Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review of “Dear White People”

A film about racial politics on US campuses, with particular reference to a recent fad for rich white students to organise ‘blackface’ parties and the offence that it caused to African-American students.

Interesting, sharply shot and edited, and with some good conflicted characters, interesting scenario, and some good dialogue. Clearly shows, as if such a thing were necessary, that America is not any kind of ‘post-racial’, just differently racial.

But less than satisfactory for me, and lots of it frankly incomprehensible. I couldn’t understand much of the material about the American university culture (I don’t even know what a sophomore is), or pick up some of the nuances of American racial politics and/or African-American culture, or teen culture – what’s all that stuff about hair-styles really about? I don’t know or care enough to find out.

And I’m a bit mystified by having two of the main protagonists be the son of the white college president and of the black college dean respectively. I don’t know what the two roles mean (are they two halves of the Vice-Chancellor role, maybe?). And is the fact that one boy is white and the other black all that matters here? What about all the other people who aren’t from privileged backgrounds? Well, this is supposed to be an Ivy League university, so maybe they’re just not in the story, unless I missed something.

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