Starring: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Brandon P Bell, Teyonah Parris
Directed By: Justin Simien
Written By: Justin Simien
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 48 min
Dear White People, is a satire on race relations at an Ivy League college, leading up to a violent clash between black students, and the predominately white morons wearing ‘blackface’ at a campus party. A story inspired, sadly, because this kind of immature crap actually happens at college campuses across the US. And while I think a good movie should address this nonsense, Dear White People wasn’t it, in my opinion.
Dear White People thinks it’s the smartest kid in class. A know-it-all privileged ivy-league brat that has confused having a decent vocabulary, with maturity and intelligence. Ten minutes into this race relations project, I pondered ‘who is this film for?’ As a forty-something white English bloke, it certainly wasn’t me. So I guess to be fair, you should take this negative review with a massive pinch of salt, because this film is clearly aimed at another demographic. I’m just not sure which one. The movie title suggests it’s addressed to me, but maybe it should have been called, Dear Rich White People.
Is it news that racism still exists in a country that recently elected (twice) a black president? No. Does this film move the conversation on race relations forward, or bring anything new to the debate? Not really. Am I supposed to feel bad for super attractive fashionable wealthy kids attending a prestigious college? Not likely! I worked full-time while studying for my bachelors degree, and I’ll be paying off the loan for the next 30 years. So complaints made by the well-to-do about aspects of college life, fall on unsympathetic ears.
The college parties that inspired this film, are shockingly stupid. The fact that college aged, supposedly educated people think hosting a race themed party is okay; is mind-boggling. So at least Dear White People draws attention to that problem. But while the movie complains about racial stereotypes, it doesn’t seriously take on the public personalities that make a living exploiting them, or acknowledge positive representations of race in the media. It also expects its audience to sympathize with a minority that can actually afford to attend an Ivy League college. And it loudly regurgitates racial talking points that we’ve heard before, without moving the conversation forward in any meaningful way.
If you’re attending college, this movie might be more relatable, even entertaining. And the movie has been very well received by critics. Those of us that are struggling to make student loan payments for the rest of our lives, are not going to feel too bad for wealthy brats attending a prestigious college. This movie is rated R due to language, and some drug use.
This wasn’t an especially visual experience, so a HD rental is recommended. Watching this on a TV, laptop, tablet or phone will service the film well enough.
Despite how unentertained and unmoved I was by this film, there were a few funny lines here and there. I did laugh at a comparison made between gremlins (you know, Gremlin’s movie gremlins), and black people. It’s inaccurate*, but still a good line.
“The Gremlins are loud, talkin’ slang, are addicted to fried chicken, and freak out when you get their hair wet.”
* I don’t recall a lot of slang talk from the Gremlins, and very few of them had hair (Spike in the first film sported a wicked white mohawk). They also were not fried chicken addicts, and they didn’t so much freak out when they got wet, but reproduce. They were loud though, that much is accurate.