tuskegee airmen

[Insert Star Wars Reference Here to Provide Segue into Talking About George Lucas*]

When I was about 10, my parents, in a misguided effort to instill some sort of ethnic pride in me, told me I was related to Booker T. Washington.

That would have been awesome had it not been a total lie. I am not related to Booker T. I am however, related to an actual hero—a fact my parents neglected to mention until we were literally standing in front of a picture in the Smithsonian and my mom more than casually said: “Oh, there’s your Uncle Andrew…Did you wanna get lunch?”

Turns out, my Uncle Andrew was one of the Tuskegee Airmen–the pilots who are the subject of George Lucas’s latest film, Red Tails.

This is his picture…the one that’s in the Smithsonian…no big deal…just the Smithsonian.

This is him. As seen in the Smithsonian. Museum. You know, that big one.

No big deal.

Anyhoo, I had the opportunity to hear Lucas speak about this film months and months ago at work. He’s also been doing the requisite publicity tours lately and I caught his appearance on The Daily Show where he repeated a sentiment he’s been touting since I first heard him talk about Red Tails last year.

Lucas has been talking about how the big studios in Hollywood didn’t want to pay for the production or promotion of this film because it was an all-black action movie and they a) didn’t think it would play and b) didn’t know how to market a blacktion movie like that in the first place.

Not the droids they're looking for.

When I heard him say this, I was shocked!!

I mean, Lucas should have known better. Of course a movie like this is doomed! I mean, sure, it’s got huge, awesome fighting sequences, war, drama, amazing special effects work, a compelling not-yet-over-told story and nostalgia. But it also has black people in it. And as we’ve learned from movies like these, these, these, these, these and these, unless it’s a man in a fat suit, putting black people in movies just doesn’t make sense.

And Hollywood is totally faithful to its pattern of not putting out films with elements that have been proven not to work. Just look at some recent big budget flops.

Mars Needs Moms In this animated, boy-centric, action flick based on a book of the same name, a chore-phobic kids goes a a planet where there are no women to make sure life doesn’t fall apart due to lack of laundry.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $175 million/$38 million
  • Notes: Think how much worse the movie would have been if when they went to the Uncanny Valley, they came back with a little black kid to play the lead and not a little white one. The title wasn’t “Compton Needs Crack,” after all.

The Green Lantern – Ryan Reynold wears Spandex and saves some segment of humanity.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $325 million/$219 million
  • Notes: Again, at least it wasn’t a black dude…like it is in the comic books. I mean, the Black Green Lantern? You wouldn’t even be able to see that.

What’s Your Number? – Anna Faris believes she has had too much sex.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $20 million v. $6 million
  • Notes: Just think what a travesty this would have been if one of the leads were of color! They wouldn’t even be able to call up a number because their phones would have been cut off.

Conan the Barbarian – I’m sure this movie is about something, but I was distracted by the 14-pack.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $90 million v. $49 million
  • Notes: “Conan the Blackbarian?” I don’t think so. I mean, a Blackbearian sound adorable. But a big black guy running through towns brandishing weapons? Um, I spent way too much money to live in this gated community so I don’t have to see that.

Prince of Persia – Didn’t realize Persia was in the OC.

  • Budget v. Box Office: $200 million v. $90 million
  • Notes: Very similar to the Conan casting problem. Even though Persia is a country populated by brown people, if you give one of ’em a big weapon–even if it is a scimitar–you’re just asking for trouble.

Clearly there are some things that just don’t work in movies. And that’s why there are only a few hundred movies coming out in the next few years that feature things like animation, white kids, motion capture, novel adaptations, superheros, white guys, New York, white gals, over sexed 20-somethings, contrived ticking clocks, singles who are totally oblivious to the fact that the person of their dreams is standing right in front of them, epics, horses, weapons, big CG crowds, Los Angeles and gigantic budgets.

Though all of those elements are consistently present in movies that do terribly, it’s really just good science to run a few more test cases just to be sure.

No need to figure that shiz out for black folks, though. Totally obvious they can’t make a movie work.

For an equally disturbing trend in TV, click here.

Are you related to anyone awesome (apart from your awesome self?). Do you wish you were? Tell us about your family history in the comments!

*Seriously, someone help me out with the Star Wars references. I’ve never seen the movies.

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Roots

First, let me say that as a good Oreo, I’ve only seen enough of Roots to know I don’t want to see the rest. Slavery, your name is Toby, wahwahbad, I get it.

But this weekend, after a family get together in Vegas, I discovered some interesting tidbits about my roots (other than the fact that I do need another relaxer soon). I learned that I am the niece of a Republican, of the inventor of a computer system that helps guide the F16 and of a champion cross country skier.

Clearly, I come by my Oreodom honestly.

Unfortunately, I did also find out that I am the granddaughter of a session musician for Duke Ellington and that one of my great uncles was a Tuskegee Airman. Two way ethnic occupations. Eh, we can’t all have perfect pedigrees. I’ll just make sure I frame the skier’s photos more prominently.

This is my great Uncle Lt. Andrew D. Marshall (the ethnic one). This picture is in the Smithsonian and was taken after he was shot down over Greece. Even though 'Tuskegee Airman' just screams ethnic...it's still pretty cool.

What fun stuff is hanging from your family tree?