Before I start with this rant, let first state that I am fully aware that I am a white guy about to go off on other white guys. And maybe that nullifies my voice somewhat here, and maybe some of you might think it just adds to the noise, but I do want to raise my particular voice regarding a couple stories last week about the Alamo Drafthouse’s screening series to combat racism – which I find problematic (to be kind) when looking at the films they have chosen to put forward, as well as to be a male in the industry adding my voice alongside that of many women (and some men, as well) telling James Cameron that his criticism of WONDER WOMAN is both off base and frankly, just ego-driven, in my opinion. So, let’s discuss, shall we?
This is one of the films that Alamo Drafthouse is going to put forward as a response to the normalization of Neo Nazis, White Supremacists, and the KKK in this country. It’s a selection within their just announced “Intolerable: Reflections of Bigotry and Hatred in Cinema” series. This is going to be the remedy for the fact that conservatives in this country think “there are some fine people” among those Tiki-torch wielding white thugs marching through the streets in Charlottesville chanting and shouting that they “won’t be replaced by Jews.” I guess, because a lesson on racism goes down best with a fart joke chaser.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS? GREEN ROOM?
Those films are going to make the “Make America Great Again” crowd (which everyone knows is actually code for “Make America White Again”) stop for a moment and reflect and decide that they shouldn’t be tacitly saying, “We’re okay if you eliminate (read, “kill if you have to, but by all means force to leave the country”) all the blacks and Jews as long as we get those clean coal jobs back like you promised.” Those are the films that are going to shine a light on the inherent darkness in their souls, the weakness in each of their characters to stand by while more swastikas are painted on more homes, more brown kids are picked on in schools and told they were going to be deported soon, and more mosques are attacked and vandalized, if not burned down altogether.
I mean, the Nazis are REALLY easy to hate in those films, right? It’s not at all like those polo shirt wearing guys that sell you hot dogs back home, or claim they just want to protect their white heritage while they tell another black family that he’s turning them down for a home loan. I mean, those guys have nice haircuts and are always nice to us (of course, we also happen to be white, but, you know, whatever…).
Singing along with Joel Gray in CABARET is going to sway them? Really?
No, it won’t. None of them will. But it will help to get some liberal posing Bros into the theater, drink some beers and eat some chicken strips and sliders, while they high five each other as Brad Pitt declares that he wants his Nazi scalps!
And maybe, better yet, you can create a social media firestorm like you did with that women-only WONDER WOMAN screening. That would be the best thing, right? That was a prime example of slactivism. And as a publicist, I have to admire it, because Alamo Drafthouse seized upon a moment and burnished their brand looking like they actually were doing something to advance the cause of promoting female filmmakers, and the right of women to actually be represented on the screen in superhero fashion for reals. When, the truth is, they didn’t do anything. Talk about Return on Investment. You scored there. So that was a success to anyone not closely looking. But let’s face it, who does that anymore, right?
And Alamo Drafthouse does have a specific audience to cater to, I get that. But if you wanted to really push some buttons, get under some white skin, then how about Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO? Let James Baldwin deliver a smack down for you. Instead of Ava Duvernay’s SELMA, how about her documentary, 13TH? I mean, I guess we should be glad you didn’t pick HIDDEN FIGURES, but seriously..
However, I also get that I’m suggesting a couple documentaries, and those don’t bring in the raucous sing-along crowds like HAIRSPRAY will. And while it would’ve been something to see Lilana Cavani’s THE NIGHT PORTER in that lineup I’m sure it was tough to pass on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK or X-MEN: FIRST CLASS that make it so easy to cheer against movie-style Nazis, so – as we have to do A LOT these days, I guess we’ll take our wins where we can get them.
And ultimately, since the proceeds will be directed to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps trying to tell anyone that will listen that this country’s greatest threat comes not form ISIS or Al Quaida, but rather, the greatest danger to the United States actually comes from White Supremacists, Neo Nazis, KKK, and the Right Wing Militias they all too often inhabit. Yes, Right Wing Militias are this country’s greatest threat. They have guns and weapons stockpiled, and they are consistently butt-hurt snowflakes upset because equality doesn’t mean white dudes get everything at the big feast, and everyone else sits at the little table.
So, at least there is that.
WONDER WOMAN was a step back? Because she wasn’t damaged and hard as nails like Linda Hamilton’s iconic Sarah Conner character in T2, or Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in ALIENS?
You created two amazing heroines for the ages, no doubt about it. Credit was due for that and credit has been received many times over. But there have been A LOT of James Cameron films and not all of them had sterling female characters that would survive your own scrutiny you are now bearing down on Patty Jenkins’ great film. Two words: TRUE. LIES.
Would you have sided with Jenkins on what is arguably the finest part of WONDER WOMAN – the “No Man’s Land” sequence? She had to fight to keep that in, and it was decisions like that which helped make the film soar and redirected the falling trajectory of Warner Bros’ DC Universe. That was a female filmmaker’s decision and fortitude to fight for her vision.
But it wasn’t yours. And I think that is the real problem here. It wasn’t your idea. It wasn’t your approach. And rather than have the grace and respect to allow that other filmmakers can exist equally and have great ideas and execution just as you have had, you had to step on someone else. And not just anyone else, but someone that already had to fight her way – more so than you ever have or ever would have simply due to the fact that you have a penis – into the job itself.
You should be better than that. I mean, if you are interested in promoting the work of female filmmakers and their ability to have similar opportunities to yourself, that is. You should maybe consider stepping around your ego as you comment and make statements, and maybe show some more thought – and yes, grace. As an example, I would look to Patty Jenkins’s response after reading your comment.
I would start there. And then move forward.