Pop Culture, Race & Politics

No, I Haven’t Seen Red Tails Yet. Why Not? Good Question.

(Today’s post is a response to each of the dozen or so people who’ve already asked me if I’ve seen Red Tails yet, and the dozens who’ll probably continue to ask me after today.)

1. The guilt-based marketing has completely turned me off. 

I’m going to expand on this a bit more later this week at Ebony.com, but nothing makes me not want to do something I was already kind of “eh, maybe.” about than being told I need to do it. And, being beaten over the head for a month with the completely disingenuous and manipulative idea that I must support Red Tails if I ever want to see a black face on a movie screen again has made me go from “eh, maybe” to “f*ck you.”

2. I don’t need to see black faces on screen. 

Do I like to? Yes. Do I think it’s important for young people to see “positive” (more on this in a minute) stories concerning black people to help counterbalance the negative imagery they’re constantly inundated with? Sure.

But, while I do recognize the importance of representation, it’s not something I personally need as a moviegoer. I’m not interested in our stories or my story as much as good and compelling and entertaining stories. If these good and compelling and entertaining stories happen to revolve around black people, great!

This isn’t to say that Red Tails wasn’t good and compelling and entertaining to many of the people who’ve seen it already, and I’m not so much of an asshole that I’d trash a movie I haven’t even seen yet. But, PG-13 CGI laden war movies just aren’t very interesting and entertaining to me, regardless of what color the pilots happen to be.

Also, I realize that certain duties — voting, voting for democrats, voting for black democrats, etc — are required to keep your black american card and the perks that come with it. But, maybe the handbook has changed since the last time I read it, but I don’t remember seeing anything about any obligation to make your leisurely activities dutiful too.

3. I don’t need to see positive stories on screen either. 

While positive movies are great and important and meaningful and sh*t, I don’t particularly need to see them to be “uplifted” or “fulfilled.” That’s what bacon and strippers are for.

4. Ok, I’ll say it. Nothing I’ve heard, read, or seen about it makes me think it’s going to be very interesting. 

Yeah, I know what many of you are probably thinking right now. It’s completely unfair to make a judgement on a movie (or any art for that matter) you haven’t actually seen yourself. And, while I definitely see we’re you’re coming from, that sentiment is a big, fat, steaming pile of bullsh*t.

We make judgments and predictions on sh*t we haven’t actually seen or done yet all the f*cking time, and reading a couple story descriptions and watching a couple trailers and thinking “Eh. This sounds kind of boring.” is no different than riding past a club you’ve never been to before, getting turned off by how the club looks/the people in line/’the fact that you used to bone the bouncer, and deciding to hit another spot.

Sure, maybe you would have had the time of your life at that place, but past experience has told you that you’re not very, um, “compatible” with clubs with those conditions.

For instance, although I (obviously) hadn’t seen the movie yet, I knew I was going to enjoy The Social Network the first time I saw the trailer.

On the other hand, I first saw the trailer to Red Tails while at Blogalicious.

And, while nothing about that footage screamed “bad movie” to me, nothing didn’t scream “I’ll guess I’ll catch it on TNT during Black History Month in 2015” either.

With all that being said, I’m actually glad Red Tails seems to be exceeding expectations at the box office. I hope they’re able to continue to ride their strong opening weekend, and I hope that its success helps black filmmakers get their projects green lighted.

Still, I just can’t get behind supporting something I’m pretty sure I won’t enjoy, just because that something has something to do with black people. If I want a history lesson about the Tuskegee Airmen, I’ll go visit his office instead.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • If you don’t want to see it, I say take Huey from “The Boodocks'” advice – buy a ticket to see Red Tails (or whatever Black movie is in theaters), but see a movie you want to see. Win-win!

  • The action scenes were great! Cuba and Terrance Howard were not.


  • sarah

    Thank you for this.

  • The message was great. I’m looking forward to the possible prequel and sequel if they make it.

  • Nicole

    Just saying, The Social Network trailer was fabulously produced to entice any viewer to want to see more. And the shit worked

  • Thank you Sweet Baby Jesus for putting into words what I had been trying to all these weeks. Frankly the movie looks straight up shitty to me. You can tell that its just gonna be unnecessarily loud and obnoxious, when the story is so much more than that. Don’t the Tuskegee Airmen deserve better than this? Thanks a lot, George Lucas….

  • Jaes

    Two things…. ONE: if you ever… EVER watched Soul Plane in any shape, fashion or form then you completely invalidated everything you have written here. TWO: Guilt based marketing? What or who made you feel guilty? I never saw anything in the trailer that said, “You sambos can’t fly as good as the white man! …and them Alabama porch monkeys at home ain’t gonna come out and see you fly neither, tar baby. ” I want this movie to be good & I plan to go see if it is based on recommendations or family and others. I also think sometimes you are supportive of certain projects because it may allow you to get others off the ground. Some of which may be more interesting to you.

  • I shall live. We make better independent movies anyway. Oh yeah, film discussion uhh uhh Black film recommendation.

    Ava DuVernay – Middle of Nowhere

    She’s the dopest bees knees snazzy and stuff. Feel free to get her debut feature I Will Follow on Netflix, Amazon, et la. wooo. recommendation. malik malik malik

  • Jaes

    Oh and Terrance Howard does wreck of douchebaggery! Voice is a little too high for me. Never buy him as military; not in this and not in Iron Man.

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