Friday, July 13, 2007

Why No Movies About the Civil Rights Movement?

The Washington Post recently published an interesting piece about Hollywood's reluctance to make films about the civil rights movement. The article raises some important questions about race, the media and white America's unwillingness to confront its racial past (or present, for that matter).

From the article:

"That the story of the most important social and political moment in this country's history has gone untold in its dominant narrative art form is shocking on any number of levels (one being that among the movement's most effective tactics was creating media images). Here is a chapter of American life whose legacy and ramifications -- from Don Imus's idea of humor to the decisions of the current Supreme Court -- are still deeply, if painfully, felt. It's a chapter filled with charismatic characters and compelling stories. It's a chapter that -- considering the ever-increasing number of bankable African American stars -- seems not just worthy of Hollywood's attention but positively ideal for a major movie event."

"Ask studio executives why this is, and this is what you'll hear: Black-themed films don't play overseas. African American actors can't open movies. American filmgoers don't like dramas. Multi-character historical dramas are just too expensive."

Check out the whole thing here:

Waiting for 'Action!' Instead of Making Films About the Civil Rights Era, Hollywood Has Made Excuses


  1. A shame to hear that because I think people like Spike Lee and Will Smith can make big things happen. Look at the "Dreamgirls" cast and crew, that was huge (at the Oscars at least, dunno about the box office).

    I'd love to see a film on the civil rights era. Maybe they should forget big-budget Hollywood and go the independent route?

    Maybe it's a bit too soon to show such a film and be commercially successful at the same time? I wonder how many white moviegoers are going to pay $10 at the theater to be reminded about how we fucked over (and still continue to) African Americans for centuries. Especially when Transformers and Die Hard 4.0 are the film's competition.

  2. I just watched the trailer for Ghosts of Cite Soleil.

    Set in a city the United Nations has declared the most dangerous place on Earth. And its got Wyclef.

    As one reviewer put it, the film, "adds recognizable humanity to a culture that has seemed more lacking in hope and human decency than any other on earth."