I was ready & fired up to write a scathing piece on the movie ‘Freedom Writers’, starring Hilary Swank. After watching the previews on T.V., I came to the presumption that this is just another classic ‘white savior’ flick. You know the rhetoric, the Hollywood formula is comprised of:
Step 1 – An inner-city public school w/ poor learning conditions
Step 2 – Troubled black & Hispanic youth who have socio-economic & behavioral problems
Step 3- A ‘white’ protagonist who enters the environment & ‘saves’ the troubled youth from destruction
Whether it is manifested as a teacher, student, or friend, the white protagonist enters an environment & ‘shows’ the troubled youth a better ‘life’ or teaches the troubled youth how to ‘appropriate’ to society or normalcy. These types of movies kind of imply that the ethnic youth are ‘savages’, ‘misinformed’, ‘delinquents’ — and only a ‘white’ figure can change their ways, or ‘civilize’ them. Kinda sounds like the Missionary period & world exploration period all over again.
I will acknowledge that there are also black protagonists in such films (Coach Carter), but I can’t recall any films where a Black protagonist ‘civilized’ white youth delinquents …. if they exist, please let me know.
I could name countless examples of white protagonists such as:
– Michelle Pfifer in ‘Dangerous Minds’
– Julia Stiles in ‘Save the Last Dance’
– Jessica Alba in ‘Honey’
– Sean Connery in ‘Finding Forrester’
Back to my opening statement, I was going to blast ‘Freedom Writers’, but a co-worker of mines schooled me & said that this flick is nothing like ‘Dangerous Minds’, and I realized that I was going to make a gross assumption about this flick, without viewing the film first hand.
Thus, I guess the moral of this lil’ piece is not about the ‘Great White Savior’ of inner-city ethnic youth – which is a valid point by the way, but the moral is not to ASSume something, because it’ll make an ASS out of U and Me ….. yes i know, its a kinda cheesy phrase, but it is very fitting!