Indian. Mexican. Spanish. Jewish. Muslim. Italian. Hell, even Hawaiian if you can believe it.
Taking place at the fictional Winchester University, Dear White People tells the initially muddled tale of four black students navigating through life at a predominately white school. Feel free to use the poster as a reference, or even my much more sophisticated chart below. Either way, our main characters go a little something like this:
Pick any of the above, and I have been labeled it on more than one occasion in my lifetime. And while I'd love to claim any of 'em as distinctly who I am, when it comes down to it, I always end up bubbling in 'white/Caucasian' on standardized forms. And even then, I hardly feel it applies. I may appear one thing, and actually be another, but honestly? I don't really identify with any of them.
If only I could bubble in 'indifferent'.
As foolish as I'm likely to come across as, I'm not indifferent toward other races and cultures, it's just not something that I honestly put a lot of time into. Maybe that's a mentality born out of sheltered unawareness (with a dash of growing up in Hawai'i), but I've always been more concerned with your mindset rather than your bloodline. You like the same shit I do? We're cool. You don't? We're still cool. But we're probably not going to be good friends.
Dear White People is a film that brings race and racism front and center. And as the aforementioned indifferent dickhead, at times the film was utterly jarring. It's easy for me to forget that racism is alive and well where it has no business to be (if that makes sense), but clearly that isn't the case.
I work in an inner-city middle school where race is the reason FOR EVERYTHING. But these are kids, you know? Eighth graders. But at a prestigious university? No way, right? People are too smart for that bullshit. Too grown up. Too mature. Well...not so much.
- Samantha - juinior, college DJ, shitstarter. Samantha runs for, and surprisingly wins, Housing Leader of the traditionally all-black Armstrong/Parker house. This was a position that used to belong to...
- Troy - Her ex-boyfriend and son of the Dean of WU. Troy's the privileged one, who may not be black enough for the rest of his housemates. He's got a white girlfriend, who happens to be the sister of Kurt, head of the political satire magazine on campus. Kurt's dad? He's the President of the school (and subsequently the boss of Troy's dad). Troy, if I remember correctly, at one point hooks up with...
- Coco - a female student trying to make a name for herself with a YouTube channel. Coco is also vying for a job with Gabe, while at the same time trying to up her game enough to be the star of an upcoming reality show. That show, wouldn't likely star...
- Lionel - the possibly homosexual outcast, desperately trying to find footing somewhere in this story. Eventually Lionel finds his niche while landing a job writing for the school newspaper. His topic? The housing controversy...featuring Samantha and Troy (his soon to be roommate). With a little dash of Coco for good measure.
Hey, look! It's the Yays and Boos!
|Does Troy sort of look like Tiger Woods?|
- Tessa Thompson, playing Samantha, is great. Even if she is a Lisa Bonet-wannabe.
- Pedro Cerrano, aka The All State Guy, aka the esteemed Dennis Haysbert. Even with minimal screen time, Haysbert always classes things up. Jobu would be proud.
- Even though I've never seen one, I have nothing but respect for all the Madea-related hatred some of the characters drop in this one.
- Dude, Samantha's Gremlins theory? That shit was awesome. Even better than White Guy's sweet ass Coming to America reference.
- The Tip Test scene was kind of cool. I wasn't exactly sure of its relevance...but I enjoyed it.
- The writing of the invitation was a good angle. When this was dropped on us, I kind of rubbed my hands together Montgomery Burns-style. Excellenttttttt.
- I also dug the scene where Lionel headed to the BSU meeting. It's about to hit the fan. Ruh roh.
- And finally, the credits. As awful as those clippings were, they provided the perfect amount of weight to the generally light-hearted vibe Dear White People dresses itself in. It's got important things to say, but handles it in an readily-accessible way.
- Voting by app? F--king kids these days.
- That was a pretty harsh outgoing message, no?
- So...there's a point where I'm pretty sure every single character totally sells out. I thought Lionel would stay legit, but even he gives in to the power of the nookie.
- And speaking of, did everyone have a side-piece of the Caucasian persuasion?
- Black Mitch. From Vermont. I swear I went to college with this guy. His name was Bryan. He went by B-Nice. If only I were joking.
- I hate flashbacks from twenty minutes prior. Yes, I realize I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but twenty minutes? Imply that shit. You don't have to show me.
- And finally, It's a Small World After All. As impressive as this campus appears, apparently it only has eleven students on the entire campus. These f--kers can't go two feet without running into each other, seeing someone kiss someone they shouldn't, or visually confirming their white boyfriend/girlfriend. Yes, I get it, it's a movie about these four people. But, like...what the f--k? Again they run into each other? Doesn't anyone have class? (though I guess if they did, they'd all be in the same one, huh?).
Look, I'm not going to lie to you. I watched this one two weeks ago. At this point in my life, if I can remember if I'm currently wearing pants, I feel like that's a pretty major win. But looking back on a movie I saw weeks ago? It feels as if it's some sort of distant memory.
You know, when everything was black and white.