“Dear White People” shakes things up so that its core humor and sarcasm does not cover up the controversial race issues that need to be addressed. Instead, it highlights and provokes thoughts and emotions about certain issues that society is afraid to discuss, or dare to even mention, in regards to the black community. It tackles sexuality, hair, economic status and so much more.
This provocative tale showcases a college student named Samantha White, a typical rebel Lisa Bonet-esque type. She runs to become the head of her predominantly black residence hall in order to “bring black back” to her university. Throughout her journey to bring black back to Winchester University, the storylines and controversial issues of other characters intertwine with Sam’s story.
There’s Troy Fairbanks, the upper echelon, wannabe white boy, who happens to be the son of the dean. Lionel Higgins, the not-black-enough black boy, goes undercover to get to the scoop on the “Black Power” movement. Colandrea “Coco” Connors, the rags-to-riches girl, knows how to play both sides of the fence, especially in terms of getting her name out there. Although their outward appearance and reputation might say one thing, no character in this movie is what they seem to portray.
Read more at The Eagle
Q&A: Justin Simien, writer-director of “Dear White People”
Writer, director and producer Justin Simien burst onto the scene with the new satirical film “Dear White People,” which explores race in America through the lens of satire. The Eagle’s Brianna Williams sat down with Simien to discuss the film. After you read the interview, check out Williams’ review of the film.
Brianna Moné: Where did the idea of “Dear White People” come from?
Justin Simien: It really started in my college experiences, sort of having conversations among other black people that were not only amusing and interesting and poignant but about being a black person at a mostly white college, that I found strangely absent from movies. And other versions of the black experience that we were all watching and tuning into. That combined with a sort of love for the Black Smart House; “Do the Right Thing” and the success that movie began. These interesting and spirited portrayals of black people and conversations about black life that were just totally absent from the movies by the mid-2000s when I started writing the film. So it was really a combination of those two motivations that sparked the idea.
Brianna Moné: You decided to tackle race relations and issues dealing with the black community in a satirical way as opposed to a more “serious” approach, why did you take that approach?
JS: I think part of it was subconscious. I never saw the movie as anything but a comedy. Now I wouldn’t even call it a comedy, I would call it a satire. But the first draft of it was completely comedic; it was broadly comedic. And then as I got older and saw more of the world, I got a taste of what it was like being a black face in a white place. This was the real world, not just college. That’s when the movie really took the form of satire. I thought, ‘Okay, if I’m going to make people laugh, I more so want to say something.’ I never really considered a version of the movie that took itself all the way seriously that was some sort of earnest dramatic version of events because we kind of have that already. We already had the sort of tragic portrayal of black people. We already had the racism biopics. That was something that I was kind of over. It’s never occurred to me to do it in any other way.
Brianna Moné: You tackled a lot of the stereotypical black characters in a way that is not typical of the way we see in Tyler Perry movies or similar films. What was your inspiration behind the black characters?
JS: All of them are, in my head, meant to sort of be a skew of what you typically see. So you have, Sam, who in a different movie would be labeled as the angry black chick and she even talks about that herself. But I wanted to peel that away and show a complicated, interesting person. You have the queer character of color, who is often painted in extreme colors in most movies and I wanted to show a real human being under that. I wanted to tackle this idea of identity from different points of view and to really show the more common type of way I, as a black person, saw and my self-pride sort of get along in society, to use my identity to my advantage in order to reach my potential. That’s really where they all came from.
Read more at The Eagle