...to Do the Right Thing.
I feel foolish for not having caught this flick in theaters. But when it came out, that was a very busy time in my life. Regardless, I have atoned and managed to watch this quality piece of cinema. Dear White People is a tale of racial (and sexual) ignorance. It is very much a politically motivated comedy of sorts. And it mashes together a series of very necessary thoughts and realizations about the way we as a nation have taken to simply sweeping race issues under the rug... at times even stating the inane idea that racism doesn't exist anymore in America. It's the story of a number of college students vying for political control at their ivy league school, the negative stereotypes being informed at said school upon all of them, and eventually an incredibly ignorant "viral generation" idea for a race themed party...
The saddest thing about Justin Simien's film comes in the end credits when it is made apparent that the concept for this film came from many many actual events that have been quite similar in nature. To say racism doesn't exist in America these days is to have the critical thinking skills of an old broom.
Tessa Thompson gives an exquisite performance bringing harsh reality to an overtly preachy role. And she proves capable of harnessing a soft side amidst all of this. Teyonah Parris surprised me playing a part I would morally be forced to detest if it weren't for the level of humanity she was able to impart... she plays a media-whore reality tv hopeful. In any other situation I would likely be destined to ignore this character, but she brought it to life and Simien's script made the person actually serve a purpose... Bravo! I liked Tyler James Williams a great deal as well, though his role was a lot more showing than telling.
Dear White People is rife with positives. And I really wish I had managed to see it before award season... just so I could complain with everyone else about it not getting nominated. Still it has similar flaws to Do the Right Thing (hence the comparison). The lengths it seems that the leads are forced to go to in order to insight any kind of a reaction from the white members of the student body feel overwhelmingly excessive. The argument stands on radically different legs depending on which film we're referring to however. Do the Right Thing simply targets the wrong people. Dear White People targets the right people, but does not give enough examples of those people actually willingly acting out to deserve our distaste. Perhaps I am being nitpicky on two films that I very much enjoy, and perhaps I can never completely understand every aspect of the moral... though I have been trying and do not intend to quit. But that's my two cents for what it's worth.
If you haven't seen Dear White People yet, I definitely recommend it.