Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear White People

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I'm going to take this time to tell you that bacon is pretty awesome...I'm going to eat some bacon now.  I know that has nothing to do with the film but I panicked.




Dear White People – 5 out of 5

As a white man, let me be the first to say that we sometimes can suck and we can suck big time. Aside from the fact that we clearly can’t dance (line dancing is the sad result when we try to dance) but a lot of white people are still harboring a lot of prejudice towards non-whites. We’ve made a lot of strides since the Civil Rights Movement started and MLK gave his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech but racism still boils under the surface. Whether it is white people losing their goddamn minds because Obama became president or the very palpable reality of racial profiling with our police officers, racism is clearly not going to be eradicated anytime soon. However, thankfully, we have films like Dear White People that will come in and ask the hard questions and show the reality of being black in a white world…and they were able to do it with a little humor along the way.
Also along the way, the film provided the cover of what I'm assuming is an acoustic
hipster rock back album.
So, this is what happened to Noah before he met up
with Rick and the crew.
Dear White People focuses on the very prestigious and predominantly white institution for higher learning called Winchester University. The story focuses on various black members of the student body and how they struggle with their identity and how it plays with their race. There’s Sam White (Tessa Thompson) who is causing a commotion with her campus radio show Dear White People.  Then there's Coco Conners (Teryonah Parris), a vlogger on campus who sparks the ridicule of the white students with her videos and is trying to get on a reality show that is casting on campus. There’s Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) who feels the pressure from his father (Dennis Haysbert) to not become the stereotype that so many white people automatically think about black men. Finally there’s Lionel Higgin (Tyler James Williams), a gay man who feels ostracized by everyone on campus but thinks he finds some sort of belonging when he is asked to write about being black at Winchester for the student paper. However, tensions on campus hit a boiling a point when the University President’s son Kurt Fletcher (Kyle Gallner) has his club throw a black face party.
Okay...that is really offensive.  And, sadly, it's becoming a thing at many colleges.
I have no humorous caption for this pic of Sam...wait...
Sam's a boy's name!  Ha! Fuck it, I clearly have nothing
for this picture.
Too often, the world of cinema (and entertainment, in general) isn’t too kind to non-white characters. There’s the tired cliché that black men always die in horror films, the token black character in high school movies that, like they covered in Not Another Teen Movie so well, are designated to only smile and say things like "Damn," "Shit," and the likes, or action films allocating black characters to be drug dealers or thugs. Slowly, these tropes are starting to be feathered out of existence (very slowly) but we still have a long way to go. One thing Dear White People does extremely well is take on these stereotypes head-on and discuss them, asking the questions that a lot of people are uncomfortable with.
Every time someone said Coco's name, I had a craving for hot cocoa...I think I might
be pregnant...or I'm just fat and love food.
I found Lionel's complaining about white people always
touching his hair to be very amusing...mostly because
I have a friend who complains about that problem, too.
There are points in this film where these commentaries illicit some humor—like when Tyler Perry movies are brought up and a confused ticket taker is berated about his films and what they mean to black culture—and there are other points where the film has this commentary and it feels like a Facebook debate—like when Kurt Fletcher makes the ridiculous claim that white people are the true victims in our society. The thing Dear White People does better than anything else is provide commentary about what our race means to the overall big picture in society and how that plays into one's identity, and even better, the film doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. The film ends, after the big black face party leads to a disastrous conflict, with everyone providing their outlook on what it means to belong in one’s race and how this shapes one’s outlook on society and how they act and interact with the environment and people.
Wait...is that Edward Cullen?
I have nothing else to say with this picture of Brandon
P. Bell besides he has a perfect jawline.
Dear White People is also filled with just some amazing performances. While, for me, Tyler James Williams was the actor that I was most captivated with, everyone on this cast is really just amazing in their role. I don’t want to undersell anyone because they were all fantastic—it’s just Williams’ character was the most interesting for me. That being said, Thompson was incredible to watch as Sam and seeing her go from an angry militant to someone who is no longer afraid to show off her vulnerable side is impeccable. Brandon P. Bell hits the pressure his character Troy is under perfectly and has some great scenes with the equally amazing Dennis Haysbert. Hell, even Kyle Gallner as Kurt is great to watch—sure, his character is a loathsome little douche that, sadly, reminds me a lot of the people I went to high school with and find myself throwing up a little in my mouth when they post their "Racist but I’ll Claim I’m Not Racist" Facebook statuses and memes but he plays this role believably.

"At this school, we get Allstate."
Dear White People is a great insight about the pressures of race, the hardships that come with aggression and prejudices towards people, and the difficulties of trying to find identity in a location where you ride a thin line of being a stereotype if you go one way and turn your back on your culture if you go the other way. There’s an unending wit in the characters, the story and even the overall editing and presentation of the plot that makes the film insightful, meaningful and, most of all, damn entertaining.


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