We think of Hollywood as a liberal and socially progressive land of hippies, what with its endless fundraisers and giving awards to movies that teach us that intolerance is wrong. Yet in certain ways, movies are still way behind the times.
We've pointed out before how certain weird movie stereotypes refuse to die, but there are larger, sadder trends that seem like they'll never go away.
For instance ...
5They Still Can't Show a Black Man Dating a White Woman (Unless That's What the Whole Movie Is About)
Think for a minute about the last time you saw a black guy with a white woman in a mainstream movie. OK, now take away every single movie where they're using that relationship to preach to us about racism. So that knocks out Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Jungle Fever, Save the Last Dance, Far From Heaven and any incarnation of Othello.
In other words, try to think of movies where the relationship is just treated as a normal, everyday thing (keep in mind, in real life one in seven new American marriages are between members of different races). Mia and Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction? Actually, that couple never appears on screen together. We'll give you two: Rachel Getting Married and Love Actually.
Seen mostly by critics and the people who actually made the films.
Now, think about the last time you saw a white guy get it on with a black lady (and again, where race wasn't a major theme of the movie). The list is surprisingly long: The Bodyguard, Die Another Day, The Score, Boiler Room, Mission Impossible II, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Avatar (kinda), The Princess and the Frog, Star Trek the movie, Star Trek the TV show and just about every movie Halle Berry's ever been in.
She's got that vanilla fever.
So What's the Deal?
It's not just our imagination. The "Audiences Don't Want to See Black Men Taking Our White Women" thing is so ingrained that Will Smith claims that Cameron Diaz lost the lead role opposite him in the movie Hitch because producers were worried about "the nation's problem of seeing a black man and a white woman getting intimate." So, Cuban-American Eva Mendes was cast instead. Hollywood has apparently decided that Mendes is a nice compromise to the black man/white woman problem -- she gets those roles again and again and again.
This one goes allll the way back to 1915's Birth of a Nation. Today, it's a punchline about how racist everyone used to be, but it was the first movie shown in the White House screening room to then President Woodrow Wilson. Up until the 1960s, it was widely regarded as the greatest American movie. And the second half of the movie is essentially a slasher flick in which "renegade slaves" (white guys in black face) play the role of Jason Voorhees, and pretty white girls play the role of ... well, the pretty white girls in slasher movies. It even has the standard "TURN AROUND HE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!" slasher movie shot as she's stalked by the monster ...
And the part where she throws herself off of a cliff to avoid being raped by a black man ...
"It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." -- President Woodrow Wilson, allegedly.
D.W. Griffith's movie was a hit because he knew how to strike a chord of terror with white audiences. In today's era of political correctness, it seems pretty telling that Hollywood works so hard to avoid even accidentally touching that same chord.
Think we're making it up? Then how do you explain The Pelican Brief? In the book, the guy and the girl do it, because he's a suave guy saving a damsel in distress and because that's what happens in every single work of fiction ever. In the movie, starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts at their most doable, they hugged. They were alone for the night in a cabin, and they hugged!
"Too close! A keep those hands where we can see 'em. We have a white male audience to consider here, people."