What kind of movies do you like to see?
A Thai student recently asked me why I didn’t show more diverse films in my class. I teach at a school with very little diversity (students, faculty, curriculum).
I thought back to two disastrous screenings of Daughters of the Dust a 1991 movie by Julie Dash. Most of the white students hated it. The few students of color were uncomfortable. Daughters of the Dust is one of my favorite movies. Beautifully shot and an engaging nonlinear story. I knew it wouldn’t be a crowd pleaser but I was disheartened by the response.
But people like what they like.
“The heart wants what it wants.” Woody Allen
The ultimate defense.
What I can’t help but observe is that what many viewers tend not to like is any point of view that isn’t their own, or ironically in the case of people of color or women, the view of white male protagonists.
I appreciate a good popcorn movie as much as anyone. Translation: big budget, lots of action with a white male at its center. Or someone acting very much like one — Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft. Or when someone (Will Smith, Denzel Washington) ‘slips’ through in a role originally written for a white actor.
All good. But I want a world where other stories can be celebrated as well.
Now how can that happen?