james tyler white

I love how the extended backstories in the Dear White People allow the new actors to make the characters complex and distinctive.

I know this gon get me some hate...

So I usually don’t speak on these things on my blog, but I figured I would give it a shot.

So I watched the movie “Dear White People” after this whole controversy hit the internet. I wanted to see if it was actually as racist as everyone claims it to be.

And, to be honest, I was decently surprised.

I think the Netflix trailer does the movie a great disservice in terms of how nuanced of a movie it actually is.

It manages, with decent accuracy, to discuss the following issues about the black experience well:

• Internalized racism
• Racism and the issue of “power & privilege” vs. discrimination based on skin color
• Homophobia within the black community and in general (Tyler James Williams has an interview on this where he speaks about this issue)
• What is means to be “black”

And while the movie wasn’t perfect, it also wasn’t as blatantly racism as I originally thought it would be. It wasn’t a 2 hour “guilt-trip” for white people like I thought it would be.

One thing I thought the movie did very well was address the fact that when it comes to race issues, black people aren’t a melting pot.

We don’t agree on everything concerning race and we often find ourselves at odds with one another within our community. I know this is kind of a “duh” type of thing, but one thing I’ve seen happen a lot in discussions of race is individuals speaking for the entire community when we are a group of unique people with different views and opinions.

Anyways, that’s about it! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this whole thing :).

-A.I.

4

I recently checked out the recent film Dear White People (2014)with the idea that it would just be a social commentary on race. I was pleasantly surprised to find the inclusion of a gay character, Lionel Higgins portrayed by Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris). The film also has a gay director, Justin Simien (named under Variety’s 2013 10 Directors to Watch Out For).

When people spoke of this film many people left out mention of a gay character but I find him pretty unique in the LGBTQ spectrum. Not only does he deal with issues of being gay but also of being black and gay, feeling torn between two communities he doesn’t really feel comfortable in but is expected to. The character is refreshing.

6

Dear white people, the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man Tyrone does not count.

Movies (8/???) | Dear White People (2014)

8

Dear White People (2014) - dir. Justin Simien

Satire is one of the toughest genres to tackle across any medium. Simien, as a first-time feature writer/director, proves up to the challenge. Dear White People is razor sharp, provocative in the right ways, and you can’t do much besides applaud the effort. Sure, the ending is a bit much, which is unfortunate since the film’s finale packs a sucker punch with each stereotype tossed on screen, and is cut a little short with the tongue-in-cheek. The film offers itself as a mirror, and it uses its four main characters - all walking contradictions - beautifully.

But why four? It may seem an odd complaint, but the film is held back in much the same way it’s propelled forward. Simien seems unsure of himself, cramming all of his ideas into one film, when it could have been so much better had he just worked one idea to completion. You can feel halfway through that Simien is too loyal to his leads, really only able to offer interesting character arcs for two (Lionel and Sam) while the other two get lost in the fray. It’s a bold film, but without one central character to latch onto, the film ends up being a beautiful collection of ideas, with moments of taut irony, forced into a structure that allows for too much downtime.

7.1

Thoughts and Rants of Dear White People
  • I know a lot of you guys (myself included) were/are excited to see this movie because this is one of the few times we are going to see racism on college campuses discussed in film and a chance to see 3 dimensional Black characters navigate through it all.
  • Well this isn’t that movie ladies and gentleman. This movie really doesn’t do a good job at discussing any of that.
  • First of all there was really nothing that indicated that there was any racism at this fictional college. There was nothing that indicated that the white college students were racist. Sure they were douchebags and they did bully Lionel’s character but that seemed like it was more homophobia than racism (which is ok, but they never really examined that either).
  • Most of the bullying and the micro-aggression in the film was committed by the Black students. 
  • Most of the racism in the film is facilitated by the Black students, especially with the two plot twists in the movie.
  • Sam White and Coco Conners (OMG you can tell by the names who the light skin girl and who’s the dark skin girl) are both equally terrible people but guess who gets love and a happy ending?
  • It seems like Sam is the only one who gets character development around here. She comes out the film a “better” person while Coco is reduced to a slam piece, Troy is still Mr. Perfect.
  • One of the things older Black people fear about interracial relationships is that dating a White person would make you less “down for the cause” and make you silence your activism and they totally did that to Sam in this movie.
  • My White friend pointed out that this film makes it seem like racism just exists in Black people’s heads and it doesn’t actually cripple, ruin, or threaten any of these kids in this film. 
  • The Tyler Perry quips didn’t really do anything for me because this movie is just as bad or maybe worst because the film doesn’t do a good job at examining anything. I give Tyler Perry credit for giving the cycle of abuse some context while Justin Simien’s universe almost exists in a vacuum. 
  • This maybe just Justin Simien’s lack of experience as a writer/director but he didn’t do a good job at building tension so the riot feels a bit cheap and contrived.
  • This may come off as petty but the director doesn’t seem to welcome Spike Lee comparison and claims his influences are Woody Allen and Ingmar Bergman, which i think is him trying to seem more sophisticated but Dear White People is part  School Daze and part Do The Right Thing without the pay off and the moral ambiguity 
  • Justin Simen probably should have done a Woody Allen-esque film for some experience before taking on a such a hot button topic.

The truth is this isn’t a very good movie and it becomes very cheap in the end. I know some of y'all gave some money for the kickstarter so you guys should go see it but I will say I was very disappointed. I think all those people who thought the film would be about attacking White people would be very pleased with the film. 

10

2014’s Best Performances

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl / David Oyelowo, Selma / Patricia Arquette, Boyhood / J.K. Simmons, Whiplash / Tom Hardy, Locke / Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler / Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year / Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel / Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin / Brendan Gleeson, Calvary / Reese Witherspoon, Wild / Rene Russo, Nightcrawler / Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year / Edward Norton, Birdman / Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, & Liv LeMoyne, We Are the Best! / Jenny Slate, Obvious Child / Tessa Thompson, Dear White People / Chris Pine, Into the Woods / Emma Stone, Birdman / Carrie Coon, Gone Girl / Ethan Hawke, Boyhood / Emily Blunt, Into the Woods / Tyler James Williams, Dear White People / Michael Fassbender, Frank / Essie Davis, The Babadook / Julianne Moore, Still Alice / Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins / Alison Pill, Snowpiercer / Bradley Cooper, Guardians of the Galaxy / Laura Dern, Wild / Elisabeth Moss, The One I Love / Miles Teller, Whiplash / Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria / Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights / Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes / Rachel McAdams, A Most Wanted Man / Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything / Rosario Dawson, Top Five / John Lithgow & Alfred Molina, Love is Strange / Ben Affleck, Gone Girl / Channing Tatum, 22 Jump Street / Dan Stevens, The Guest / Anthony Mackie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier / Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars / Mark Duplass, The One I Love / Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher / Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 / Angelina Jolie, Maleficent / Liam Neeson, The Lego Movie