An ugly thought rushes to mind while reading select critics eviscerate “Green Book.”
Could it be that some people don’t want racial progress?
“Green Book,” nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, tells the true story of the friendship between a white New York driver and a black pianist. The narrative focuses on how they met, the driver’s racist views and how spending time together helped them grow as people as well as friends.
It’s a beautiful tale, impeccably acted with a haymaker of a closing scene. And yes, many awards groups showered the movie with praise.
And yet some insist the movie isn’t woke enough. That came to a head this week when not one but two far-left talk shows attacked the movie’s racial prism.
First up: Seth Meyers’ skit on his NBC late night show:
The faux movie trailer didn’t directly address sequences from “Green Book.” The timing proved obvious, though. “Green Book” is another “White Savior” movie, the video said, lumping it in with similar films.
Showtime’s new talk show, “Desus & Mero,” debuted with a skit mocking the film for epitomizing “White Guilt.”
The key quote from the clip, which isn’t very funny or well acted, comes from a peculiar critic: “Literally every black person.”
“It’s not our job to make white people feel better about race stuff.”
Or, try this line from a racist cop character:
“Racism is over now because of me, a white man!”
Talk about a straw man argument. No one would argue “Green Book” takes that position.
More importantly, why can’t Hollywood make a movie about a man learning to reject his racist ways? Isn’t that a noble effort? Saying movies like “Green Book” make white movie goers feel better is insulting. Why would you need to be white to enjoy a beautifully told story about moving past one’s bigotry?
But here’s where these social critics are even more incorrect.
Let’s start with the obvious. “Green Book,” like the similarly derided “The Upside,” is based on a true story. So showing a white man and a black man bonding is reality. Period. Hollywood has every right to bring true stories to the screen.
Mahershala’s character Don does, indeed, help his driver mature. Don shows Tony the error of his ways, but never with a lecture or sermon. Don goes so far as to smooth out the rough patches in Tony’s marriage.
He’s a black savior, except that is termed a “magical negro” in some circles.
Mortensen’s Tony, meanwhile, protects Don from some potential danger. He keeps Don’s Southern musical tour afloat and the pianist out of jail.
Yes, Tony is a New York lunk on the surface, but to judge him based on that primary color portrait is wrong. He possesses an agile mind, one open to change if given the chance.
Don learns to appreciate his friend’s unique gifts, dismissing the early impression of Tony as an ignorant fool. They both grow, and learn and come to respect people from wildly different backgrounds.
It’s a white and black savior movie, to be accurate.
The film conveys that growth organically, with director Peter Farrelly never applying the gas too hard in any given scene. One sequence drew the ire of the NAACP: Tony introduces Don to fried chicken.
The scene happened after Farrelly conducted intensive conversations with both Ali and Octavia Spencer, a black woman who served as an executive producer on the film. The director wanted to make sure he handled the moment with great care, given the stereotypical connection with fried chicken.
That collaboration matters. It also diminishes those eager to challenge why a white man like Farrelly could, or should, make a movie about racism.
Hollywood liberals are having a curious moment when it comes to race relations.
We just learned about a black actor who tried to stoke racial unrest to further his career. Whenever a racial incident emerges, like with the aforementioned Jussie Smollett hoax, some of those same liberals are quick to label it emblematic of our racist society, rather than a rare, regrettable blast of hate.
Could it be that when someone on the far Left sees a film where racism loses out to love, friendship and understanding, it doesn’t promote their agenda of an America beyond redemption?
It’s a tough question. Let’s look at the Meyers clip again.
The sequence mocks how the racist character in the faux movie ends up growing past his hate to embrace the main black character.
Isn’t that a good thing? Do we want to dismiss someone, even a fictional character, with racist views entirely? Isn’t it better for them to grow, moving past hate toward love? Isn’t that something we’d love to see in real life -- bigoted people learning the error of their ways?
Redemption matters. It heals us as a culture. Given the country’s racist past, healing is paramount to a brighter future.
It sounds absurd to suggest people who claim to be against racism, like woke liberals in and out of Hollywood, would be against a film that promotes racial healing. Then again, who could imagine gay rights voices coming out against a policy decriminalizing homosexuality across the globe?