Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Okay, so I recently saw Lee Danies’ The Butler. Now, to start off, it was a great movie; however…
I’m going to be blatantly honest (like I love to be, as a Black female well aware of the history between Black & Whites throughout American history, who is constantly surrounded by White ppl., who has enough things to rage on by my own d*mn self & already (somewhat)hates ppl. in general, you may want to avoid this issue, for sanity reasons. This movie triggers in Black ppl. (&, by extension, ppl. of color in general, assuming you aren’t one of those idiots who thinks “race issues don’t affect you”) what I like to call “Black rage”.
‘Black rage? Waddya mean?’ Well, I’ll tell you exactly what I mean. Basically, it’s that deep seated hidden anger & resentment any Black person painfully aware of racial tensions between Whites & Blacks that exist now would have; that are painfully aware of how, not too long ago, segregation, Blacks being hosed down by the police in addition to having German Shepherds sicked on them b/c they were in the wrong place at the wrong time (definitely happened during marches and peaceful protests); the persecution and mistreatment those front and center during the Civil Rights movement suffered; & a whole slew of other unfortunate events that happened not all that long ago. Additionally, it’s that hatred that can boil over whenever a major event (like the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case), painful reminders of how it used to be for Black ppl. (documentaries on Blacks. from that time period, this movie, etc.), & other events that eventually lead to that realization that you try to keep buried inside that that White friend of yours, as long as they’re White, they pretty much have a relative cakewalk in life; i.e., beyond harsh life events we all may suffer through regardless of race, it’s not like they have to worry about potentially not receiving a job or promotion b/c the color of their skin, or worry about what bulls**t politicians are going to pull to essentially limit the voting rights of minorities but coming up with laws that namely affect minorities, or having their rights infringed on at all for that matter from a racial standpoint (I know you can probably come up with examples where this is not the case, but if you’re doing then you’re missing the freakin’ point), etc., etc. Nope, they’re White, & as long as they stick to predominantly White populated countries, they don’t really have to have a care in the world (as far as race issues are concerned & being negatively affected by them).
Slight side note, it’s because of this why I always find it “hilarious” when I run across the White person uncomfortable with talking about race…really? You’re White, what do you have to worry about? Oh, is it the whole potential White guilt thing? Well, tough tits, it’s because of your ancestors & what they did in the past that (negatively) affect race relations today between all races, you’re just going to have to live with it, since, you know, race issues affect everyone, it’s just a matter of context as far as what race issues in particular.
Also, let me preemptively do the back-peddle of I don’t believe all White ppl. are racist/only White ppl. can be racist (granted, if that was your first thought when reading this, you ARE a racist & I don’t care what race you are, not to mention a complete idiot but whatevs, they exist too) but when you think about it, in the face of invisible privilege/white privilege, it doesn’t really matter if you are or aren’t a racist, you still reap the benefits from your skin color (yes, at least invisible privilege can be applied to a broader sense, but, again, if that’s your first thought you completely missed the point & are a total idiot), & in the end, it really doesn’t matter how you treat other races, as far as America’s concerned, you still have a certain ‘higher ground’ to minorities which isn’t affected whatsoever by if you are or aren’t a racist, which leads me right off this tangent back to my whole “Black rage” breakdown.
***(This is the point where I strongly encourage you to turn away if you get offended whenever someone expresses their disdain at the usage of the N word by Blacks. It’s not pretty, it’s downright mean-spirited, & it will get you fired up. Don’t worry, I’ll prompt you to when you can start reading again)***
In addition to the whole ‘Whitey still wins in the end anyway’ aspect, at least to me, there’s also this same rage & contempt to today’s Black youth.
This whole ‘rage against today’s Black youth’ can literally be summed up with some Blacks trying to justify the usage of the N word on each other, as a term of endearment no less, & the whole “taking back the word” poorly misinformed load of bulls**t. There’s a whole lot I can say about this, best summed up with “No, no, & hellz nah!!” to the whole b.s. laissez faire of justifying using this word, but there’s also the more practical, academic route of the word “nigger” (I still hate saying the word, let alone typing it, even if I’m using the word properly) which means meant/referred to an ignorant person. So, trying to justify the usage of the word with “taking it back” is made further stupid when you realize you’re essentially trying to “take back” a word that means ignorant anyway…the level of irony is slapstickingly high when you think about it that way. &, again, no, no, no, hellz nah! Using poor literacy doesn’t make it any better (so, being/feigning illiterate/illiteracy justifies using a word that meant ‘ignorant’ anyway..? That’s too stupid for words at that point >.>) & still doesn’t & does freakin’ count; you’re still saying “nigger”, you’re still proving & showing how dumb you are & somewhat justifying older Blacks disdain for the Black youth (granted, using it yourselves, older Negroes, isn’t really setting a good example now is it? Do you see how this stupidity is generational? & older ppl. act like they know so d*mn much X/).
Again, I’m paraphrasing what is a whole entire decade long rant in & of itself, let me add yet more fuel to the burning conflagration I’ve already started, but first another tangent; God forbid if you’re non-Black (namely White) & play the whole “why can’t I say it too?” game. Why the f**k do you need to say it, save quoting something/someone else??? Do you need to say it? No, so STFU & stop playing that bulls**t game, next you’ll be screaming some other foolishness like reverse racism b/c some college or another didn’t accept yo—oh, wait…& they wonder why I hate ppl. X/ So, back on point, more fuel to the fire; I also have the oppressively hardcore belief that if you are one of those Black ppl. that ‘don’t see a problem with using the word’, ‘we’re saying ‘nigga’ not ‘nigger’ it’s completely different, or my personal fav ‘taking the word back’…you deserve to be called the N word with every possible negative connotation for that word, ‘cause, at this point you’re practically living up to every negative connotation of the word, so why not just use to its full potential since we’re already here & all?
Why the f**k do you even need the word, just like the dumba$$ “cracker a$$ cracker” that’s baffled they can’t say it but Blacks can, you’re equally in a “why the f**k do you need to say it though???” situation. It doesn’t need to be used, there are other words that can also fit the bill (‘Negroe plz’ isn’t harsh enough..?), & what crack did you smoke that made you think “’Nigger’, now that’s a word that needs to be taken back!” Don’t see Hispanics doing that with Spic…or Asians with ‘slant eyes’…or Native Americans doing that with any derogatory term used for them…so why are some Blacks playing dumba$$ when it comes to arguably the most offensive derogatory term for another racial group ever (again, the irony levels are mindbogglingly high when you think about it & the original meaning of the word). Especially jarring with the alarming rate of how many Blacks use this & how diehard a decent amount of them are about defending its usage (this is usually where I would put “B/c of hood rats/Ghetto negroes, this is why we can’t have nice things” type complaint but like everything else, I have to slap on the disclaimer ‘not all Ghetto ppl./hood rats believe in using the word’ & then the whole thing would get just too messy).
However, notice how I try to give the bare minimal credit that at least these ppl. (“’These ppl’?! Whaddya mean ‘these ppl.’?!”) know that the word is bad in the first place but use it anyway. We’re not going to talk about the “dumba$$ Niggers” who use the word & have no idea the history behind the word. For these ppl. we pray a divine intervention will soon come that will enlighten them of their dumba$$ ways & cause them to turn a new better leaf…
More backpedaling! Yes, you have old Blacks that use the N word to, yes, they are also “dumba$$ N___s” that deserve to be called the N word in both the actual meaning of the word & the derogatory term of the word. Also, hint hint, don’t try defending, or slamming me with a lot of negative comments about this, there’s a reason why I have my blog set so that I have to approve comments before they’re posted, & more importantly, it’s unjustifiable to me, so there’s really no point anyway -.- Moving right along.
***(Okay, mean-spirited rant over about the usage of the N word, now you can con’t reading again)***
In addition to the above rant, there’s also this general disconnect today’s youth has with racial issues & the racial climate during the history of America to now that is a part of “Black rage”. Minor backstory; it’s my personal belief that the only difference between now & the racial tension & prejudice of the 60s & earlier is that things have just moved behind closed doors. Sure, technically there are no lynchings…until you realize the disparity between Blacks getting the death penalty vs. Whites with the American penal system & cases like Trayvon Martin; different times same basic thing. Honestly, it was arguably better back then simply using the logic that it’s way easier to fix/address a gaping, puss infected, oozing wound front-&-center on your arm, your leg, wherever, but it’s harder to treat or even detect an internal wound/illness, like cancer, internal bleeding, or the like. Holy Christ, you could easily see & detect the prejudice & oppression back then, but it’s not as easy to detect now. Of course, some things are (assuming you actually watch the news & can analyze things & not take things at face value) but most things aren’t, especially when you start playing around with the statistics of things. I mean, sure, this state passed a bill that affects the times voting polls are open in certain areas, doesn’t seem all that bad, until you realize they’re doing this in primarily areas populated mostly by minorities, areas that are mostly Democratic for that particular state, & what the law really does is limit the voting rights of minorities. You wouldn’t notice that at just face value, or without understanding the statistics behind it, you’d just think it’s another state passing yet another voting bill. But what does a lot of today’s youth do? “Get rich or die trying” usually involving doing stereotypical Black things: singing (usually Hip-Hop, R&B, or Rap), acting, athletics, basically professions of the “fame, fortune, & b*tches” route, with little to no concern about the pressing issues in the country they live in or, in a decent amount of cases, general academics. I mean, how many Black have been swindled out of their fortune or lost it due to poor money management??? Granted, plenty of Blacks, regardless of generation, have done that, so another rant for another day.
Getting back on point, it seems like today’s youth cares little about pressing issues (be it political, racial, or whatever else that will affect their livelihood) & more about, again, “fame, fortune, & b*tches” & ‘getting rich quick’. Of course, not every Black youth but you can’t deny this seems way more prevalent nowadays than any other generation before.
So, to sum up “Black rage”; it’s the Yin/Yang of the negatives of Whites & Blacks that comprise it that movies like Lee Daniels’ The Butler can trigger, & like I mentioned before, I already have enough seething hatred on my own to need a movie to bring it out even more in addition to being around White ppl. way too often to then have this burning rage crop up. Doesn’t mean I or anyone else for that matter should stay completely oblivious to race issues, or the Civil Rights movement in the 60s for that matter, but I don’t need a movie to remind me about that. Then why did you see it? I was under the impression it wasn’t going to be so racial issue heavy (granted, why I, or my Mom for that matter, took that source seriously is beyond me) & I thought it was going to document this man’s life. Trust me, you can do a movie about a Black man’s life working as a butler for several presidents without having so many “BAM! Racial tension!” moments as this movie did. That being said, my next point…
Although I do believe it was a good movie that accurately depicted a lot of the racial tension back in those times & the different events that occurred, I feel this what you would call a “Civil Rights Exploitation” movie. I know, more made up terms possibly in lieu of pre-existing terms that mean exactly what I just described but just go with me on this, will ya’? No, well screw you too X/ Anyway, when I say “Civil Rights Exploitation” movie I mean just that, a movie that exploits the Civil Rights movement back in the 60s that essentially uses a shock & awe tactic to garner cheap strong emotional reactions. On a slightly smaller scale, it’s the equivalent of having a character be sexually assaulted in a serious story to essentially force you to care & garner strong emotional reactions b/c, you now (or I hope to God you know), a person (almost always female) was violated & you have to, you must care about this & respond with strong emotions & actively cheer that this character gets justice or the perpetrator of the crime gets his comeuppance. Even if that character was a total a$$hole the entire film/book/whatever, they are instantly forgiven all their sins & are now completely sympathetic (at least, that’s how it’s ‘supposed to be’).
Similarly, this & any other “Civil Rights Exploitation” type film play this card but with racial tension. Same strong emotional response as with the character getting sexually assaulted, but this time with something like a Black man being beaten by a White cop for what boils down to ‘taking a stroll while being Black. Heck, all those films that came out back in the day (especially 90s) about the Black team being treated like crap by their White counterpart b/c ‘they’re Black & Blacks can’t do that’, ring a bell? What all of them do is use racism as the driving force of the movie to garner that emotional response…so you couldn’t possibly dislike this movie b/c it’s such a “realistic portrayal of racial tension almost always based off a true story”, how could you possibly dislike that movie? How could you possibly not spend $10+ to go see that movie, heck, go see that movie multiple times & then buy it on DVD. I mean, you may think I’m blowing some up you’re a$$ on that, but seriously, these types of movies all have at least one moment where the Black character is suffering at the hand of a White person portrayed in a way where you’re really supposed to be pissed off at the injustice this Black guy is going through.
However, you may be thinking “Well, no s**t, times were tough back in the 60s & the White man really was that brutal & conniving with his oppression of Blacks, you young whipper snapper. Kids these days…” Um, the movie’s supposed to be about a Black butler serving multiple presidents, right? With a focus on the actual person, right? A movie in which uses the age old plot exposition device of the news broadcast/newspaper, right? In other words, having jarring almost complete pit stops in the plot of vivid depictions of the brutality cops/the KKK had against Blacks is completely unnecessary. You could use the TV giving regular news reports to mention that (which it did anyway throughout the movie, making the whole experience seem superfluous other than to garner cheap strong emotional reactions) & have the characters react to the news broadcast/another co-worker telling them about the experience without having to have this 10+ minute section of White ppl. beating the crap out of Blacks. &, in case you missed that point, completely unnecessary to show that at all. It’s like the movie’s forcing these moments on you to intentionally piss you the f*** off & get you all riled up…which isn’t necessary to the overarching premise of the movie: a Black butler’s life who served multiple presidents. The f**k do you need 30+ minutes worth of Black getting beaten for? Again, why I consider it a “Civil Rights Exploitation” film, but I’m not done yet.
We’re not even going to talk about the pacing or storytelling of the movie. Although not horrible, I generally find it annoying when movies kill off big actors/major characters off-screen in an easily missable minor conversation, but that’s a minor gripe at best. Like I said, pacing, but also subpar pacing combined with confusing character developments. There are some moments in the movie where you’re like “seriously, what the f**k year is it? I have no idea what’s happening but now he’s a Black Panther”. Oh yeah, kiddies, I hope you really know a lot of the important figures/groups from the Civil Rights movement in the 60s off-hand ‘cause there are points where they just drop these ppl. on you, have them say an awesome one-liner, & immediately kill them off a few minutes later (tots legit, did it with Martin Luther King, Jr. of all ppl., & he was making an awesome comment on the ‘subversiveness of the house negroe’ too).
I mean, you can play the bulls**t of “Well, of course he dies, that’s what happened historically” or “Well, of course you know this already” but this is just terrible storytelling, plain & simple, even for a technical period piece. I mean, I understand doing things like mentioning important historical figures to let the audience know what time period it is, but this was clumsily done, at best. You don’t just off-handedly have 2 characters quickly discuss this new up & coming figure, Malcolm X, & never hear another word about him for the rest of the movie, wtf, or, you know, just plain doesn’t explain the significance of the person mentioned, just name drops? Why do something that can be equally accomplished with having the news play a broadcast about this figure in the background, have the characters comment on it, & continue on.
Heck, maybe it’s b/c it isn’t much of a movie when you take away the unnecessarily subversive aspects. Seriously, it would make a great documentary or made-for-TV movie, but when you clean up the bad writing & take out all the superfluous cheap “emotional porn”, it really isn’t that interesting. Honestly, it’s quite boring. However, if you were going to do a movie about the Civil Rights, why not just do a movie about it? Why shove it into a movie that’s supposed to be about this person in particular (like a 2-fer deal)? Call me jaded, or harsh, but I call bulls**t. It wasn’t necessary for the story you were supposed to be telling, you pretty much proved that with your own bad writing, so wtf are you doing??? Again, I still liked the movie, but I didn’t need to, essentially, be given a “rage boner” in a movie about a butler X/ Heck, you could have spent more time going over the interactions of the president with the Black staff & not have to spend so many pit stops with Blacks being beaten by Whites.
Basically, accurate portrayal of racial tensions, yes; bad storytelling moves & almost n00b writing mistakes, hellz yeah, that simple.
So, if you want to go see the movie, be prepared for a “rage boner” of the century (or at least for this movie season) & some subpar pacing & character arcs; otherwise, decent.
Let’s have more fun with backpedalling!
- Again, I’m not saying all Whites are racist/Whites don’t understand &/or not affected by race issues/only Whites can be racist, but in the context of “Black rage” & the Lee Daniels’ The Butler movie…”White ppl. be so cray cray sometimes”
- Blacks aren’t the only minorities that experience prejudice, again in the context of the film, I’m specifically primarily about race relations with Whites & Blacks throughout the time period of the movie till now
- No, no you should not use the N word “as a term of endearment” or EVER; there’s no justifying it & I don’t want to hear your crazy a$$ argument how it’s tots magrots fine now. That being said, I know not all Black ppl. use the word, I know not every Black person that uses the word is all that diehard about defending it, but I still maintain this word should never slip any White person’s lips (except for purely for quoting others in an ‘appropriate’ context) & you know why you shouldn’t.
- Not all from today’s Black youth are on the negative end of what I just described (elders, take notice) & sure as hell not every older Black person is all that good of a role model either, let alone talk s**t about today’s youth, but there is a difference of the Black youth of today & the Black youth of yesteryear.
- Cheap emotional gut shots =/= a good movie; a movie about racial tension =/= a good movie; showing Blacks being beaten by Whites =/= a good movie, please don’t fall for these cheap tricks
- Of course ppl. may be offended by some/all of this rant, but this is my personal opinion & you don’t have to agree with it. Please don’t give me the hate of “Well, I like the movie, how could you possibly find anything negative about this movie?!” every movie has something or another wrong with it, & if I actually like it, I can put it through a crucible & still like it in the end
Probably forgot some other backpedalling but this will do for now, I’ll extend the list if need be.