Aliens In War

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George Lucas' Red Tails

The Missus and I decided to catch this flick on cable tonight via a four-dollar-off coupon – not that this was the reason we chose to see the movie. We're both fans of George Lucas cinema, and, well, serendipity carried the night.  

If I hadn't known of Lucas' involvement, I would certainly have guessed it; the movie is heavy on flying, pilot camaraderie, patriotic schmaltz, and a little light in the character department. Something like Star Wars guys flying USAAF P-51s. The movie has been panned on many fronts; still, Lucas knows how to appeal to your movie-going viscera. 

For those who have been living under a rock, the movie is about the Tuskeegee Airmen – a group of black WWII pilots, trained to fly in combat – all this in the midst of the pre- and post-WWII worldwide eugenics movement. Of course, these airmen were discriminated against. Of course, they prevailed in their mission to fight for their country. The stuff of all rah rah war movies made in the U.S.

What's significant about this movie on this subject is two-fold:

  • first, it was made with a near-total black cast. 
  • Second, Lucas and his crew seemed to feel no need to make it as a "black" movie. That it was made as a wide-appeal, commercial venture demonstrates Hollywood's realization that there was no need for a "race" movie on this topic, while portraying with social adeptness what it might have been like to fly as black, alienated but dedicated Americans against the Wehrmacht.

This movie, as a social mirror, tells us we've come a long way in the U.S. in ameliorating discrimination, but that the shadows of discrimination remain all too hauntingly with us.


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