1st Afrika

The film Red Tails: An Ode Of Image Redemption By George Lucas

I would like to rectify the asseveration by some people who usually postulate that George Lucas is a racist simply because of the fact that he adapted the narrative style of pre 1960s Hollywood Western film genre. RACIST HOLLYWOOD started during the era of  CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD. In films like ”The Birth of a Nation” (1915) by D.W Griffiths, ”The Wizard of OZ” (1939) by Victor Fleming, through most Western films of pre 1960 Hollywood, and in some pre 1960 Melodramas like ”Imitation of Life” (1959) by Douglas Sirks, all we see is the presentation of non-white Europeans as uncivilized individuals- the bad guys- the ”others.”

It is imperative to note that RACIST HOLLYWOOD died in the 1960s after Old-Hollywood was besieged by a paradigm shift which led to the rise of American and aggrieved Third Worldist radical/anti-racist narrative filmmakers. The emergence of these post 1950 filmmakers ushered in an epoch of  ”diasporic” and ”artistic” film-making style which is still prevalent in cinemas of today. This is a kind of film making style whereby, films are deployed as an anti-colonialism/anti-racism/anti-gender oppression weapon.

Through their films, the New-Hollywood Revisionist-filmmakers and Third Worldist Diasporic-filmmakers successfully decimated Old-Hollywood’s racist film making style (see Ousmane Sembene’s African-films). In the United States,the post 1950 (anti classic Hollywood) films which were made during 1960s are called REVISIONIST FILMS. Classic Hollywood Western films were replaced by SPAGHETTI WESTERNS.

Clint Eastwood is the most popular actor who emerged during this era through Spaghetti Westerns, while Sergio Leone emerged as the most famous Spaghetti Western director. In these Revisionist films, the white man is usually the BAD GUY, while the native American Indian and the Black Man are the GOOD GUYS (see ”Buck and the Preacher” (1972) by Sydney Poitier, ”Little Big Man” (1970) by Arthur Penn, and  ”Soldier Blue” (1970) by Ralph Nelson).

George Lucas, who was one of Francis Ford Coppola’s partner in their independent film company named American Zoetrope (1969), is described by Jenny M. Jones  as ”an idealistic filmmaker with a utopian vision of creating personal and artistic films.” George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, and Martin Scorsese later began to make popular films in the 1970s.

It is evident that  Lucas reintroduced the classic Hollywood (pre 1960) Western film narrative style (i.e. of conflicts between two binary opposites which is racially inspired) in his 1977 film titled ”Star Wars.” What is also evident is that everybody (white-Europeans and non-white Europeans) is presented as villains in ”Star Wars.” Does this film make Lucas a racist? Well, the answer is no.

What Lucas is doing right now through the film ”’Red Tails” (2012) ,which is 80% produced by George Lucas and directed by Anthony Hemmingway, is what I call ”The Redemption Of His Image Through The Production Of A Black Film.” Lucas is extricating himself from being connected to racist pre 1960 Hollywood- because of  the classic Hollywood Western narrative style of ‘’Star Wars’’ -by making a BLACK FILM which he finished in this OBAMA ERA. Lucas is apparently emulating Clint Eastwood’s idea of  ”image redemption through the production of a Black film.”

Eastwood, who played a hard-core WHITE POLICE OFFICER who represents WHITE AMERICA in the film ”Dirty Harry” (1971) by Don Siegel, was called a racist by many people in the 1970s-1980s. Eastwood had to ”redeem his name” in the 1992 film ”’Unforgiven.” This film, which is directed by Clint Eastwood, is a film where Will Munny (Eastwood) sided with Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman…who is a black man) to oppose and kill Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman…who is a white man). Eastwood later directed/produced another REDEMPTION FILM about Nelson Mandela in 2009 which he titled ”Invictus.”

The production of a BLACK FILM by another Hollywood heavyweight like George Lucas (after Clint Eastwood) is definitely a very positive development. I envision a Hollywood whereby, non-white Europeans will be constantly featured en masse in future Hollywood big budget films. I wish George Lucas great success in this film. Hopefully, the film ”Red Tails” will show that just like Eastwood, Lucas is not really a ”’Black people hater” or ”racist filmmaker.” This film, just like ”’Miracle at St. Anna” (2008) by Spike Lee, will also show the world how African-Americans contributed immensely to the victories of the United States military as patriotic and proud American soldiers.

© OJ Obiorah 2012.

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