. Timid lookin’ white lady sittin’ alone on a dark NY subway when all of a sudden two black dudes who look like they just stepped out of a 50 Cent video come all the way from the back of the train and pull a knife on her for no apparent reason. Little do they know that they are about to go heads up with the psycho chick from hell...
What I have just described is the trailer from the new movie, “The Brave One” which opens in theaters September 14th. The plot of the film, as I understand it from the previews, is Erica Bain (played by Jodi Foster) and her fiance are out walking “Sluggo” when some bad dudes kill the man and kidnap the dog, which drives Foster’s character over the edge and she transform herself into...drum roll please ... “Bad News ” Bain, hardcore vigilante and defender of the defenseless...Dum Dum Dum!!!
“It was one thing to kill my man but when you mess with the dog...Prepare to meet your maker, buster !”
What bothers me about the film is not the plot per se, after all anyone who has the nerve to shoot someone’s significant other and kidnap the pooch deserves a beatdown. But what gets my goat is the not so subtle racial overtones in the previews.
A trailer is supposed to be a lightening quick, 60 second synopsis of a two hour movie so the flash that I got from the Brave One preview was black thugs, Latino gangs and loud creepy music. Now if I missed the scene with drunk, white college frat boys chasing Jodie Foster through a keg party armed with Super Soakers, blame it on bad lighting.
Another case of anti-black male propaganda by Hollywood.
While this is nothing new, what is never discussed is the socio-political ramification of black male bashing in the media.
Have you ever wondered why after all the ill stuff that has happened to black people over the centuries that you rarely see a black vigilante movie striking back at white folks? This is because the movie makers know, full well, the power they posses to shape public opinion. So don’t ever expect to see a movie about one day when Rosa Parks gets tired of being told to sit in the back of the bus , she starts blastin’ fools with her pistol.
The film industry has a history of portraying black men as violent beasts dating as far back as 1915 with DW Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” which featured a blood thirsty former slave named Gus who had a taste for white women. The movie was used as a Ku Klux Klan recruiting tool and a high number of lynchings were also recorded after the film’s release.
During the early 70's it can be suggested that Richard Nixon’s “get tough on crime” policy was not hampered by the blaxploitation movies of the era that portrayed black men as hustlers, dope fiends and pimps.
Moving into the 90's, how much of a role did movies like “Menace to Society” have in the development of stricter drug laws and anti-gang legislation disproportionately effecting young black men?
Politically speaking, did movies like 1993's “Falling Down” and it’s portrayal of the angry white man taking back his country help rally the troops for the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress in a post LA Rebellion America that was becoming increasing “multi-cultural?”
Many of us will never admit to how much we are effected by the stereotypical images we see on the big screen and how these images effect our judgement, especially when we are forced to make split second life or death decisions.
When Bernard Goetz put holes in some black teens on a NY subway or Soon Ja Du murdered 15 year old Latasha Harlins in a Korean grocery store in LA, were they reacting to real threats or imagined threats based largely on media images?
Either way, as a result of their very real actions one black teen lay paralyzed and the other dead.
Call me a modern day Don Quixote chasing windmills at every turn thinking that they are racist dragons but as Thomas Jefferson once said, “The price of Freedom is eternal vigilance.”
So, sometimes does that mean making a mountain out of a molehill?
But what if there was a movie about an evil slum lord and the first man shown in the preview just happened to be wearing a yarmulke ?
Or if the next release by Warner Brothers was a flick about child molesters with a cameo appearance by “Father Flanagan ?.”
Would Jews and Catholics be wrong to be a little miffed?
Only black folks have to write a doctoral thesis defending why they are P.O. ‘d; other cultures’ concerns are taken at face value.
If it wasn’t for the fact that black males make up a disproportionate number of inmates in American prisons and at this very moment six young men in Jena Louisiana are facing long prison sentences, I probably wouldn’t bother bringing up this issue.
But these are the facts and fighting against the negative stereotypes of black men has become my raison d’etre.
You know , they say a picture is worth a thousand words, but to a young black man facing prison, a movie picture is worth a 20 year bid.
Min. Paul Scott is a writer and activist in Durham NC. His blog is http://www.nowarningshotsfired.com He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 firstname.lastname@example.org