There are only so many chances we black folk get to play roles of significance in major Hollywood films. I know what you’re thinking: “But Blog-writer, I can’t help but watch Halle Berry in the role that made her career whenever it comes on TV. “BAPS” was my shit.” My response would be that I’m not talking about those BET Blackbusters that come on, or the leading roles many Black folk play in episodes of “Cops.” What I’m talking about are major motion pictures that get national distribution. And I mean movies where a majority of the cast is Black. This really narrows things down to “Pride,” “The Great Debaters,” “Stomp the Yard,” and precious few others. Well, the Black community has been a-buzz with news about the new George Lucas-produced film “Red Tails.”
“Courage Has No Color” is the tagline, but apparently, the color of courage in this film is light-skinned. Really, the leading actors in this film are just about the most light-skinned black male actors you cold possibly find. They are a Dream Team of Luster Oil Sheen-using, Pink Oil Moisturizer-buying brothas. Naturally, the go-to light-skinned actor Hollywood goes-to first: Terrence Howard.
Terrence here is taking another swing as a light-skinned Airmen that he played in the first Iron Man movie. Reeling from his loss of the part in Iron Man 2 to the darker, and thus more powerful, Don Cheadle, Howard here plays Colonel A.J. Bullard of the Tuskegee Airmen . Other notable Black actors in Red Tails include believe it or not Method Man, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and everyone’s favorite C’mon-son-you-want-us-to-believe-you-are-straight R&B sensation Ne-Yo. Ok, enough light-skinned dude slander, at least as far as this post is concerned. The true story here is the . . . true story of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Comprising the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Corps, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the history of our Armed Services. These dudes were the definition of Heroes in every aspect. Fighting against a segregated Armed Forces, and naturally paternalistic white military officers who resisted Black Airmen, the good brothas embarked on 15,533 combat sorties over the course of 1578 missions. Judgeth the swag for yourself with some real photos after the jump.
Even more impressive than the stellar record of performance from a group of Men who the entire military-industrial complex thought were too inferior to even fly a plane, is the fact that George Lucas succeeded in getting the film made. Honestly it was a struggle. I mentioned earlier how precious-few mostly black casts you’ve seen in Hollywood and Surprise, Surprise, the studio system initially didn’t think this movie would work. Let George Lucas tell you about it:
They told this man, who has made two of arguably the greatest franchises in film history: Star Wars and Indiana Jones, that “Red Tails” would never work. Oh. You see, that’s indicative of the problem Blacks in America face. Not only is America ashamed of all the Bull-Connor-hoses-and-Rotweiler fuckery they put us through, but the American film industry can’t even let us be Great and have an inspirational action movie that highlights one of the rare instances when they did let us be Great . . . and we actually were Great. The film industry is just one more facet of a Nation that is still uneasy with its Black population. We are still somehow seen as fringe even though we’ve been here since just a lil while after John Smith got drunk and attempted to smang Pocahontas.
Despite my general animosity toward all things Ne-Yo, I’m going to go see “Red Tails,” and you should too.
Continue to Question the World Around You.