My analysis concerning these two movies that were released around the time of the election of Barack Obama in 2008. These movies reveal the cultural shifts and old-time prejudices of America society. The election of Barack Obama to the highest office in 2008 was a watershed event. Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys deals with interracial friendship between rich Charlotte and working class Alice, with their dysfunctional children. Charlotte’s son, William Cartwright, is known for his cruelty to his employees and an habitual womanizer who have affairs with women in his office. The other is Lakeview Terrace. That movie is about an interracial couple being terrorized by Abel, their next door neighbor who happened to be a police officer. In the following year after Barack Obama became President Obama, Disney released The Princess and the Frog. A story about a poor Black New Orleans girl falling in love with a disinherited Prince Naveen from Maldonia. These movies are less about Black women, more about rehabilitation of White men, who historically exploited and abused Black women, then disinherited their offspring on the grounds that they have Black ancestry. Are we going to believe that they changed from their past exploitation, abuse, and disenfranchisement of Black and Brown people? Should Black women vet non black men when going out on dates, before marrying the men, and meeting their family and friends? I’m going to examine three movies involving Black women and non black men. How racial/gender dynamics of the past affect today’s relationships and the mythology of a post-racial society as heralded in mainstream media after the election of then-president Barack Obama. Hollywood and the media made sure that White women are excluded from the possibility of being involved in interracial/interethnic relationships(witness the backlash against the 2013 Cheerios commercial). Men of Color, too, are largely excluded from such relationships as well, with few exceptions(The Big Sick comes to mind). Since 2009, there are essays and academic dissertations made mainly by people of Color critiquing one-way view of interracial relationships from the mainstream media and society. Black women led the way in such criticism because of the traumatic and deliberately forgotten history of White-male initiated and coercive interracial contacts in America, both past and present.
PREDATORY WHITE MEN, ABUSED AND EXPLOITED BLACK WOMEN, EMASCULATED BLACK MEN, CLUELESS WHITE WIVES AND DISENFRANCHISEMENT IN TYLER PERRY’S THE FAMILY THAT PREYS
Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys tells a story about a friendship between Charlotte Cartwright and Alice Evans that crossed racial and class lines. The movie begins in Charlotte’s palatial Atlanta mansion. Mrs. Cartwright was preparing the wedding for her best friend’s daughter, Andrea Evans and Chris Bennett. Right from the start, Andrea Evans wasn’t comfortable with the idea that her mother’s best friend is hosting the wedding because it was patronizing. Her husband to be was in the other room, having cold feet at the prospect of marrying Andrea, his best man, Ben, reassured him that she’s a good catch and that their marriage would be a successful one. Chris went ahead and married Andrea. During the reception, the couple was congratulated by William and Jillian Cartwright. William subtly manipulates the couple by offering jobs in his prosperous construction company after their honeymoon.
That action recalls the historic practice of patronage of select Blacks by the White elite. William Cartwright’s action is a mixture of patronage and manipulation, for he placed Chris in the construction site, while he places Andrea in the office suite, preferably next to company president’s suite so he can manipulate and exploit Andrea sexually. We are living in an era of Me too and time’s up campaign against powerful men sexual harassing women in Hollywood and media. We have a sitting president whose behavior toward women is beyond atrocious. William Cartwright behaved in the same way as those powerful men mentioned. He saw women in his office as fair game for his lustful ways. He didn’t care whether the women were married or not. He sees women as objects to be consumed, then discarded after use. Never as human beings in their own right, having agency, feelings, and aspirations. He even view his former lower middle class wife as naive and docile who wouldn’t fight back. He took her for granted while pursuing mainly Black women in the office of his family owned construction company.
In previous Tyler Perry movies, successful Black men were shown as abusers to Black women(Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Why Did I Get Married, Madea’s Family Reunion), the Family the Preys showed a manipulative, entitled White man as an abuser to the Black women in the office. Also, his depictions of Black women are both negative and stereotypical in the majority of his films and plays.
The movie both downplayed ambitious Black men. In the movie, Andrea’s husband, Chris, was looking for funds to jump-start his future construction company he eventually started. He’s rebuffed by both Andrea and his best friend, Ben, who had doubts about the idea of owning a Black owned business, saying that he was unrealistic. As for Andrea’s scorn toward her husband, she was treated well by her boss who was her lover. He went to several Atlanta banks, only to be turned down before going to Cartwright of all people, to get backing. William rejected Chris’ vision of starting his very own construction company. But William is the last person to go to for funding of any kind, for his greed, incompetence, and lust is well-known in the city. Nevertheless, he persisted. He wouldn’t let obstacles to his ambition stand in his way. American society is set up for the dominant group to have a lion’s share of the wealth, property, privilege, and power while everyone else fights for what scraps the group left. That group happens to be upper class White men.
Atlanta hasn’t always have the “city too busy to hate reputation”. Historically, Atlanta was segregated along racial and economic lines and still is, with Black and Brown residing south and eastern part of town, while affluent Whites live north, especially in Buckhead. The city was the center of the historic 1906 riot that killed many Blacks back then. I really don’t think people of Atlanta, Black and White, truly healed from that traumatic and tragic violent year.
“YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE WHATEVER YOU WANT AND I HATE THAT! AND I HATE THAT WHAT IT MEANS!”: WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE AND ENTITLEMENT, SILENT BLACK WOMEN, AND BLACK EMASCULATION IN LAKEVIEW TERRACE
I went to the movie to watch Lakeview Terrace. I confessed that I watched the movie to see Samuel Jackson acting, not so much the others. However, there were several cringeworthy moments and actions from that Chris character played by Patrick Wilson. The Chris character was very unlikable, as he was able to navigate society without thought, consequence, or any obstacles unlike the characters in the movie. Despite being married to Kerry Washington’s character, he has racist views toward Blacks and at several occasions, showed his racism toward his newlywed during the movie especially.
The movie was directed by Neil LaBute who previously directed the acclaimed movie, Children of Men. Will Smith consigned the movie.
The movie starts out with Abel spending his morning with his children at home moments before new neighbors moving in next door.
The movie was set in the LA’s San Fernando Valley where the jurors acquit four LA police officers for the brutal beating of Rodney King in 1992, leading to the LA riots following the verdict that last for several days.
One movie reviewer wrote:
“But for the entirety of the movie the viewer is never presented with even a semblance of an example of what these two have in common. There is no exploration of their characters, no scenes of them interacting as human beings with each other outside of having sex or arguing. And all of their arguments center around the same tired theme of him saying something racially contentious or being hesitant about having children, followed by his wife getting upset and Chris frustratingly losing the ability to communicate, as if he were a 2nd year French student attempting to dissect La perception du changement. Beyond that and without spoiling the plot, there are two scenes involving his wife being in peril or possibly injured and he reacts in a completely sterile, inhuman way. Who could countenance something so horrendous happening to their spouse while reacting with less visceral emotion than someone who was late to work or had spilled coffee on their keyboard? A scene begging for empathy, rage, anything real or revelatory is about as insipid as a dentist’s gloves digging around in your mouth.”
Chris whines about being teased and questioned by two affluent Black men, yet I neither seen nor heard about being persecuted by Whites who are hostile to interracial relationships including the Black women/White men partnerships such as the one Chris is in. In fact, in the film, it is Black folks who expressed opposition to interracial marriage/relationships rather than White and other non Black folks who are actually far more hostile to such relationships to the point of using either violence and/or the law to persecute interracial relationships. We never get to see Chris’ family and how they handle their son’s marriage to an affluent Black woman. Never. In fact, no White family members and friends were present in the movie. It’s all about Black men vs. White men in battle royale for access to women of various races.
Tambay A. Obenson of Indiewire wrote the following back in 2014:
“(Samuel)Jackson’s Turner tells Wilson’s Chris, the white husband, how much he hates the fact that, as a white man, he can arrogantly have whatever or whomever he wants, without pause, without concern, without having to ask, or worry how he might be received by the rest of the world. And, as Abel sees it, in his emotionally unstable mental state, Chris’s marriage to a black woman exemplifies all of that, and he challenges him in ways most of us probably wouldn’t so readily consider.”
According to Tambay A Obenson, the movie is less of an interracial relationship than it is about struggles between White and Black men and their claims to dominant patriarchal ideal of ownership of women. In fact, women are incidental to the film’s plot.
In conclusion, those movies show Black men and women in a negative light, that only a White man can save her from her so-called marginalization and inferiority White Supremacist society place her throughout history, that Black men are less than and unworthy. Those ideas in the end exploit and destroy Black women and girls.
I want to give a shoutout to Professor Tru Leverette for inspiring me to write the lengthly blog post. Thank you so much Professor Leverette.