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The Dear White People Roundtable

Lionsgate Films


After what seems like a year’s worth of trailers, teasers, and dozens of free screenings for Bougie Blacks and guilt-ridden Whites, Dear White People was finally released. Some are calling it genius and whichever other superlative they can think of. Others have been somewhat underwhelmed.

Last week, we started an email thread for the VSB contributors (some of whom have seen it, some of whom haven’t, and some of whom eventually saw it while this discussion was taking place) to share their thoughts on it. (BTW, there are some minor spoilers)

One of my biffles saw it and hated it, but he hates a lot of things. He was disappointed in the interracial subplots and ranted to me about it for, like, an hour.

—Danielle Belton

I find that Black folks who have limited interactions with White folks are among the most frustrated by them. Which is interesting. To me. But. That wasn’t what you asked.

Just based on what I know of the movie…and what I see on Twitter… it’s an observation.

—Maya Francis

Maya, I would have guessed it was the opposite. At least from my experience. The people who seem to complain the most about Whites are the ones who interact with them on a daily basis. Me? I work for EBONY and VSB, so I don’t need to interact with Whites unless I go to Panera. Basically, I love White people.

—Damon Young

Yes and no. I think more interaction yields more complaint (that’s with anything, right?) but in my experience, I find folks who are most rigid in their views of White folks have limited exposure.


I haven’t seen it but plan to . My expectations have already been made by reviews. I want to be entertained, I want to like it, and I gather I will like it. Will I think it’s important? I doubt it.

My whole thing is, as much as a movie like this deserves to be made, I don’t see how it has to be this deep, impactful thing. I remember going to a screening of Black-Ish and Tracee Ellis-Ross was there to do a post-screening Q&A. One of the things she said about the sitcom (and I’m paraphrasing here) was that she wanted people to remember, the whole point of Black-ish is to be funny, not save the race.

I think people forget that whole medicine-in-the-candy thing. Things can just be good, clean fun. That in itself is a step in the right direction, and that is all I want Dear White People to be.

—Jozen Cummings

Jozen, it’s interesting that you say that, because the less than positive reviews (haven’t heard or seen any straight negative ones) I’ve heard/read all basically said that the problem with the movie isn’t that it’s not “important” or that it doesn’t save the race. It’s that it’s not funny…or even fun. (And yes, I’m aware those were two of the most awkwardly constructed sentences ever created)


I think what you mentioned is very important. When I go to the movies, my ULTIMATE desire is to be entertained. That’s it. I have loved some of the most terrible movies ever (You Got Served is my shit) b/c of the entertainment value. So when I say I wasn’t even whelmed, it wasn’t because of what this movie was supposed to mean in terms of depth and impact. Noap. I walked out and I wasn’t even sure how entertained I was. I want to like movies b/c they made me laugh, feel, or something. Something that I walk away and I’m like…yeah, that joint right there???

I know quite a few folks who have seen it already. Multiple times for some people and what I noticed was that nobody who has seen it was talking about it. The only thing folks have said – opinionated folks, mind you – was that it was good. Nothing more. That struck me as odd and interesting. I’m like you Jozen, I just wanted Dear White People to be fun and entertaining…as a whole.

Yeah, I can’t wait to hear the opinions.

—Panama Jackson

I got all ready to see it and then remembered that I live in 1998 and it’s not playing here. Will have to get to DC or something. I’m curious to see if the leading character is as obnoxious as I suspect she is. The clips alone feel heavy handed. But, you can never be too direct when battling their Fuckshit. Need to get my hands on a screener.

—Alex Hardy

I really think the “save the race” thing was placed upon them more so than their intention. I mean, they really couldn’t escape that because funny/entertaining or not, the very existence of a movie entitled Dear White People that is so open/candid in a time where race relations are relating like a motherfucker, it is bigger than just a movie.

That said, I think messages are best conveyed in a funny/lighthearted/sarcastic manner. At least, they seem to be better received that way, from the mass audience. I don’t even expect it to be deep or heavy-handed. In fact, I would’ve been disappointed if it was.

Point is, It’s possible to be entertaining and learn something. Edutainment for the motherfucking wins.

—Tonja Stidhum

the very existence of a movie entitled “dear white people” that is so open/candid in a time where race relations are relating like a motherfucker, it is bigger than just a movie.

This is exactly why I want to see it. The boldness of the title. period. Because we live in a society that says talking about race is racist, and race baiting is the real problem here. And I love the idea that this movie plays (potentially) into the so-called problem of race in america.

I don’t even think I have expectations for the it. I actually don’t know much about it at all, except the title. and until about 30 seconds ago when I googled it, I didn’t even know that it was supposed to have an actual plot and actual recognizable actors. And yes, even after months of hearing about it, I haven’t once bothered to look up any info. I’ve just been ready to pay my money to the box office simply because Dear White People is catchy as hell. and I live in Portland, OR – the WHITEST city in America – so I feel obligated to support such a movie title.

—Gem Jones

***At this point, the weekend passed, and many who hadn’t yet seen it were able to***

I want to say that overall I enjoyed it but definitely felt the “pressure” to be that movie that it was expected to be. I could tell Justin wanted to get as many racial points as he could within this near two hour film because it might be his — or anyone else’s — last chance to do it for a while. The circle of strife. I realllllly hope this isn’t reality, but from what we’ve been shown so far, there are only a certain number of slots open for movies for us, by us.. But, shit…that’s the problem. That’s impossible. We can’t portray the “universal” Black experience in one movie. Shit, in ten movies. THAT’S why we need many more movies. A lot of Black folk “types” we wish to see can be told through a series of stories that White people don’t have to worry about seeing. They see it all the time. Because, as we know, in the movie industry White is everyman. They’re the default. Blech.

But, at the same time, I thought it did a good job by also being a movie that wasn’t JUST about the racial aspect. It was really about belonging/identity to me. Which is a universal theme. I thought it did a good job of providing that balance.

I really enjoyed the cast the most and actually look forward to seeing them more.


Just saw it a few hours ago and I really liked it. I thought I was going to have a hard time enjoying it away from the shadow of the things I’d read already, but you fall into the story pretty quickly.

As far as critiques, the only opinion I’ve heard that was true for me was that it was shot INCREDIBLY fucking well, but the writing lacked at times. There *were* a lot of subplots, but I didn’t think it was anything overwhelming, and everything got a proper resolution.

As for whether or not it “accomplished” anything, I think it did an amazing job of being illustrative of real life scenarios, similar to what I love about Black-ish. I liked that even with the Black characters that you’re not supposed to like there was still a sense of pride that didn’t allow for certain comments to be made from the White antagonist characters (i.e. Coco and Mitch’s first scene).

For me, DWP is an effective, if subtle, contribution to the conversation about racial inequality and self-identification that’s been simmering recently. Sam’s comments about anarchists being the proverbial mirror holders was well-placed as the story started to come together. I want to see it again but on this first watch I took a lot away from it despite the occasional forced language.

—Ryan Sides

I couldn’t agree more, Ryan.

Tunde and I saw it tonight and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would love to see more movies like this made – movies highlighting the diversity in “Blackness” and the greyness of “the” Black experience. We colored folk are very multidimensional and I thought that was captured quite nicely in the film. The movie was far more about the Black people in the film than the White people and I love the title even more as a result.


I had an epiphany a few months ago: I enjoy juices and other beverages with raspberry added to them (raspberry iced tea, raspberry pink lemonade, raspberry Bellini, etc) so why not just make some raspberry juice? I already had a juicer and all types of blenders, so all I need to do was buy a bunch raspberrys, blend them up with some water and a little sugar, and voi-fucking-la!

So I did it, and it was…ok. Not the nastiest juice I’ve ever tasted, but I’ll never do it again. The idea of the juice was better than the juice itself.

This, in a contrived nutshell, is how I felt about Dear White People. I’m very glad so many people were able to enjoy it. This bodes well for the careers of all those involved with the film, as well as other Black creatives attempting to get their work financed. These are undeniably great things.

I just wish I enjoyed it too.


I went to see it this weekend and enjoyed it very much. I thought it was shot/filmed well, and I though it was well written. I have some small gripes with how heavy handed some of the messaging got. It was A LOT of dialogue, but something about that was endearing. It all felt very millennial, like a School Daze for people who didn’t go to an HBCU. It’s almost as if the director convinced himself if he could only make one film, this was the one he wanted it to be, and that’s why it had so much stuff, but by the end, I told myself, I hope this isn’t the last film we see from him. He has talent, as do some of the actors.


Yeah, I can definitely see the School Daze for an PWI thing here. Maybe for millennials it’ll have the same type of resonance that School Daze/A Different World had/has for those in Gen X.

But what did you actually like about it? This isn’t just addressed to you Jozen but to all others who enjoyed it. Most of the positive comments I’ve seen/read about it have been more abstract, dealing with how it’s “great to see Black people on film” and how the “issues it addresses” and “discussions it’ll prompt” are worthy of praise. But what about the actual movie?


I liked the story structure. This is essentially an ensemble cast playing in a coming-of-age film. I think that’s a tricky thing to pull off with one character, let alone four. So I thought they did that well, but didn’t make it completely Hollywood so to speak. Not everyone becomes friends, they still have to be individuals and even after this crazy scandal that’s rocked their school, you’re not convinced they learned something new. The only one gets that cliche Hollywood ending is Sam with her White boo, but that romance was so underdeveloped so I kind of took it as her realizing something about herself rather than the guy she was supposed to be with. Like she just needs to let more love in and be with someone who can let her be vulnerable.


To me, though, part of a good film IS that it prompts discussions. I think that is valid component of a good film. That it can live on PAST the actual screening. I know the primary focus is to entertain, but for me, those things can co-exist. A movie to me is far more than simply entertaining, it’s a potpourri of things. That’s art.

Like Jozen, I thought it was shot really well and that part alone makes me want to see more work from Justin. The composition of certain shots really encapsulated his style and the choices he made with these shots really inspired me.

As for the content of the movie, I think the overall theme of finding your own identity is what I liked about it. Even within the confines of our own race, we struggle to belong. Further, I liked how the characters were contradictory. There wasn’t anyone who was JUST this or JUST that, they all had internal struggles that gave them some depth. Now, I think because this was ensemble film and those are hard to do (especially in a film that has a difficult social message such as race, and a film that DOESN’T wanna be 4 score and 7 years long), some of the relationships between the characters lacked some depth. It definitely wasn’t a perfect film, nor did I expect it to be. But, for what it was… I liked it.


I echo a lot of sentiments already written. I loved the way the film was shot and the story development. One thing I took away from the movie is I’m damn sure I attended HBCUs for both of my degrees. The idea that I have to join the BSU just because I’m Black is absurd to me. Also, the notion that being Black is the first identifier is crazy. Yes, I’m Black but don’t lump me in. What if I like chess, or comic books, or anything else? I can’t be the athlete, or the nerd or the goth dude?

This movie gave me more Higher Learning than School Daze. The one part of the movie I didn’t care for the love story with Sam and her TA. I seemed a little too contrived in my opinion. For some reason the apex of the movie during the race riot and a lot of the private meeting of the leadership of the BSU reminded me of scenes from Gil Scott Heron’s Nigger Factory.

Overall I thought it was a great movie and I’m glad I could support.

—Tunde Akinyeke

Just wanted to come back and agree with some of y’all that this makes me want to see more from the creator and some of the actors. I didn’t know the star from Everybody Hates Chris was going to be in it so that was a pleasant surprise. Also, I really like Coco and Troy, together and individually, and I’m interested in what else Sam may have to offer (sorry I don’t know the actors’ names).

As far as my takeaway from the film, I want to talk about it with everyone! I want to see it again and I want to dissect not necessarily the film itself, but the different scenarios in the film and how other people have handled them in real life. I’m finding that Sam’s character and the realization of the importance of anarchists has really resonated with me. I’m working through my own newly-ignited passions in the wake of Trayvon and Mike Brown, so for that concept to have been articulated the way it was has put me in this mood of exploration and trying to carve out my contribution to the change in social climate.

Plainly put, I’ve just been pensive as shit since seeing the movie.


To summarize, everyone here who’s seen it liked it. A lot, actually. Except Panama and I, and neither of us liked it at all. There was exactly one scene I thought was laugh out loud funny — Sam’s silent film project about Obama — but nothing else prompted much of a reaction from me. No smiles, no anger, no cringing, nothing.

It could very well be coincidence that we happen to be the ones who didn’t enjoy the movie, but I think there might be something else here. Aside from Danielle (who, from my knowledge, still hasn’t seen the movie yet) we’re the oldest people in this thread. We’re both 35. No one else is above 32, and a couple of you are under 30. Basically, you’re all Millennials, but we’re technically a part of Generation X.

I wonder if our lack of like stems from this just not being a movie for us. We didn’t need a Dear White People the same way people five or ten years younger than us might have. I understand why it was necessary. And again, I’m glad it was made and seems to be doing well. But it just wasn’t necessary to me (and presumably Panama), and perhaps this lack of connection to it allowed us to be more critical of it.

Or maybe we’re just two old-ass haters. Which would mean Charles Barkley was right.


  • Wow, these are far more positive reactions than I’ve read from my peers on Facebook.

    • Damon Young

      I was surprised by the positive reactions here too. Almost makes me want to watch it again to see if I missed something.

      • Aquaflame

        No, you didn’t. I need someone to better explain what made it good first. I’ve seen a lot of positive praise on the net, but it is always very vague, not really any good examples IMO.

        • Meridian

          Meh. You sound like a professional critic at this point. If your sole purpose is to seek out what you don’t like about something you aren’t even capable of hearing what’s good about it. You want it to be bad so it is.

          • Aquaflame

            Professional critic? I’ll take that as a compliment! But no, I wanted this to be good, which is exactly why I have criticisms about it. I mentioned what I liked about it above, but what I disliked just weighs more for me. It may not be the directors fault, but the movie was hyped and marketed in such a way that I expected if anything for his analysis of race and belonging to be on point, but it wasn’t. Normally I could over look this but the film was supposed to do this if anything. I do like the cinematography, the style, and it was entertaining and well-paced, but in such a race sensitive time and environment, particularly at a time when our media presence is increasingly being white-washed or erased, and subtle racism is the norm now over overt racism, I don’t think “we” need more confining black tropes put out there in public without nuance. I’m hoping Simien (who has a ton of potential considering the way he shot the film) takes those criticism into account for his next movie. He tried to do too much and ended up skirting the surface on things without depth. Black people need DEPTH right now IMO. That was simply missing.

            But if that’s not what you’re looking for, you’ll probably enjoy the movie.

            • Meridian

              It isn’t a compliment. It sucks the life out of everything for people to be so vocal and excessive about what they hate and don’t like. This movie is what it is and should be recognized for what it was. It shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to take a dump on someone’s personal craft.

              As for the rest of it, I’m not even going to bother to give the benefit of the doubt that it’s constructive and I’m just gonna skip reading it.

              You are entitled to your personal feelings after all.

              • Aquaflame

                Wow, that a simple critique “sucks the life out” for you is pretty sad. How about not reading reviews, comments or opinions about a movie you are hard pressed to go see and enjoy? And we’re on a blog that specializes in social analysis and critique AND solicits debate…

                I’ll just leave this alone…

                • nillalatte

                  “we’re on a blog that specializes in social analysis and critique AND solicits debate..”

                  Since when? I’m just here for the ratchetness.

                  • Aquaflame

                    I stand corrected.

                • Meridian

                  A simple critique is a couple sentences or so on what you wanted to see differently or how you thought it needed to be improved. It isn’t paragraphs on paragraphs on paragraphs of everything you could identify as negative and then the follow up dismissal of what people said who enjoyed it. So yes. You are sucking the life out of it.

                  “How about not reading reviews, comments or opinions about a movie you are hard pressed to go see and enjoy?”

                  lol. I clearly just said I wouldn’t bother reading what you said in full. I make it a point to not read or listen to people who have that kind of energy.

                  “And we’re on a blog that specializes in social analysis and critique AND solicits debate…”

                  The atmosphere here is upbeat and progressive. The energy is constructive and supportive. Debate can happen in that spirit of things which keeps the conversation productive and interesting. You found it easy to rant on what you dislike and it wasn’t my cup of tea. That’s all.

        • I think a significant part is people just being happy that a movie like this exists rather than solely being good on its on merits. From what I’ve read at least. Not much has been written about what exactly makes this good outside of generic/broad statements regarding liking characters or some such.

          • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

            I’m finding it hard to figure out how, after allll that was provided in that post, that the statements are still generic and broad. Like, character development, shots, themes were ALL pointed out. Huge parts of a movie that equals its merits. And are seen in any other critique of any other film. What am I missing short of spoiling the entire movie for ya’ll? LOL

            Also, for me, this part “I think a significant part is people just being happy that a movie like this exists rather than solely being good on its on merits.”

            is both right and wrong. But, I gotta write more about that… ;)

            • Character development and themes are pretty broad to me. Why did these resonate with anyone is what I’m looking for really. I’m not quite sure what it being shot means. Fury, Gone Girl, and Guardians of the Galaxy are all shot well. They are all vastly different in tone, structure pacing, and color though.

              • Meridian

                Guess that makes a criticism on character development vague too then.

                • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

                  Was JUST about to say. The criticisms are vague, too. So.

              • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

                “Why did these resonate with anyone is what I’m looking for really.”

                That was answered. People resonated with the themes themselves… which are what themes… should go for. Resonating. Again, the movie would have to be spoiled to go that far into detail. And I don’t spoil movies without warning on principality. lol.

              • Do you want us to say what our favorite parts were? I mean, I liked the beginning, the middle, and the end. I enjoyed the film. What I enjoyed about it was those characters, it was a character-driven movie, whereas other films like Fury (war-based), Gone Girl (suspense/mystery), and Guardians of the Galaxy (fantasy/comic book adaption) are not. As for tone, it had a good range of dynamics but mostly it was loud, like you would expect a film about college activists to be. The structure was neatly divided into four parts. I liked that too.

          • Aquaflame

            That’s a good point. I was ambivalent about the movie myself, but I made the decision to give them opening weekend bucks, and that’s a lot coming from me (I rarely see movies in the theater). I supported the movie for the attempt alone, which I am appreciative of.

      • IcePrincess

        Hey champ, while we talkin bout movies, I was all psyched to see “gone girl”, but I thought it was just ok. I would advise ppl to skip it. It was a lil too out-there-weird for me. Plus it had a sloooooow start, definitely not good for folks who fall asleep on movies easily.

        • LMNOP

          Seen any good kids movies lately? We just got happy meal toys with Book of Life pictures and they made me really happy and now I want to see it, but I don’t really know what it’s about and movies aren’t cheap, so I want to know if it’s good. And if I google it, it’ll say yeah, this is a great movie, but these google reviews aint loyal.

          • IcePrincess

            Girl, I’m no help to you, cuz outside of the “despicable me” franchise, my son doesn’t watch a lot of kids movies. He loves horror movies lol. We went and saw “ouija” over the weeknd, which was pretty good lol. But I personally think that “book of life” does look good.

          • afronica

            I’ve found Rotten Tomatoes to be a good site to check. Crowd-sourced reviews, and a roundup of critics’ reviews to check as well.

      • Fatima La’Juan

        After seeing a screening a couple weeks ago I was only able to tell people, “it was good-ish”. Couldn’t really articulate what was good but I didn’t feel strong enough to say “don’t waste your money on that shit!” I can however give very specific reasons on what I did not enjoy or found underwhelming about the movie. But then again, perhaps it’s because I too am one of those 35 year old Gen-Xers.

      • GemmieBoo

        i dont think you missed anything. if you dont like it you dont like it. i think its absurd to think that everyone will all agree on a single movie. even if we ALL liked it, it would probably be for different reasons. thats what being human is all about and sh*t. unique as a fingerprint like a mug.

    • tgtaggie

      I bet it got better reviews than that horrible sequel to drumline last night. That has to be one of the worst tv moves I have watched in a while.

      • PunchDrunkLove

        Lawd why? That was awful….poorly written, poor actors. I was thinking while watching, the first one was MUCH better, and that wasn’t the greatest.

        • tgtaggie

          That was before Zoe Saldana became a Nuevo Black.

          If it wasn’t for ole girl and Latoya Luckett being pretty to look at.I wouldve turn the channel. And their acting was worse than Beyoncé from Carmen. I kept wondering why the pretty dude kept doing the rock eye raise. I thought he was having a stroke.

          I’m still lol’n at ole girl giving the dude the cookie and taking his drumming spot at few hours later. Then dude had a new girl an hour later talking about “we’re done”. I was like what kind of fluckery is that!?

          What’s even worse, the chick that played the lead (Alexandra Shipp) is playing in the upcoming Aayliah movie.

          • PunchDrunkLove

            Exactly….I can think of a couple of movies considered “bad”, but was better than this.

            There was some sho nuff fuggery when I saw Mario Van Peeples as pops….where they get him from?

            What was up with Nick looking “aged?” Oh and when Nick and ole dude was checking to see if they still had it, why oh why did the camera catch the small gut of the dude (I guess) playing for real, moved away and flashed back on Nick, as if he was playing and his flat stomach? You know when the camera would flash the drums, wrists and hands, not really “showing” full body shots of them playing, then back to capture intense expressions from the neck up (while they were supposedly playing the drums)…….hilarious.

      • Meridian

        I dead a*s refuse to watch that. Drumline was a d*mn good movie and it just doesn’t need to be rehashed. It’s like Love and Basketball 2.

        No. Just…don’t.

        • IcePrincess

          I didn’t watch either. After L&HH went off, I ended up watching a marathon of “first 48” reruns until I fell asleep.

          • Meridian

            Word. I watched some old Good Wife episodes and tweeted until I fell asleep. No knock to Nick Cannon, I hope it goes well for him, but I just wasn’t interested in seeing it.

        • panamajackson

          I’m gonna watch Drumline 2 tonight hopefully. But I also think there’s some significant revisionist history happening. While I enjoyed the first, it wasn’t a great movie by any stretch. Iliked it. But let’s not pretend it was a movie most of us even REMEMBER when talking about Black movies.

          • Meridian

            lol, yeeeeah. I definitely didn’t even remotely think of it the other day when we were talking about must-sees. I think I enjoyed it because I knew mad people in bands in the deep south. When I say the experience of watching it was live, it was live. I think that atmosphere contributed to my love of it.

          • tgtaggie

            I thought you were a connoisseur of bad black movies? You’ll probably enjoy this horrible sequel.

    • Aquaflame

      Same here. I saw the movie with a group of like 15 other black folks, and NO ONE liked it that much. At best, people were underwhelmed or found it mildly entertaining. At worst, they were disappointed. I don’t understand how they could like it that much. Reading the comments, they were so vague and surface I was starting to wonder who was getting paid for their up-votes. (*jk*)

      • This is why I addressed Damon’s questions when I commented on liking the story structure, and how each of the four main characters had their own coming of age tell. I’m a big fan of coming-of-age movies where the protagonist has to find themselves, and this movie had that in spades. All the actors played their characters convincingly, and they were all believable. Then, I thought it was clever the way they used this big party as a backdrop for everyone coming together.

        • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

          Agreed. I certainly don’t think this is ZOMG THE BEST MOVIE EVAR like folks who hated are making those who did actually like it to be, but I did appreciate that part.
          For me, though, is that I didn’t fall much into the hype of the movie being everything I ever dreamed of. Because with race, that’s impossible. Im. Possible. Yes, even yo fave race movie can’t tackle every single thing about race. I KNEW it would be polarizing, so I’m not even that surprised by the reactions, really.

  • I’m glad you saw it. It’s one of those classic entertainment things where you hear so much about it that you can’t form an opinion. I might take some time to see this though. Good discussion.

  • Andrea

    Ohhhh no. I don’t want to be too old to realllllly like it. Dagnagit. But I can see that happening. The everybody hates Chris kid was born in ’92. The director in ’83. I might not be his target demographic.

    • tgtaggie

      It looks like the director is around the same age 27-35 the majority of vsb readers

      The everybody hates Chris kid played Steve Urkel in a Key and Peele skit the other week. It was effimg hilarious. Lol

      • Andrea

        I Thought that was Chris (or whatever his real name is)! He looked so much like Urkel!! But I was like…I don’t think Urkel can be that age now. Unless one of those machines he used to make really did work. lol

    • LMNOP

      I’m not in Frozen’s target demographic, but my old azz enjoyed it anyway.

      • Andrea

        So Frozen was really good. I’m gonna check it out too! I’ve been angry at Rio 2 for tooo long. I really gotta let that go.

    • afronica

      I’m older than Panama and Damon, and I liked it.

      I think if you like thinky movies, you might like it. I was very surprised when I saw it was playing at the commercial multiplexes around me. I had assumed it would be going into the art house theaters. I think that difference in booking (and release and framing) strategies was a mistake.

      If you go to the movies for comedies, this ain’t it. If you go to the movies for rom coms, it ain’t that, either. If you go to the movies for feel good, heartwarming coming of age stories – ehhhh, no. Tentpole fan? Keep walking. Buddy cop movie? Police procedural/true crime? YA dystopia? Kiddie/horror/sci-fi? No, nope, naw and no way. And I think this list of what it isn’t is more of the problem than the movie’s content.

      We say we want something different. But do we?

      • Andrea

        Thank you for sharing this. I was planning to still check it out. But you just gave me back my enthusiasm! I will probably go Friday. Thank you soooo much!!!!!!

  • Justagirl

    The way these opinions developed as the piece went on echo my feelings exactly. Especially Damon’s final thoughts that the film is for millenials in a way that “black” media hasn’t yet achieved prior to this moment.

  • zoe

    i was wondering if this site would do a post about this movie (since there is a lot of ‘dear white ppl’ topics/discussion here) im going to see it thursday 1) because i enjoy the satire.. but 2) because i want this movie to do well… for the blk actors.. the young actors.. the writer.. it seems like the whole crew went through a lot to get this film out. i dont expect to have the same feelings i did after seeing higher learning ..or even school daze.. but i feel if i were still in a high school or collegiate atmosphere there would be lots to discuss. now.. at 29, it is what it is.

    did i NEED this movie to be made? probably not.. the youtube compilations and webisodes of awkward black girl were fine enough.. but its a movie.. with a lot of black cast members.. thats not a tyler perry movie.. ill take it.

    *back to lurking*

  • Aquaflame

    I think the final comment is correct, maybe we’re just older and didn’t quite feel it. I’m 32, and didn’t feel it either. Actually, I was entertained, though mildly so, there were some funny scenes/lines, and cute ones too, and yes the cinematography was AWESOME. But I wasn’t crazy about the stereotypical black archetypes used in the film, or that the only person who seemed to really be struggling from any identity/belonging issues that transcended race and made him human was Lionel. I mean, do you have to be gay to struggle with belonging to the black community? What about the fact that these are all supposed to be nerdy kids attending a top PWI? (Yet Lionel is the only nerd?)

    Of course the mulatto is extra-militant to the point of caricature (and the movie doesn’t do a good job of having her or her Afrocentric clan draw from actual racial experiences–which subtly delegitimizes their arguments, even if Simien didn’t mean to) but chooses to be her real self by letting her wavy hair cascade down and her white beau in by the end of the movie. Of course Troy is an all-star, super attractive black guy that indulges in his “40 white women and a mule” and of course he kinda just uses the dark-skinned black girl (though the most gorgeous woman in the movie, her beauty is so under-utilized in the plot! (and how typical is that)) and relegates her to the shadows in public, directly after she explains why she hates keeping black men warm for their next white girl. And of course, she wears blue contacts, hates her blackness, and is willing to do anything for a little attention.

    Stereotypes. I didn’t see these characters as very nuanced, human, or endearing at all–besides Lionel who is obviously Justin Simien himself. And what’s ironic is that as Lionel tries to write about the black house recognizing he had no real experience to draw from, because he didn’t fit in with them (whatever that means–we vary considerably), Simien’s movie kinda does the same–it tries to discuss race and blackness deeply but it doesn’t seem he has good enough of a grasp on it himself. Being black is not enough.

    All in all, too many stereotypical jokes were thrown out (like the above-mentioned scenarios) with no addressing of them at all. Just left hanging in the air for the white folks watching to think “Hmmm, darker black women want to be white? Oh, blacks don’t like gays? Kinda what I already thought… that feels safe…” etc. If it was side-splittingly funny, or introspectively deep, or either one, I’d have less complaints and take the bad with the good. But it was neither. Just a “meh” movie that actually perpetuated stereotypes without fully addressing/explaining them. It wasn’t really talking to “us,” and this makes addressing the film “Dear White People” even more problematic to me.

    • Meridian

      This makes me want to see it more for some reason. Very in-depth analysis so I’m curious as to if it’s accurate.

      • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

        For me, all those things were intentional. The exaggeration was on purpose. And to make a point. It was too ridiculous not to be. The whole tone of the characters was for satire/comedy purposes, to me.

        • Meridian

          That was my thought exactly. There’s a chance the characters were written poorly but it sounds like how Broadway acting differs from television acting. Everything is exaggerated and over the top and it’s like that on purpose.

          • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

            Actually one of my critiques were that the relationships weren’t developed as much as I’d like, but the exaggeration itself? Didn’t even have a problem. At all. Because I got the point.

        • SororSalsa

          There were a lot of elements of DWP that to me, were a love letter to Spike Lee. One scene, at the movie theatre box office, was Spike’s Greek chorus to a T. And I agree that those aspects were exaggerated and intentional.

          I enjoyed the movie, and I thought that they did a decent job of showing the main characters (Sam, Troy, Lionel) as multi-faceted black people. Yes, Sam’s romance with the TA was a bit contrived, but I thought it enhanced her conflicted feelings as the leader of the BSU. It wasn’t perfect, but I am excited about seeing more from Justin Simien.

          For those who haven’t seen them, there is a spoof of “The More You Know” PSA series from NBC on the DWP channel. I have to say…those were so clever that the movie was almost a letdown, but it gives you an idea of where the filmmakers were going.

        • MPM

          But for satire to be good, you still need to have characters with more depth. And the story needs to be somewhat realistic; otherwise, what is the satire satirizing?

    • menajeanmaehightower

      This makes me not want to see the movie. Maybe i should wait until it is on Netflix.

    • GemmieBoo

      “But I wasn’t crazy about the stereotypical black archetypes used in the film, or that the only person who seemed to really be struggling from any identity/belonging issues that transcended race and made him human was Lionel. I mean, do you have to be gay to struggle with belonging to the black community? What about the fact that these are all supposed to be nerdy kids attending a top PWI? (Yet Lionel is the only nerd?)”

      interesting. i didnt at all read Lionel as feeling ostracized from the Black community (at school, anyway) because he was gay. he wasnt accepted by the white boys in Bechet, and was even taunted and ridiculed daily. so he didnt fit in there either. i know a lot of Black students who dont feel like they fit in with Black *groups* if they dont have so-called typical Black interests or want to feel obligated to hang with the Black kids simply because theyre Black. and again, in Lionel’s case, this having nothing to do with his sexuality. and of note, Lionel never labels himself as gay, nor do you see him hanging out with “the gays” on campus. in fact, he has NO friends. which i also think has nothing to do with him being a “nerd” which i dont think was implied at all in the movie. liking Star Trek hardly makes one a nerd. he just was an outcast, for whatever reason. and i think thats what made his character so interesting – because he refused to put himself in a box, or be labeled (like Raven-Symone) and he boxed himself into loneliness as a result.

    • Great feedback! I agree these characters can be considered stereotypes but don’t these types of people exist? And while I do agree Coco and Troy didn’t grow as much as Sam and Lionel, wasn’t the main character Sam and do all people grow in real life? I think it was funny at time especially the afro bit and the president & dean talking at the end with the producer. I think it touched on Black men & women relationships, why Black face is bad, identity in general and discussion a/b the lack of positive Black images being depicted within media. Was it deep no, was it a step forward in regards to a movie that is not a TP or WP film, yeah. I can’t even say it was for us. I think the title stated its intended audience but I was still entertained and no men had to dress up like anybody’s grandmother for a laugh.

  • “We’re both 35. No one else is above 32, and a couple of you are under 30. Basically, you’re all Millennials, but we’re technically a part of Generation X.”

    actually i’m 33 but i don’t think the age gap (if that’s what you want to call it) has anything to do with it. personal experiences maybe?

    • LMNOP

      35 and 32 is not a huge difference lol, yall are just old millennials, Champ and PJ.

      • it really ain’t lol

  • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

    “We’re both 35. No one else is above 32, and a couple of you are under 30. Basically, you’re all Millennials, but we’re technically a part of Generation X.”

    Should we get off ya’ll lawn? Or should ya’ll just get a room? *skips away*

    • nillalatte

      Will you come see me in the old folks home? I’ll need entertainment. lmao…

  • Meridian

    “I’m working through my own newly-ignited passions in the wake of Trayvon and Mike Brown, so for that concept to have been articulated the way it was has put me in this mood of exploration and trying to carve out my contribution to the change in social climate.”

    This comment plus the comparisons to School Daze and Higher Learning make this film really endearing to me. It makes it seem like a modern day cult classic. Something that we all need to be poignant but is still colorful and dynamic. That’s a good blend of carrying a serious message and being able to translate it to the social dynamics of young people out there. It’s very hard to have a serious dialogue or to address matters of substance with my generation and I like that this is so widely praised and accepted.

    “Or maybe we’re just two old-ass haters. Which would mean Charles Barkley was right.”

    lmao! Why when I was reading you and Panama’s comments I was thinking, well of course you two didn’t like it. You’re both 47 years old and everyone knows grumpy uncles are one child away from being aged into the disgruntled grandpa process. There’s probably merit to the age thing though. I doubt a movie like this has a target audience of 35 and over and it just wouldn’t resonate the same. Also, older people always feel some type of way around opinionated youth. It pushes you out of a role where entertainment is your purpose but into a position of responsibility. You have to oversee the whippersnappers basically (or adjust your craft in the face of new talent) and that requires a different lense. Idk. I don’t think creators could watch this and receive it as entertainment.

  • cakes_and_pies

    Maybe it’s due to my age as well, but it was just palatable to me. I was expecting a movie seasoned like Lawry’s and got salt and pepper instead.

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