Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cadillac Records

I heard an advertisement on the radio today for Cadillac Records. It was an NPR spot, very dry and announcey. They said it was about Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Etta James, starring Adrian Brody, Jeffrey Wright, and Beyoncé Knowles.

Yep. It's about 3 black people, starring a white guy and 2 black people. Can your ears do a double-take?

I thought about it. The story of Leonard Chess is certainly interesting, but is it a way of getting white people to see a movie about black musicians? Didn't white people see Dreamgirls?

More... I remember there was an article about Eva Mendes co-starring in Hitch. They didn't want to give Will Smith a black romantic interest, because they didn't want it to be ghettoized as a "black movie." On the other hand, a white romantic interest could be controversial. Enter the beautiful Latina.

So that's...unpleasant. And I have to ask myself, am I, a white person, less likely to see a "black movie"? And the truthful answer is, maybe. Not consciously, but I think when I'm looking at what's playing, I might definitely eliminate non-white movies when I decide what I'm going to see. Which shows me how far we have to go. How not post-racism we are. Because I look at black movies as movies I won't necessarily relate to, as if those are people too different from me for me to form a connection to them. (Which is why Cadillac Records or Dreamgirls are exceptions; I connect to the music.)

And it's true. I know fewer black people than white people (even though some of the black people I know are my relatives). I connect less to the culture. I feel like a stranger. It shouldn't be true, it's wrong that it's true, but it's true.

(Cadillac Cross-post)