Yes, these two movies are indeed exposing the deep, dark underbelly of racism in this country. (Never mind that Charlie was actually written by an Englishman.)
The first movie, Hitch, came out early this year. I saw it because it was a slow time in movie-land and it looked amusing. It was a fluffy, silly comedy about love. There was some truth in the movie about being yourself, but otherwise it was the three main actors having fun on film. The movie starred Will Smith (a black actor), Eva Mendes (gorgeously Cuban), and Kevin James (very white-boy). The blonde model Amber Valetta also had some screen time.
To my surprise, the IMDB board bristled with comments about the racist nature of this movie. Apparently because there were no black/white relationships in this film, it was deemed racist. The general consensus was that Will Smith got the consolation prize of Eva when he shouldâ€™ve gotten the top prize of Amber. Iâ€™m sure that no Latina anywhere has a problem with this assumption. There were other racial/social conspiracy theories tossed around, but the relationship â€œissuesâ€ were the biggest and were echoed in a small article by Newsweek a few weeks later.
When I saw the movie, I thought I was seeing a Will Smith comedy. I had no idea I was really watching ground-breaking social commentary. I guess Iâ€™m much denser than I thought.
And then thereâ€™s the obviously English Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Written as a childrenâ€™s cautionary tale, the new movie remake is a racist comment due to its all-white cast. Even though one of the kids ends up blue, this wasnâ€™t enough color for the race critics.
I watched obliviously as the naughty children were suitably punished, the good little boy was rewarded, and Willy Wonka, the nutty recluse, was taught a lesson in familial love. Somehow I must be damaged since I failed to notice that the only people of color in the movie were the â€œnativeâ€ Oompa-Loompas. I guess Iâ€™m not fit for polite society since Iâ€™m far more interested in the actual characters in a movie than their skin color.
Perhaps if we changed things around, we could make everyone feel better. A remake of Charlie could cast the spoiled rich girl as Jewish, the video-game addict as Japanese, the over-eater as American, the gum-chewer as black and the poor good boy from any third-world country. While weâ€™re at it, we should probably make the various sexual orientations of these children much more obvious and change around the sexes of the characters. That should make the movie absolutely correct.
That way, viewers would be safe from such overt, commercialized racism in movies like Charlie. Of course, I still donâ€™t know what to do about Hitch. I think a completely new cast and a whole new storyline is in order to save that one.