Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Red Tails


 If memory serves, this is the first review I've ever distributed written by someone else.  The author of this one, Stanley Gray, is an old friend of the Holzers, and his reaction to the new film is worth noting.  It follows...............
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The movie Red Tails almost made me cry…...
The major studios should be applauded for having the decency to pass on this movie.
To belittle and dishonor the heroic accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen by using them as an excuse to make a sloppy, comic-book aviation movie was unconscionable. The movie is a disgrace to film making and to black people.
 
I’m seventy-four years old. When I was a kid, growing up in a black neighborhood, the Tuskegee Airmen were one of the few (very few) heroes that we had. They still are, and always should be.
How racially arrogant is it of George Lucas to assume that it’s okay for him to turn our precious black history into a comic book film. Someone once said, "If you can’t shed any light on the subject, leave it in the dark."
 
Many young people don’t know about the Tuskegee Airman, and after seeing Red Tails, they still won’t. To say that Lucas squandered a great opportunity to shed some light, would imply that maybe it was unintentional. Believe me it wasn’t, because film making is about choices.
 
In real life The Tuskegee Airmen were college educated. In Red Tails they are caricaturized as bumpkins, speaking (and mumbling) clichéd lines and making uneducated decisions.
The special effects were mostly second-class and never once did I get the feeling that the actors were actually flying those planes. That’s cheesy film making, implying that black film-goers will accept anything. Ditto for the shoddy storytelling, or lack thereof.
 
The only love interest was an absurd, unbelievable hook-up between a pilot and an Italian woman. (And they killed the pilot off before the wedding). This poor choice was compounded by the fact none of the other pilots had any love interests in their lives.
Growing up in the 1940s, I saw a lot of war movies, and always the barracks were full of pictures and stories of loved ones back home. Apparently these black airmen in the movie didn’t have wives or girlfriends or mothers or children. There is only one very brief scene where a pilot is looking at a picture of a loved one, but he quickly hides it when another airman enters his room, as if he’s ashamed.
 
George Lucas, aided and abetted by blacks who were unable or unwilling to recognize that the king has no clothes, intentionally sabotaged a part of our history.
In my lifetime, I have seen unbelievable progress made in race relations, and I work hard at not being an "angry old black man."  But just when I think I’m over the hump, up pops a reminder like Red Tails. 
 
Instead of suggesting that people ignore this movie, I’m going to encourage all blacks to see it-- so as not to forget that it’s not over yet.
If we fail to speak out against this disrespectful trivializing of our history, we’re going to eventually need another civil rights movement. “Those who can’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”