Monday, September 17, 2007

My Indictment of Hollywood's Portrayal of "Good" Fathers

I will begin this by stating that this indictment is not based on solid or thorough research. It is based on only two movies that TM and I recently saw via Netflix. These movies have nothing else in common except for the fact that the fathers are dark-skinned and do some stupid shyt in the name of protecting their family.

The first movie is The Pursuit of Happyness. As we put the DVD in, Summer's words about this movie were forefront in my mind. I shared them with TM and by the end of the film, we were both furious and think Summer is a genius. How dare Chris Gardner?!?!?! How dare he call his wife "weak" because she wants to leave when she was working double shifts for months? How dare he demand that his son stay with him when his wife had family and a job lined up in New York? How dare he have money in the bank for the IRS to levy and didn't use it to pay his rent? How dare he become inspired to be a stockbroker by seeing a Ferrari and justify the decision by saying it's for his family? How dare he not get a part-time job while he was selling those bone-density machines? The movie tried really hard to make Will Smith's character sympathetic and make everyone else the bad guy/girl, but it didn't work. Like Summer, I thought it was a very well-acted film, but ultimately I wasn't buying what it was trying to sell. And I am dying to know what the relationship is between the real Chris Gardner and his son.

The second movie we've seen recently is Blood Diamond. This movie was good, but I was always afraid that the filmmakers were enjoying portraying the horrors Africans were inflicting on each other a little too much. I totally dug how unapologetically Leo took on the language; it was fun watching him speak the patois. However...poor Djimon Hounson. Per usual, he played the honorable black person used to teach the lost white soul the path to redemption. He also played the fool! In his path to find his son, his character puts him and Leo's character in danger again and again. All in the name of his family, he makes one mistake after another. He actually started to piss me off.

My conclusion based solely on these films is that Hollywood thinks it's all right for a father to put his family in more peril if he says it's for their betterment. And it's more understandable if you are a black father. I know I am oversimplifying these films, but it's where my head is at the moment.


Angela said...

I haven't seen Blood Diamond but Pursuit of Happyness, you are 100% right about! I think that the film oversimplified his situation. I have heard Chris Gardner speak and his story and his relationship with his ex was more complex than that. Films are really invested in the role of the unsupportive wife. She has no nuance because they do not think she needs to. She simply is a stereotype. It irks me too.

summer said...

thanks for the shout out, L. Britt.

and thanks to you and TM for understanding my frustration.

i haven't seen Blood Diamond yet, but I can already picture Hounson's role.