If you haven’t come up with a New Year’s resolution yet, consider this: Hollywood has an ulterior motive to profit off of the defamation of many types of characters it screens in theaters, and what better time than the beginning of 2017 for us to declare enough is enough? Because it is.
In the new year, let’s start to rethink the types of movies we encourage Hollywood to produce when we swipe our credit cards at a theater. There’s a reoccurring theme happening with many of Hollywood’s Oscar-nominated movies, and that is that they’re making a profit at the expense of assassinating the character of a minority.
Too many times, the billion dollar industry casted the wrong kind of actors to play the role of a minority, and speak another man’s truth, when they’ve never walked a mile in those shoes.
Maybe you haven’t seen the controversial film produced by actor and film maker Spike Lee, who had the intentions of sounding the alarm for a wake up call on gang violence in Chicago, but just from the trailer, viewers can tell that this movie does no justice to portray modern day life in Chicago.
Lee was aiming to create a public service announcement about the high rise in gang affiliation in Chicago, and even had statistics pulled in the opening of the movie to compare the the death pool of Chicago to Iraq. It stated that Chicago far surpasses the Middle Eastern country’s death rate. In a nutshell, this movie failed to accomplish its mission to raise awareness.
It successfully achieved depicting a singular subjective point of view of a city that many people claim to be from, but it’s by a famous producer and well-known actors that are from New York. Yes, New York!
What’s credible about New Yorkers telling the story of Chicagoans?
Chi-Raq attempts to go for the jugular when it directly attacks all black men in Chicago. Throughout the movie, viewers witness each character re-enforcing stereotypes associated with being Black. Where did the impression that Black men can easily be swayed by sex come from? How did the seed that was planted in so many heads to be suspicious of Black men bloom into a stereotype of assuming all Black men carry guns like women carry purses?
Chi-Raq is not only an insult to Black men, but continues on to degrade Black women as well.
The movie spends two hours on the significance of gun violence and the lack of gun control, but completely redirects its narrative to be disrespectful to Black women and Black culture.
Black women in the movie were scripted to withhold sex from their spouses and significant others by going on a “sex strike” until they saw a significant decrease in gang violence. Women rallied together and protested the gun violence by denying “all rights of access and entrance” to their bodies. Their slogan was simple, ” no peace, no p****.”
While anticipating significant changes to come about from this sex strike, men became angry and argued “Women! You need us! Do your duty and give up that booty!”
To be cast in a movie that requires dressing in a provocative manner, then having your self-worth be equated to the sexual services you perform is counterproductive to the true intentions of what this movie says it’s trying to accomplish.
But there’s another bone to be picked here. To rob a Chicagoan of the right to be offended about the way Chicago has been portrayed is downright ignorant. Sorry Spike Lee, but it is. To be aware of the outrage and uproar this movie has sparked, and then claim in an interview that a Chicagoan’s anger about the portrayals the movie made is unjustified, is immoral. It basically shows a clear intent to promote a misleading message just to cash a check.
Spike Lee encourages viewers to ” not get it twisted” by calling Chi-Raq a comedy.
Does classifying it as a “satire” give it more purpose? Undo the damage of reinforcing negative stereotypes?
All this movie has really accomplished is enraging many Chicago natives. It’s definitely not a public service announcement.
Zero Dark Thirty
This movie commemorated and documented a significant moment in history for the United States: The killing of Osama bin Laden ten years after 9/11.
My only intentions in watching this movie were to understand the type of misconceptions that the easily gullible audience would be fed by the makers of this movie. When I went to see it, I ended up trying to disguise the fact that I was visibly Muslim, so as not to be being recognized by an audience member behind me.
Because when the Navy Seals were wrongfully portrayed as heroes after murdering innocent civilians in the Middle East, an obnoxious viewer behind me couldn’t help but publicly voice his support for them by advocating to “kill them all.”
I covertly slid my hijab off, replacing it with a hoodie, all while insisting to my mom that we leave before the movie was over. I was just as curious as the next person as to how and where Osama bin Laden was killed, but that’s not what I remembered most from the movie. What I remember most was that someone sitting behind me wanted to kill us all.
Just a glimpse at the trailer gives viewers the direct misconception that America is at war with Islam and any person claiming to have Middle Eastern roots. The idea that members of an entire religion must face the repercussions from one man’s terrorist attack was also a message that was promoted.
My only questions for the producer of this movie and the viewer behind me are this: Why can a non-Muslim escape being labeled a terrorist when committing the exact same crime a Muslim has? Why can all members of one creed be portrayed as a hero, while the other is a threat?
Let’s also talk terrorist interrogation tactics. To be thrown a bone and then just run with it is not enough evidence to support and accuse a suspect of terrorism and justify them being waterboarded. I lost count of how many times the actors resorted to this method of interrogation, even when investigating people who were innocent. It also made the technique look successful — and it actually wasn’t in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Author Steve Coll published an article titled “Disturbing and Misleading,” featuring comments made by state senators and the CIA director.
“The film creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques…were the key to finding Bin Laden,” Michael Morell, the acting CIA director, wrote to agency employees in December. “That impression is false.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and the two senior members of the Armed Services Committee, Democrat Carl Levin and Republican John McCain, co-authored a letter calling the movie’s version of recent counterterrorism history “grossly inaccurate.” The senators said the film’s flaws have “the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.”
Zero Dark Thirty inarguably damaged the reputation of Muslims by arguing that it is inconceivable to be a Muslim while simultaneously being an American. It has also portrayed an inaccurate perception of what an average Muslim is like.
Just as I feared a stranger approaching me with the wrong impression in mind, many non-Muslims viewers feared for their safety while sharing the theatre with Middle Eastern families.
This movie has birthed a more Islamophobic America that could potentially wage an unnecessary civil war to sustain and preserve its core values — which are supposed to include welcoming immigrants and freedom of religion.
That means Muslims should be welcomed.
American Sniper is another misleading production that promotes a stereotypical view of the Middle East and Muslims.
The movie documents Chris Kyle’s experience of being a sniper deployed in Iraq, but falsely accuses innocent civilians of being threats. The movie closely ties with Kyle’s autobiography American Sniper, and gives a better perspective on a first person point of view and narration of Kyle’s experience.
In an article titled ” ‘American Sniper’ is Dangerous Propaganda That Sanitizes a Mass Killer and Rewrites the Iraq War”, the author Ranya Khalek, features a quote from Chris Kyle’s book stating that when he was in Iraq, he recalled killing a veiled woman who “was too blinded by evil to consider them. She just wanted Americans dead, no matter what. [Chris Kyle’s] shots saved several Americans, whose lives were clearly more worth than that twisted woman’s soul.” This quote portrays the nonexistent threat of “America v. Everyone From The Middle East.”
He goes on to assure readers that he “can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing [his] job” and collectively labels people in Iraq as ” despicable savages that [he was fighting].” Kyle also briefly explains the word “savages” is commonly substituted for “enemy.”
But here’s were you can raise your eyebrows and wonder whether Kyle was really a hero, because just maybe he’s also a villain. When asked how many civilians he killed, Kyle responded “Does the answer make me less of a man?” (Yes, because we’re concerned about your manhood, and not the loss of innocent lives.)
He continued, ” The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”
Now that, ladies and gentleman, is the true representation of what a “savage” is. Kyle wishes he killed more civilians, and referred to them all as savages who wanted to take American lives.
This exact mentality is the same kind that gives Americans the idea that Muslims are a threat to the United States, when, in fact, there are Muslims who are also American.
Chris Kyle explains that he “has a strong sense of justice [and that] it’s pretty black-and-white. [He doesn’t] see too much gray.” (Some of the innocents murdered might have been in the grey).
When it comes to being in the moment of getting ready to kill someone, he explains “The first time you shoot someone, you get a little nervous. You think, can I really shoot this guy? Is it really okay? But after you kill your enemy, you see it’s okay. You say, Great.”
The hypocrisy only continues when Chris Kyle recalled forms of entertainment he found while deployed in Iraq that showed a clear denigration and dehumanization of Middle Eastern lives. Kyle recalled, “I do remember the presents Taya’s folks sent that year, though: Remote-control Hummers. Some of the Iraqis working on base had apparently never seen anything like them before; I’d drive a vehicle toward them and they would scream and bolt away. Cheap thrills in Iraq were priceless.”
What a great hero.
This movie hasn’t even come out yet, and I cringe every time I see the trailer.
Patriots Day recalls the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013.
This movie is going to hurt people on opening night. PTSD expert Dr. Roger K. Pitman argued that the premiere of this movie will be offensive for victims of the Boston marathon bombing, as well as those who lost loved ones in the tragic event. Simply put, it’s just too soon.
In the article titled “‘Patriots Day’ Boston Premiere Inspires Conflicting Emotions,” he stated that the idea of having a red carpet event “is offensive since it’s about people who died in a tragic incident.”
But we also need to be aware of the history behind the holiday in Massachusetts to understand why the title of this movie does such a diservice in commemorating the holiday. Patriots Day is noted in history to have originated from the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battles that later ignited the American Revolutionary War in the fight for America’s independence.
It is understandable that the Boston Marathon takes place on Patriots Day to celebrate the historical holiday, but given the tragic event that happened on this holiday three years ago, it is morally wrong to title this movie with a name that’s meant to be inclusive for everyone — because any American should be able to be patriotic. Brief scenes in the trailer show the type of diversity — or rather stereotyping — on who will play suspects and be featured in this movie. With that said, titling the movie Patriots Day makes a silent but strong statement that being a patriot is exclusive to a certain demographic — and it excludes Muslims and other marginalized groups.
So, with all of the above said…Hollywood, please: