The Green Mile. Ghost. The Legend of Bagger Vance. Driving Miss Daisy. THE DAMN GREEN MILE. Yes I had to say it twice.
All four movies have two things in common, they were critically acclaimed and they were contrived almost fully using the device of the magical negro trope. Well actually they have a third thing in common, in that I have seen them all (except Bagger Vance) multiple times.
What is the magical negro trope exactly? While definitions vary slightly, the universal understanding of the magical negro is how movies use wise, valiant, otherworldly Black characters in movies as devices to help and often teach the white protagonist to be a better person. Spike Lee started the academic conversation about this back in 2001, but even without his heralding, we all know it when we see it.
The concept of the magical negro has stepped off the silver screen in public discourse before too. President Barack Hussein Obama was often the target of the magical negro discussion. To the point that that pill popping Rush Limbaugh had the nerve… the unmitigated gall… to sing a song “Barack the magic negro” to the tune of Puff the magic damn dragon. You think I am kidding? Google it. There is a whole bootleg video on Youtube. I refuse to link it here though.
Wait wait wait. I have to include one of my favorite movies in this conversation “The Imitation of Life”… I am still mad about ALL OF THAT DAMN MOVIE. And yes you did kill your mother Sarah Jane. You killed her!!
Deep sigh. Keep it together Kristi. It was just a movie.
Enter Eugene Goodman.
For those who are not aware, he is the capitol police officer who distracted a mob of angry, violent rioters from the Senate Chambers. There is a video floating around that shows him blocking the hallway that led to the chambers, then going as far as shoving one of the rioters to bait the mob into chasing him in a different direction. His swift decision to put himself in harms’ way most surely saved countless lives and injuries.
Now let me be very clear, Eugene Goodman is a hero. He deserves all of the accolades available from the Congressional medal of honor to the… moon. I will sign any petition necessary. I will champion any discussion. I am here for all of it.
What he doesn’t deserve is a movie where after saving the seat of democracy, he feels the need to reach out to the horn wearing, organic food only eating criminal to help him see the error of his ways. He doesn’t deserve to take the kids of the MAGA hat wearing seditious Becky under his wings as she languishes for her court date. He doesn’t deserve to be the affable partner to the newly created white character that really saved the day. That is not the answer. THAT CAN NOT BE THE ANSWER.
Morgan Freeman, while a national treasure, is tired, let him rest. Will Smith is chilling with Jada across the room from the red table top. Cuba Gooding Jr… is doing something. Matthew McCoughney is busy… probably filming another white savior movie. It’s almost MLKs birthday. Hell it’s a pandemic. I will start naming completely unrelated reasons why this shouldn’t happen if necessary. Sigh.