Dear White People

PLOT:

Sam White is a bi-racial film production major at Winchester University, a prestigious and predominantly white school. With her sharp tongued and witty radio show Dear White People and her self-published book, Ebony and Ivy, Sam causes a stir among the administration and student body alike, criticizing white people and the racist transgressions at Winchester.

When Sam wins the election for head of house of Armstrong/Parker, the all black house on campus, tensions rise. In winning the election, she beats her ex-boyfriend Troy Fairbanks, the son of the school’s dean. Troy harbors dreams of being a comedic writer rather than a lawyer, but his father prefers that he not give white people a chance to profile him, and will accept nothing less than his best. Coco has an issue with Sam because the reality TV producer she is trying to win over would rather do a show on the witty light-skinned black girl than her. Lionel Higgins, a black homosexual student, gets a chance at finally finding his place at Winchester by being recruited by the school’s most prestigious student paper to write a piece on Sam and the black experience at Winchester. When Kurt, a white student and son of the school’s president, and his club come up with a blackface theme for their annual party in response to Sam’s outspoken show, black students appear at the party, and a confrontation ensues, leading to a brawl.

REVIEW:

It is a shame that, love him or hate him, the thing President Obama will be known for is bringing out the racism in people. I shudder to think what would happen should Hillary Clinton get elected. Will there be a steady upswing in violence against women? Dear White People is a film that, by the title alone, will upset some, but is it a quality flick?

What is this about?

A satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular ‘African American’ themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in ‘post-racial’ America while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.

What did I like?

Start the conversation. There has been a problem with race in this country since the Pilgrims came over and assimilated the Native Americans. What this film is brave enough to so is tackle a fairly taboo subject, but do it in a way that isn’t preachy or militant. We all have our personal prejudices, whether we care to admit them or not, and this film is sure to open your eyes towards the problem those views may be causing.

Identity crisis. It may be hard to believe, but most black people don’t go around speaking ebonics, listening to rap music, eating chicken and waffles, etc. As with other stereotypes, there are those that fall into that pigeonhole, but for the most part, most members of the race are well-spoken, educated, upstanding members of their community who don’t wish to be confused with the inferior, for lack of a better term, individuals. Tyler James Williams’ character is one of these people. He doesn’t fit in with his own race and the white people don’t care for him, either. The fact that he is a homosexual doesn’t help matters, either.

Unknown. Dennis Haysbert is the only recognizable actor in here. Well, you may recognize Williams from Everybody Hates Chris or his recent stint on The Walking Dead. The rest of the cast is a bunch of nobodies. I was thinking how would this work with a cast of name actors, and I just don’t think it would, so kudos to the casting director for finding new blood and unleashing their potential.

What didn’t I like?

Cartoon antagonist. I hear critics and movie reviewers all the time say that this villain was too cartoony or that one belonged in a cartoon. Never have I been in 100% agreement with them, until I saw Kurt. Typical of a college antagonist, he is rich, entitled, and has connections to power (his dad is the school president). What makes him such a cartoon is his speech patter and various mannerisms. Think of some of the sleazy guy from your favorite college film and multiply it by 10 and you have this guy.

Comedy. Like many others, I assumed this was a comedy and as such, I went in expecting to have some laughs. Other than a couple of side jokes, this was more of a serious drama than I had intended to view. That being said, I think it works better as a drama than it would a comedy. Does that change the fact that I was disappointed it wasn’t a comedy? No.

Spike. Spike Lee is not my favorite director. As a matter of fact, save for about 3 or 4 of his films, I can’t stand him. Everything he does he has to make sure race is put in there. I can only imagine what he would do if he made a film in today’s climate. This filmmaker obviously studied Lee, because I see a lot of his trademarks in the films, such as close-ups of a group of people, race rap, etc. Is this a good thing? Time will tell.

Dear White People is the kind of film everyone needs to see, but I can easily see how this would be uncomfortable to watch with a mixed crowd. While this is a satire on the racial situation in our country and an allegory for individual freedom, it is also sadly more fact than fiction. Why just this year some fraternity in…I want to say Alabama…was caught and suspended for having a party in blackface. I was talking to a friend the other day about why certain films and cartoons from yesteryear are changed/censored. The answer is that people today are offended by what folks back then didn’t know. Watching this film will educate a few people, I think. Do I recommend it? Well, it isn’t the most interesting picture, but as I said, it needs to be seen, so give it a shot!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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3 Responses to “Dear White People”

  1. Dave, this might be the worst mostly well-intended passage I’ve rrad recently:

    Identity crisis. It may be hard to believe, but most black people don’t go around speaking ebonics, listening to rap music, eating chicken and waffles, etc. As with other stereotypes, there are those that fall into that pigeonhole, but for the most part, most members of the race are well-spoken, educated, upstanding members of their community who don’t wish to be confused with the inferior, for lack of a better term, individuals.

    Why?
    “It may be hard to believe, but most black people don’t go around speaking ebonics, listening to rap music, eating chicken and waffles, etc. ”

    –Who is going to find this hard to believe? An idiot? An ignoramus?

    “As with other stereotypes, there are those that fall into that pigeonhole, but for the most part, most members of the race are well-spoken, educated, upstanding members of their community who don’t wish to be confused with the inferior, for lack of a better term, individuals.”

    –A Whole Lot Better Term, if you must put this any way at all, is to say some might not wish to be so stereotyped–and you think that all the rap fans eat chicken and waffles, and all folks who might grab such a meal are rap fans (or that only black people enjoy either), and that all of either group perhaps speak only in ebonics? An educated, upstanding person can’t choose to use African-American slang and creole terms, have a similar fast-food chicken meal, and listen to rap?

  2. Mystery Man Says:

    thanks for letting me know! lack of sleep and being sick as a dog didn’t help when I was writing this

  3. […] this film. Trust me, it doesn’t get too deep, there is a comedic resolution. This isn’t Dear White People or a Spike Lee joint, after […]

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