Friday, May 11, 2007

Hollywood's dubious compliment

I watched the preview of the new show Traveler last night. (It was on after Grey's Anatomy and I was lazy.) The premise was interesting: what happens if you found out your best friend wasn't who you thought? In this case maybe a terrorist or a government operative of some kind. The acting wasn't the greatest and the plot was pretty hole-y. But they really lost me with the arrival of the Helpful Mysterious Black Guy.

I suspect white Hollywood writers and producers think it's a compliment. Look, a black man saves the day! But I'm tired of black characters using mysterious powers to help white people. A quick list of movies with this theme off the top of my head:

The Green Mile
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Bruce Almighty & Evan Almighty (a black man as god is cool, but can't a black god help some black folks?)
Ghost (and more than a few other Whoopi movies)

There are many more. Check out Wikipedia's entry for "the magical Negro" and this list of 13 movies featuring magical black men.

The magical Negro is why I gave a recovering alcoholic a white sponsor in my novel Orange Mint and Honey. As Nona says, "Let the white folks do a little of the spiritual heavy lifting for a change." There is also a magical black woman in my book, but she comes to the aid of another black woman, as sisters do in real life.

No comments: