RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Podcast Open in Mobile App

« Detroit Tigers Begin 2011 Playoffs Against the New York Yankees - Detroit Sports History | | Main | Are Cris Carter's comments motivating the Detroit Lions? - Detroit Sports Media | »

Dead Bro Walking: Why are Black Film Characters Not Making it to the End Credits?

“In a film which involves a lot of character deaths, the one actor of color will inevitably be the first to go." -

Don't act like you haven't noticed. Here are some famous examples from tvtropes:

In X-men First Class, Darwin dies first.

In Apocalypse Now, the two black guys are the first and second members of the boat crew to die.

In Gremlins, the black science teacher dies first.

And these are just a few of the names of black characters who died first in major motion pictures. The list of black people who who eventually die in a movie is a lot longer.

Oh Hollywood, adding black corpses to the body count does not mean you are being more diverse. Having one black person in your movie just to kill him or her off shows just how little you valued their life to begin with. I’m not saying that only white people should die in movies, but I am disturbed by how easy it is to kill a black person in a film.

And killing them off so early before we even get a chance to discover who they are is just deplorable.  Take Darwin in the latest X-men movie. The lead villain, Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), has all of the young mutant recruits lined up in front of him.

We hardly know anything about these characters except for Mystique; any of them could be the one to get killed. But wouldn’t you know it; Shaw picks out Darwin (Edi Gathegi) and kills him while the rest of the mutants watch. Some super team.

But the characters do feel an emotional shockwave after Darwin’s death…for about two minutes before they cut to the training montages.

Did you ever stop to wonder why Darwin wasn’t shown more in the trailers? It’s because he wasn’t in the film that long. All his scenes put together would probably be shorter than the movie trailer. He was driving a taxi cab, then he was in a room with the other mutants, then he got killed.

Using a black character’s death to show how powerful the villain is or to raise the stakes for the white characters is insensitive and stupid. How am I, a black male, supposed to feel when I watch this? The one black male character, the person I immediately identify with, gets killed and is soon forgotten. What is this supposed to tell me about the value of my life? Is my only reason for existence to make sure that white kids are extra careful the next time they cross paths with Kevin Bacon?

Maybe if there were more than one black character in a movie this wouldn’t sting so much.. Even in movies taking place in New York City, there is only one black person who is allowed to speak.

Serenity, based on my beloved Firefly, killed of  Shepard Book but at least Zoe was still alive. If that just sounded like gibberish to you, leave the internet my point is that while they still killed a black character, they had another black character that did not die. And there was a major white character death as well. So I can take comfort in the fact that everyone was in danger and not just the black guy.

Instead of having one black character to show how progressive you think you are, have multiple black and ethnic characters to portray reality. Because brown skin people are everywhere! There’s no place a white audience can escape to except the movies and country music concerts.  (and don't even bother trying to argue that The Help is doing anything positive for black people or race relations).

Listen Hollywood, I know it took a while for you guys to adjust from no black people to one per film, but we need to take this movement further.

And white audience members, having a black guy survive to the end is not a threat to white male masculinity.  We identify and live vicariously through the characters on screen just like you do. Stop trying to kill us off and shut us out because we are people too. 

If you need me I’ll be in my room hiding from Kevin Bacon.





TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Dead Bro Walking: Why are Black Film Characters Not Making it to the End Credits?:


The comments to this entry are closed. Video Corner

MTR Radio: Click Below to Listen Online Now 24/7!

blog advertising is good for you


View My Stats