Monday, March 1, 2010
The White Messiah
So have you realized the most recent growing trend in movies today?
It's something that started with movie like Dances with Wolves and Kevin Costner. Then it shifted over to things like The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. In it's latest incarnation it has come to settle with Sam Worthington in his starring role in the recent hit Avatar.
This is what I'd like to call The White Messiah Complex.
Essentially, the complex folds out as follows.
1) Native peoples/creatures/humanoids, that aren't white, are living peacefully... usually in harmony with nature or an astounding sense of honor - or both.
2) Natives come into contact with white people.
3) White people fuck everything up. This is usually accomplished by trying to achieve some machismo filled ideal of ruling over nature or that guns and shooting people are better than honorable martial arts style combat - or both.
4) Semi-random and slightly important white person comes into contact with native population. This is usually someone who's already an outsider in the white community, supposedly, adding to his ability to relate to the natives.
5a) This white person eventually becomes better at EVERYTHING that these native people have been doing in a far far shorter time span than any of them ever could. In the process he normally pisses off either the guy in charge or the guy who's next in line to be in charge - or both.
5b) If there is any female of any importance to the native people in pretty much anyway, then she starts to fall crazily in love with the white guy.
6) White guy becomes leader, or at the very least on equal footing with the leader, of the natives and helps them to rebel against the other white people. Therefore, solidifying his place as the hero of the people.
7) (This is sort of a sub-clause) If the leader hasn't already died, then the leader dies. In this case the white person becomes the new leader.
Essentially, this narrative sets up a story in which people of color, not just black people, literally cannot fend for themselves against the big white menace without the help of a white person. More than that, this white person is simply better at everything they've even attempted to do and takes to it all far faster than any of them. So in helping to overthrow the white dominance that these people are being subjected to he instead subjects them to a new kind. A sort of white dominance lite if you will.
Thank goodness though there are certain old movies being remade which are essentially spitting in the face of this idea. One of which is the "The Karate Kid" remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. In this film it shows a person of color being helped by another person of color in order to beat up other persons of color... if only it was white people then maybe I'd be a little more happy.