Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jar Jar Mea Culpa? George Lucas Discusses His Tuskegee Airmen Movie "Red Tails" on The Daily Show

George Lucas is making the rounds to promote his newest film Red Tails. I attended a screening of the movie several months ago and wrote my review here. On The Daily Show Lucas echoes my observation that Red Tails is a corny, over the top, jingoistic, 1940s era World War 2 movie--just one with black folks as the centerpiece of the story. In short, Red Tails is the World War 2 movie that The Tuskegee Airmen deserved and never received: it is their/our Flying Leathernecks.

I love Star Wars. I owe Lucas and his fantastic creation a great deal both personally and professionally. As such, I feel that I have earned the freedom to engage in some critical ghetto nerd talk about the prequels and Lucas' politics more generally. Dude is on the right side of so many issues, and his body of work signals to this fact, that (to my eyes at least) Red Tails makes up a bit of the ill will left over from the Jar Jar debacle that is the Prequels.

Lucas drops the shield with Stewart, engages in some self-deprecating humor, talks long term plans for the Red Tails franchise, and the reality that Hollywood will not finance black movies save for Tyler Perry's hot garbage new age race minstrelsy (notice how George bites his tongue, speaking very carefully about the coonery and buffoonery that are Madea and Meet the Browns).

I will see Red Tails again both to support the venture, and to see if the final edits improve on what was an already more than serviceable film.

Here is one of the real faces, the real voices, and real people who were the heroes known as The Tuskegee Airmen. This interview with Alexander Jefferson of the 332nd Fighter Group from the U.S. Army War College archives (an amazing resource by the way, one that I will be featuring more often) is worth a view.

Men like this are legends, elder gods:


Henri B. said...

I have been yelling at my husband for weeks (hard core Star Wars geek) about how he was going to give George Lucas his/our money to see Phantom Menace in 3-D. A movie he ALREADY KNOWS is horrible save the 10 minutes Darth Maul is in it. After hearing him be that candid about Hollywood and black movies on TDS and knowing that he really didn't have to do this I gave hubs a pass. (Like he was going to listen anyway.)

I don't care for action movies in general and I'm pretty sure I won't like it but I'm going to see it because, like you said, this is a story that needed to be told. I've already defended it on a forum from some idiots who started throwing the phrase "race card" around and how he's making up for the racist characters in Star Wars. Well, you may disagree, but lots of powerful people do offensive crap like that *cough Michael Bay cough* and none of them bother to "apologize" this nicely.

Big Mark 243 said...

Dude is on the right side of so many issues, and his body of work signals to this fact, that (to my eyes at least) Red Tails makes up a bit of the ill will left over from the Jar Jar debacle that is the Prequels.

I saw the interview the other day and thought about blogging about it. Your words is how I felt about George Lucas prior to the interview. I was very impressed with how he talked about the movie, the self-deprecation and HONESTY about how the business is regarding black movies...

Jon Stewart also does a good job with guiding George Lucas around to talking about the racial issues without being too overt and banging the message over the head.

It changed my view of Lucas, who I thought was too much indoctrinated into Joseph Campbell to be objective with the race issue... and he goes above and beyond... "these guys are heroes," he said... and he does such a good job that I cannot wait to see the film..!

(I knew about their greatness because a Tuskegee Airman was the Mayor of Detroit..!)

chaunceydevega said...

@Tanya. People are complicated as I say. His work is a function of a particularly naive white imaginary--Flash Gordon, 1940s and 1950s serials etc. drawing from there lots of mess is bound to come out.

@Big. And his beautiful smart rich goddess of a black girlfriend may have something to do with it too.

nomad said...

WW II fighter pilots. Those were my heroes as a kid. I used to try to make comic books. One of my characters was a black fighter pilot. Insanely, I was a kid, he was the leader of a white squadron. Of course he was a former Tuskegee airman. Hope they are flying mustangs. But I think they would have been flying P 40s.

Shady_Grady said...

I will go see this film.

nomad said...

This was my inspiration, ghetto nerds. Ever heard of him?