Why Black Lives Don’t Matter Even In Movies
It’s urban folklore and almost goes without saying that in Hollywood movies, if there is a black character on screen, that character will most likely not make it to the end of the movie. This seems about as commonplace a plot line as the guy getting the girl or the hero facing adversity but overcoming those obstacles to eventually emerge triumphant. It is the non negotiable and formulaic nature of Tinsel Town. But why is it that the black guy has to die and is it an urban myth or does it really hold true? Welp, I set out to do some research and it would appear there may be some legs to it.
Below are a list of movies where our friendly neighborhood black man meets his untimely but eminent demise;
- The Shining – Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers)
- Heat – The first member of the criminal gang to get killed during the bank robbery shootout is the getaway driver Donald Breedan
- Red – Morgan Freeman dies first, then turns up alive, then is the first to die for real
- Aliens – Frost is the first major character to go, and Apone isn’t far behind him
- Full Metal Jacket – Corporal Eightball is sent to do recon and first to be abated
- In Gremlins – The black science teacher dies first
- Enter the Dragon plays it straight. Of the three main protagonists, Williams exists only to show off his fabulous afro and be killed by the villain first
- United 93 – Between the two pilots, one is white while the other is black. Give ya three guesses who’s the first to get shanked by the hijackers
- Mars Attacks! – Paul Williams
- Resident Evil: Extinction – The only black guy was the first to be attacked by a zombie
- The Edge – Harold Perrineau is eaten by the bear first
- Alien Nation – Sykes’ original partner
- 3000 Miles to Graceland – Five Elvis impersonators setting out to rob a casino. The black one dies first
- Red Dawn – Black guy dies in the first 2 minutes
- American Psycho – The first victim the film shows Patrick Bateman killing is a homeless black man
- Deep Blue Sea – Of the group of survivors trying to reach the surface Russell Franklin (played by Samuel L. Jackson) dies first
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – The gruff black general is killed by Doctor Doom
- Christine – A black assembly-line worker is the first victim of the killer car
- Wing Commander – When Paladin and Knight are making a torpedo run on a battleship, Knight blows up even though he took just as many hits as Paladin
- X-Men: First Class – Darwin, the only Black mutant/character is killed after only a few minutes onscreen
- Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem – A group of five high school students are ambushed by an Alien inside the high school. Guess which one the Alien kills first
- The Sting – The black character Luther is the first person to die in 1973 film
- Apocalypse Now – The two black guys are the first and second members of the boat crew to die
- Star Trek Into Darkness – A black father is desperate to save his bedridden daughter. The black man commits a suicide terrorist bombing
- The Other Guys – A pair of black policemen fall off a building to their deaths while attempting to pursue a criminal
- Mortal Kombat – Liu Kang’s first opponent ends up having his soul sucked out by Tsung after Liu refuses to finish him, and Art Lean ends up dead
- The Bucket List – Two men diagnosed are terminal illnesses but Morgan Freeman’s character die first at the end
- A Christmas Story – When Ralphie gets his BB gun and fantasizes about shooting the villains, the black guy gets shot first
- The Hangover Part III – Black Doug is shot by Marshall and is the first character to die in the film
- Forrest Gump – An unnamed black Red Shirt gets sniped at the very beginning of the ambush in which Bubba, Forrest’s best friend, dies
- The Karate Kid – The first Cobra Kai kid Daniel-san beats at the karate tournament is black
- Grumpy Old Men – Chuck the black bait shop owner is the first to die
- The Hunger Games – Catching Fire the first district they go to on the victory tour contains the first and only death. That district is prominently black people
Now some may argue “What’s the big deal? Someone’s gotta die in these movies and at least the black actor got a chance to work so no harm no foul.” The same argument I will make for Tyler Perry movies (which I abhor) is the same argument I will make for this; The black actor may be working but if the overall harm done to society is net negative, maybe the paycheck wasn’t worth it.
The black actor may be working but if the overall harm done to society is net negative, maybe the paycheck wasn’t worth it.
If the effect of seeing black actors constantly killed on film (particularly black males) is to be desensitized to the loss of black life (particularly black males) then maybe the paycheck wasn’t worth it. This may be yet another instance of art imitating life and vice versa but can there really be any benefit from consistently reinforcing this stereotype? Does it then translate into kids growing up to become cops who don’t think twice about black lives? Some may think that to be a stretch but consider this; most of us have only interacted with people and places we’ve never physically seen and been to through film and television.
If you’ve never known any African Americans personally then your only frame of reference will be their portrayal on the boob tube or big screen. Coupled with antiquated (and quite frankly racist) practices of casting directors and writers in which the main characters are traditionally Caucasian males while the minority is typically the villain or expendable, It would seem that even on screen, black lives don’t matter.
Review: Godzilla vs. Kong
Godzilla vs. Kong reminds me that I was an idiot as a child. I allowed the 4:30 Movie too significant a piece of my brain pie. I existed in a headspace where The Planet of the Apes and Gamera were more science than fiction. I was certain skyscraper-sized monsters lived in the woods a few blocks away, and that ghosts were under my bed. Somewhere in possibility-land, a black and white Lon Chaney slowly becomes a werewolf in a handful of dissolving frames.
Cut to my final form, and I can’t help but think these movies are just a total waste of time and resources. Sure, the effects can be impressive but often they have as much weight as a video game. Buildings smash into dust, an actor says a line against a green screen, then Kong sits on a throne like a stereotypical king. Ah doi!
Sure, the hollow Earth with upside-down mountains in the sky is cool – but where’s that sun coming from? The MechaGodzilla fight has some great effects, but you can watch those on Youtube without having to sit through a bunch of lines like “Kong bows to no one.”
Maybe I just can’t enjoy normal human things anymore.
Now that Captain America is Black…
Now that Captain America is Black
- Bucky Barnes will change his name to Summer Soldier Buckquan because “Nah son! we ain’t doing sh*t in the winter!”
- Fearing for their lives, Police officers will fire 751 shots at Cap in the 4th of many incidents to come.
- In a new altered timeline, Thanos will win due to Cap being detained by a routine traffic stop. “How can you afford Vibraniun on a government salary? Please step out of the vehicle sir.”
- Captain America will form a Rap group with Black Panther called “Black-America.” The group will not be received well but will eventually have all their intellectual property stolen for decades to come without any due repar… I mean royalties. #MESSAGE
- Racists will be utterly confused when they tell Captain America to “Go back to where you came from.” Equally confused, Cap will pack up all his belongings and stay put.
- Cap will be accused of stealing Thor’s hammer the next time he picks it up.
- Cap’s shield will be replaced with a Vibraniun PlayStation Controller since black men are more comfortable throwing that.
- The battle decree will officially be changed from “Avengers Assemble” to “Yerrrrr! It’s on sight!”
- After 40 years of service, Cap will travel back in time to 1998 to finally get that last dance with his true love, Laura Winslow. They will Cha Cha Slide to “Before I let Go” as the credits role.
- Upon retirement, those jaded with having an Af-Am do such an amazing job will appoint a failed real estate charlatan to take up the mantle. The New Cap will immediately try and grab Scarlet by her “Johansson” and declare himself the best Captain America that ever did it during his inauguration.
Chadwick Boseman Forever!!
It is clear that Chadwick Boseman chose iconic roles like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Black Panther with deliberate intent and for a specific purpose. In an age where positive roles for Black actors is often sparse, Chadwick managed to land and portray historical figures that made most respect his talents if not revel in his ability to transition effortlessly for one character to another. Even I had to give his African accent a solid B+ (It’s the highest grade the Nigerian Standards Bureau can give for an African accent to a non African FYI.)
Holding out and preparing for these dynamic roles came with both great frustration and incredible resolve I’m certain. Not to mention the taxing ordeal of battling Colon Cancer as the grueling scheduling of filming and increasing responsibility for positive representation loomed. Even under extreme duress, Chadwick’s commitment to others appeared to outweigh his own tribulations, unbeknownst to us all.
Black Panther may have been just a movie to some and that may be because some can easily rattle off 10 movies with a king of non Af-Am origin. It represented a lot more to others. Albeit imagined, imagery on cinema often accomplishes more to augment the social narrative and society itself than actual reality. If negative stereotypes influence perception then positive ones absolutely have the same converse effect.
Even in jest, the cultural misappropriation of raisins in potato salad on SNL skits directly spoke to the tampering of black culture to which T’challa championed, represented and aptly responded “Oh hell Nah Karen!”
If you don’t understand the relevance of representation, it’s probably because you are thoroughly represented. After all, no one is ever grateful for every breath they take until they are gasping for air.
R.I.P Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for breathing life into the possibility of Black excellence.