Hollywood is no stranger to getting it wrong when it comes to Black History.
From fantasy films to revenge slave dramas, time and again,Hollywood has really tried it … and failed miserably. They’ve painted us as servants, and secondary characters, even re-writing African history and removing us from it.
Even when it seems they’ve had the best intentions, some of these films have fallen completely flat. And in spite of whatever commercial success, they were still either detrimental or disrespectful to Black people.
Take a look at the biggest Black history fails from Hollywood.
Exodus – Gods & Kings
Where do I even begin?
For some reason, people are either unwilling or refuse to accept the fact that Egypt is in Africa and therefore the people are African. They are not white. But when Ridley Scott’s epic film ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ was released, the only people of color found in the film were servants and slaves.
In response to the blatant dismissal of Black people in Black countries, others) boycotted the film. Although it grossed over $200 million, it was still considered a flop.
Sometimes Hollywood fails, even when it wins.
‘Django Unchained‘ is Quentin Tarantino’s western slave revenge dramedy. Starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson, the film follows Django as he searches for his wife, Broomhilda, in the years before the Civil War. The film was critically acclaimed and went on to become Tarantino’s highest grossing picture.
But it wasn’t without controversy. The film glossed over the atrocities of slavery and attempted to make a comedy out of tragedy. The language of the film, with it’s excessive use of the N-word, also came under fire. In addition, director Spike Lee publicly blasted the film on twitter and in several interviews.
Just when you thought you couldn’t get enough of the ridiculousness. Released in 2011, ‘The Help‘ (even the name is offensive) was a period drama about a young white writer’s relationship with two Black maids. The film received positive reviews from countless white folks, but most of us were not here for it. The only Black man in the film was an abuser, Viola Davis‘ character was made to repeat the awful dialogue “You is smart. You is kind. You is important” and it was unfair to the plight of Black Maids.
Although we’re happy Octavia Spencer won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, it was definitely a fail.
This film hasn’t even been released and we’ve already been hearing complaints about the film’s accuracy.
Jesse Owens made history when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Despite the amazing trailer, we’ve heard from movie critics that the film doesn’t accurately reflect the racism Owens faced when he returned to the United States.
We’re going to give it the benefit of doubt until we watch the film. But we don’t have high hopes.
Angelina Jolie As Any Person Of Color
Did Angelina Jolie become a person of color right before our eyes? It certainly seems that way. In 2007, Jolie portrayed Afro-Cuban journalist Mariane Peal in ‘A Mighty Heart’ and she’s currently in talks to play Cleopatra in her next film.
Cleopatra. Queen of Egypt.
Again, Egyptians are Africans! Hollywood continues to white-wash our history right before our eyes.
But wait, there’s more!
Gods Of Egypt
You guessed it.
Here’s another film about ancient Egypt with hardly a Black person in sight. This might as well be a damn conspiracy at this point.
We spotted one in the trailer, but he doesn’t appear to have a significant role in the film. What is it about Egypt that makes Hollywood want it to be white? Is it the pyramids? Are they in disbelief that Africans built them?
We aren’t sure. Although the special effects look amazing, we’re going to sit this one out.
Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson
Now this one is just disrespectful.
When Michael Jackson died in 2009, he may no longer have looked like the brown-skinned young man with Jackson 5 nostrils, but he certainly was still Black. So we’re wondering why in the world is a white man, Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love) set to portray him in a new film? He is literally the whitest white man of them all!
The film is a comedy about a hypothetical performance with Marlon Brando, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor, taking place the day before 9/11. And sorry, it already sounds like its going to be ridiculously offensive.
Driving Miss Daisy
This 1989 comedy starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy was a chip off the old racist block. Literally. The film is about an elderly white woman (Tandy) who’s son hires a driver to chauffeur (Freeman) her around after she wrecked her car. The two become best friends and she even teaches him how to read! To top it off, in the film, Tandy’s character is invited to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. speak and, instead of inviting her so-called best friend to join her, she makes him wait for her in the car. Outrageous.
Even worse, this film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. (We know how they do).
Flex Alexander as Michael Jackson
Now, we can’t call everyone else out without looking at ourselves. Sure, it was a TV movie, but it has aired repeatedly on VH1 for years for millions of people to see. Which means everyone saw that makeup. And that acting. How did we let this happen? Why did Flex agree to this? We have so many questions!
It’s a good thing social media was not around when this was released.
The Birth Of A Nation
And of course, we can’t mention fails without the greatest fail of all. This is where it all began.
D.W Griffith’s silent epic drama, released in 1915, was the ultimate slap in the face to Black people. The film portrayed Black men as particularly aggressive towards white women and the Ku Klux Klan as heroes. There were massive protests across the country, but the film was a commercial success.
But 100 years later, the racist film has finally come full circle. Nate Parker‘s film “The Birth of A Nation” about Nat Turner’s slave revolt was picked up at Sundance for a record $17.5 million dollars!
We’re definitely checking out that film.
Are there other times when Hollywood failed Black people that stand out to you? Share them with us in the comments below.