Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dear White People (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Dear White People

In style and content, Justin Simien's "Dear White People" speaks about the daring and influence of Spike Lee as much as addresses Obama's intent for harmony. In big bold images akin to a graphic novel, the director places his audience within the pastoral yet claustrophobic realm of Winchester College, an Ivy League institution.

With dry tones reminiscent of Whit Stillman's "Damsels in Distress," college radio host Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) presents a biting show titled "Dear White People" and a newsletter  "Ebony and Ivy."  As a protest, she  runs for head of her residence, wanting to make the hall exclusively for black students.

This sets off an acidic war with Kurt Fletcher (Kyle Gallner) an  aloof and narcissistic boy, the son of the college president.

Coco (Teyona Parris) is the princess-like student who wants to uphold stratification and keep the status quo of Winchester just as it is.

Lionel (Tyler James Williams) is the bookish outsider with a wild Afro who is approached to get the story on the racial tension through these hallowed halls.

No one gets off easy in this film. Every character presents a ruse, a masquerade or a mania, and the film empties its ammunition upon every persona and type. All of the characters bite and jab  one another with the exception of Lionel, who is a walker on the fringe. Every person becomes embroiled in a nest of scorpions.

Sly is the concoction reserved for Obama whose complacency and hopes are well lampooned: his positivity is jabbed upon in Samantha's film "The Re-Birth of a Nation" showing people in white face makeup, disappointed in the Obama Dream.

The most corrosive accents are engineered for Spike Lee's oeuvre as his charged characters are satirized by turning  obsessive and narrow in intent. There are still shots of silent men in rigid impassivity as if in parody of and tribute to "Do The Right Thing".

A party scene presents  racism with an appropriate stinging sleaziness, showing humans locked in their own stereotypical prisons of cartoons, ill-realism and coercion. With Obama in office or not, racism rears its filthy anemic head under the All Hallows' Eve of inappropriate kitsch, and Money, its green-eyed cousin, waits to brand itself and consume every person regardless of  his or her persona or spirit.

Write Ian at

No comments: