In the marketing of the film Red Tails, executive producer, and Jar Jar Binks creator, George Lucas is actually selling us the story of a white man’s attempt to fight production code and liberate African Americans everywhere.
When discussing George Lucas’ new film Red Tails, critics tend to focus on Lucas’ bravery in the adversity of Hollywood’s inherently racist business model. Here’s an excerpt from one such review:
“My newfound respect for George has stemmed from his willingness to do something the majority of Hollywood is completely against—he made a film consisting of an entirely black cast steeped in one of the most prominent African American stories, The Tuskegee Airmen.” -Xavier Burgin
These sorts of reviews are encouraged by the marketing of the film, wherein Lucas goes out of his way to talk about how hard it was to find someone to finance and produce this film. In anticipation of the film’s release, Lucas was on “The Daily Show”. He spends the first half of the interview ranting about the difficulty of making a movie like Red Tails:
“[I] financed it myself and I figured I could get the prints and ads paid for by the studios and they would release it… I showed it to all of them, and they said ‘No. We don’t know how to market a movie like this’ [...] it’s because it’s an all-black movie there’s no major white roles in it at all. It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made.”
Aside from the ludicrous claim that this is one of the first all-black action pictures ever made, Lucas makes an apt point; marketing a mainstream film sans white people is a feat. In a recent Cracked.com article entitled “5 Old-Timey Prejudices that Still Show up in Every Movie,” J.F. Sargent points out that “We still don’t care about history if it doesn’t involve white people.” The reasons for this inherent racism are generally linked to the business of Hollywood: a capitalist endeavor whose main goal is to fill as many kidney-shaped pools with gold coins as possible (Scrooge McDuck style).