January 13, 2006, - 6:51 am

This Weekend’s Race-Based Movies Uplift at Expense of Healing

Lately, race seems to be Hollywood’s silver screen obsession of choice.
This weekend, there are two such race-based movies making their debut. Both are feel-good, uplifting movies. But they “uplift” at the expense of healing the racial divide.
Both movies, “Glory Road” and “Last Holiday“, are entertaining. But they employ racism against Whites that would never be accepted in the reverse. And both films raise questions regarding when Hollywood will stop focusing on race at the box office–and what possible good the tactic achieves.
One of these films, “Glory Road,” is billed as a fact-based movie. But, in fact, it takes huge liberties with the truth. The other, “Last Holiday,” an entertaining fantasy, unnecessarily uses bumbling and evil White characters. It’s time for both types for both tactics to end . . . if Hollywood wants to stop the red ink gushing from its silver screen bottom line.

“Last Holiday”, starring Queen Latifah and co-starring LL Cool J, is the story of a lower middle-class, unappreciated department store clerk, Georgia Byrd (Latifah), living a sad and lonely life of unrealized dreams. She finds out she has three weeks to live when it is discovered that she has malignant tumors in her brain. Georgia decides to cash in all her stocks and bonds to live out her Walter Mitty fantasies in her last days at a swanky Czechoslovakian resort, right out of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”
“Last Holiday” is charming, fun, entertaining, and features beautiful cinematography. For those of us who’ve never lived it up at a lavish resort, this movie is almost like experiencing it vicariously through Georgia. And it’s very funny.
But it is also heavy on subtle reverse-racism. Almost all White characters in “Last Holiday” are evil, dopey, or both. And vice versa, with the exception of a light-skinned, Uncle Tom Senator who might as well be White. Then, there’s the big-business-is-evil premise intertwined subtly woven into the race issue, too. The flashy, evil, lecherous, White magnate (played by Timothy Hutton)–who owns the department store at which Georgia worked–is the villain.
Georgia and Sean (LL Cool J), the man of her dreams, are pure and, again, the White characters aren’t. We get the message.
On the other hand, the movie has a couple of very positive themes throughout: Georgia’s deep belief in G-d despite knowing she will soon die without living a full life; and the message that one should try to live every day to the fullest possible. It’s too bad the subtle race, class, and anti-business messages were mixed in.
Then, there’s “Glory Road”, which depicts the real-life story of how Coach Don Haskin led Texas Western’s amazing 1966 NCAA basketball championship win over the Kentucky Wildcats, the first championship team to feature an all-Black starting line-up. The movie depicts the team’s entire Cinderella season and how Haskins built it from nothing into a powerhouse by daring to cross racial lines in recruiting.
I saw “Glory Road” at a special screening for the friends, family, and neighbors of the late Bobby Joe Hill, one of those players (he hailed from the Detroit area’s Highland Park). I was one of four White people in the entire theater. That is important only because I saw and heard the largely Black audience cheer anti-White parts of the movie, and wondered how films like this can possibly help America. The audience jeered stark examples of racism against the Black players in the movie, but laughed when the Black players repeatedly called Whites “honkies” and “crackers”.
Yes, it is a tremendous achievement that the championship Texas Western team depicted in the movie won against all odds, including racism. But is repeatedly focusing on race a good thing? Judging from the hooting and jeering at the movie, I’m not quite sure.
Then, there is the major lie in the movie–a movie whose promoters and sports media galore have been claiming is truthful: The reason Haskins started the all-Black line-up in the championship game. And actually, the version shown in the movie is an insult to these Black players, but a boon for affirmative action and reverse racism supporters.
In “Glory Road,” Haskins calls a meeting of the players the night before the championship game. He tells them that he will only be starting and playing his Black players because he wants to make a statement to America about civil rights. It’s an important scene in the movie.
But it never happened.
USA Today reports that Haskins said “it never occurred to him to put anybody but his best players on the court. It just happened that his five starters were black, which prior to that moment was unheard of in a national championship game.”
In his book, “Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever,” (on which this movie is supposed to be based)Haskins wrote: “All I ever sought to do was win the game. I certainly did not expect to be some racial pioneer or change the world.”
Clearly, Haskins did not pick these players for the Big Game because of their race–but because they were the BEST players on his team.
And that’s the problem with this glut of race-based movies. They send the wrong message–a false message. And they usually seem to only serve to divide.
Whether at the movies or otherwise, the more we focus on race in America, the less likely we will ever get away from problems associated with it.
And that can’t be good for America.

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17 Responses

I just can’t even consider seeing a film with Queen Latifah. Yet another how does she keep finding work? example. I don’t watch movies with rap stars, chick flicks, or the old evil white men cliche.

The_Man on January 12, 2006 at 10:46 pm

I’ve changed my mind since your updated column. I might go see “Last Holiday” and definitely will NOT see “Glory Load.” “Glory Load” could probably have been a good movie without the race shenanigans.
How ironic, Haskins picked the best players, who were black. But, the movie makers actually have disrespected the players by portraying them as inferior, not earning the starting positions because of merit but only to make a statement. If I was a black guy or one of the players I’d be highly offended and protest on every news and talk show I could get on.

The_Man on January 12, 2006 at 11:50 pm

Well,here are two of my favorites…’Men Of Honor’
with Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding about the Navy’s first black diver…and ‘Round Midnight’ with jazz sax player Dexter Gordon
which I believe was racially ripped off for best picture at The Oscar’s by Paul Newman’s ‘Color of Money’ in 1986;even better-
read ‘Dance Of The Infidels’by Francis Paudras about his relationship with jazz pianist Bud Powell which ‘Midnight’ is based on.

jaywilton on January 13, 2006 at 10:50 am

Debbie, your comments on these two movies are interesting but there’s hardly anything new here.
Perhaps you’re too young to remember “Roots,” the award-winning miniseries based on Alex Haley’s best-selling novel supposedly based on his researching his own family’s history back to its African origins (he later settled out of court with another black author who sued him for plagiarism, as I recall).
“Roots” was a tremendous success. Almost half the country saw it, or parts of it–reportedly 85% of TV-owning households. It was even shown in schools to children who in some cases came home crying, saying they “didn’t know we’d done such horrible things,” and were deeply ashamed because they were white.
And no wonder. As I remember the miniseries, every white person in it was drunken, lecherous, stupid, brutish, cruel, cowardly, treacherous, morally weak, or some combination of these. Every black character on the other hand was noble, kind, courageous, generous, intelligent, loyal and imbued with the finest elements of African culture, with the possible exception of Chicken George who was only half black–the result of a white man raping a black woman, of course–and therefore not as noble as others.
That miniseries was nearly 30 years ago. Running a Google on it just now I see that it is characterized as “one of television’s landmark programs” and “was credited with having a positive impact on race relations, expanding the nation’s sense of history,” etc., etc. I presume “positive impact” means anything that puts down whites and makes them feel properly guilty about being white, while reinforcing blacks’ feelings of perpetual victimization.
But there have been many other movies since that followed the same general line. For a real pip, see “A Time to Kill,” a p.c. pandering fiction in which a black man is portrayed as heroic for murdering in cold blood the two white men who raped his young daughter. Now apart from the fact that that’s exactly the reverse of the rapists’ and victim’s races in every case of interracial gang rape I’ve ever seen in the news, can you imagine anyone making a movie applauding a WHITE man for murdering BLACKS who raped his daughter?

Neil H. on January 13, 2006 at 11:07 am

Now, now, Debbie, this is the HOprah Era. HOprah and her zombies have made popular the “fake but accurate” defense these days. As long as it’s a good story and HOprah digs you, lying is OK.
I think I’ll try to become an NBA coach and start a team of all white players to make a statement since white guys are being discriminated against in the NBA.

Jeff_W on January 13, 2006 at 12:35 pm

Hey Neil, perhaps you should make a mini-series about all the positive aspects of slavery.

Clompo on January 13, 2006 at 1:10 pm

I never watch a movie with Latifah in it, so that one is out. Basketball movies in general are boring, so that one is out. I have learned that in order to keep my blood pressure down I have to avoid these race based movies on t.v . and in the theater. They are making movies that appeal to people who buy bootleg tapes and don’t bother to attend the theaters, which could be one reason Hollywood is dying at the box office.

CoolToTheEnd on January 13, 2006 at 1:55 pm

Hollywood brainwashes America against Eastern Europeans. I am very proud of my Eastern European heritage and I’ve had to get used to the defamatory stuff about us in the media. These movies even brainwash black people against us, even though we’ve never done anything to them (very much unlike the Arabs and other Middle Eastern Muslims, who the lying black leaders are in bed with). Lots of conservatives don’t understand or know much about Eastern Europeans, but it’s only the left-wingers who actually go so far as to hate and attack us. That’s because they want to sweep it under the rug that anyone can be oppressed by Communists or (for many centuries) Muslims. Plus, they hate our traditional outlook, our discipline and our commitment to survival. That’s against what they stand for. They let scummy cultures pollute the melting pot but they keep ours out for that reason.

KnightoftheImpaler on January 13, 2006 at 2:58 pm

You should give the Queen a chance CoolToTheEnd. She’s actually a pretty good actress.
Also, basketball movies aren’t boring. Ever see Hoosiers? Another one of my favs is Blue Chips.

Clompo on January 13, 2006 at 4:08 pm

> Hey Neil, perhaps you should make a mini-series
> about all the positive aspects of slavery.
Well, “Clompo,” I don’t think I can do that. Perhaps you could make one explaining why American whites today, most of whom didn’t even have ancestors in the U.S. during the slavery years, should feel guilty about the enslavement of blacks 150+ years ago. Particularly since virtually all of them were enslaved and then sold by their black African brothers in the first place–another little detail which “Roots” neglected to touch on.
Indeed, slavery is still practiced widely in Africa today. Perhaps someone there could make your “positive aspects of slavery” miniseries for you.

Neil H. on January 13, 2006 at 7:04 pm

Uh, what does that have to do with Roots? Exactly how were you expecting slave owners to be portrayed in that movie?
I understand what you’re saying about about a lot of people expecting white people to feel guilty over something they or their ancestors had no part of, but I was talking about the movie. The slave owners should be portrayed as villians.

Clompo on January 13, 2006 at 8:29 pm

Of course there are no positive aspects of slavery, but how come the media is afraid to address the fact that the Arab Muslims were the first ones to open up an African slave market and the last ones to close it? There’s a double standard in Hollywood when it comes to dealing with White atrocities vs. those of the Muslim world. Just like Spielberg makes movies that rightly condemn anti-Semitic genocide by the Nazis but turns around and makes a movie showing anti-Semitic Muslim murderers in a sympathetic light. Hollywood is too politically correct to take on Islamic terror past or present. If we’re going to continue to focus on the rape of Africa and oppression of Blacks, at least mention the huge Islamic involvement in it.

KnightoftheImpaler on January 14, 2006 at 12:04 am

I saw in the ad for that Queen Latifah movie that LL Cool J ends up kissing her. Maybe next time the producers can get Mo’Nique playing the love interest for Denzel.

shleppy on January 14, 2006 at 7:31 am

KnightoftheImpaler, you are Romanian/Rumanian.
Yes, everyone, slave owners are nasty people. So also are Hollywood types for their deceit and the reverse racists.
Blacks are worse racists than whites. It is interesting to note that black slaveowners in Africa have not fought wars or liberated their slaves out of conscience. Whites have. Why, you may ask. It is simple…G-d. The Arabs are Muslims and the Africans (those in power, anyway) are either Muslim or adhere to some other form of idolatry. History has shown that it has only been Christians (Jews were not in power) who have liberated their slaves with/without a war. The English liberated their slaves due to the years of hard work by William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament who converted to Christianity under the influence of John Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace.” Newton knew of G-d’s grace because he converted to Christianity after years of being the captain of a slave ship.
Now, THAT would make a great movie!!!

Loser on January 15, 2006 at 4:49 pm

> Uh, what does that have to do with Roots?
Clompo, it has
b everything
to do with “Roots.” The miniseries was blatant anti-white propaganda, portraying all whites as evil, insensitive and immoral, all blacks as relatively moral, sensitive and good.
> Exactly how were you expecting slave owners to
> be portrayed in that movie?
b realistically
would have been nice.
> The slave owners should be portrayed as
> villians.
b All
slave owners? You’re saying that for example Thomas Jefferson should be portrayed as a villain? How about George Washington?
Perhaps you aren’t aware that slavery was practiced worldwide throughout human history, and no serious effort was made to stop it until the 19th century. It was regarded as a perfectly natural state of affairs. American Indians practiced slavery, as did the Aztecs and Inca. So did the Chinese, Japanese and other Asiatics. So did black Africans and Arabs (both of whom still do, to some degree). So did Greeks and Romans of classical times, as well as many other peoples and cultures. Go all the way back to Biblical times and earlier, and you will find people practicing slavery with not a single negative comment about it. The most highly regarded people in the world owned slaves. Was Abraham a villain because he owned slaves?
It is simply nonsensical to try to apply 20th and 21st century moral standards to those who lived in earlier times, on this subject. As a practical matter, the rejection of slavery as an acceptable practice among civilized peoples only began in the 19th century–and in fact, in the U.S. at that time it was extremely troubling to some people who owned slaves themselves (often because they had inherited them). Washington, Jefferson and many others were slave owners but wanted to see an end to slavery. It was white men in the U.S. who led the world in freeing the slaves, at least in this hemisphere. (Brazil still had slavery until the 1880s, and I believe they had more slaves than we ever did.)

Neil H. on January 15, 2006 at 6:32 pm

I agree with Loser that unlike Islam, Christianity has been very involved in anti-slavery efforts. That’s not to say there weren’t Christians involved in slavery, but in general Christianity has been a force against it and Islam undoubtedly a force for it. And yes, my heritage is Romanian. Back where my family is from, the Muslim Ottomans used to enslave young Christian males as janissaries.

KnightoftheImpaler on January 16, 2006 at 10:12 pm

Wow where do I start….ok the the movie. Race is a issue in our country. You dont need to point fingures, just ask your self, how would I wanted to be treated. I think most comments about each other races are derived from fear, pain, and anger. We all fall victoms to those emotions. But remember, some people are react differently. The movid Glory road is more then black and white. Its the game and history event that changed the image of black atheletes in american. Without that game, there is no Charles Barkley, Jordan or Magic. They all said it them selves. Prior to this game, there were black players being recruited, but people actually believed that black athletes could not play basketball with out being guided by a white person. Its a good movie. We can all learn from the past and move on. Just take the movie for what it is. A movie about overcomming adversity and pushing your self. Its for everybody. Now for the other movie, the last holiday. I dont really know. Movies vilify everybody but I guess they segmented for those who feel victomized.

Rush03 on January 17, 2006 at 3:55 pm

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