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The White Male Creators of 'Green Book' Could Stop Talking at Any Time and That Would Be Fine

By Roxana Hadadi | Film | January 9, 2019 |

By Roxana Hadadi | Film | January 9, 2019 |


The white men behind Green Book really need to stop talking.

Like, seriously. Stop talking! EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS BAD! Everything you say is bad.

The Golden Globes already feel like they were 17 years ago, but no. They were just on Sunday. And that’s when we all had to sit through Peter Farrelly, director of Green Book, accepting the Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy award, yelling at the orchestra to shut up so he could lecture us very righteously and very exhaustingly about how racism would be fixed if we would just talk to each other.

Whoa! What?? That’s all it takes????? Not dismantling centuries of systematic oppression? Or acknowledging that arms of the state like the police and the Justice Department often enforce those ingrained laws? Or fighting against our current administration and the millions of people who support our president when he says things against black people and Hispanic people and Muslim people and disabled people and women????


But no, that is not the only very wise thing someone associated with creating Green Book had to tell us, the uneducated masses who just don’t understand their movie, the dissenters who think, “Huh, maybe the filmmakers crafting a movie about Dr. Donald Shirley should have found the fucking family of Dr. Donald Shirley.” Who are we to think such things! HOW DARE WE! IF ONLY WE WERE TALKING TO RACISTS TO HELP THEM NOT BE RACIST!

(Oh, but these same white men who want us to talk haven’t reached out to Shirley’s family to apologize for not including them in the movie. Only the black man in the film, Mahershala Ali, did that. Guess these dudes don’t love talking THAT MUCH!)

To counter our contrariness, Nick Vallelonga, son of Lip Vallelonga, who wrote Green Book so that his father comes out looking like a hero for telling another more-racist relative, “Hey, maybe don’t be mean to black people, just consider it, I guess,” would like us to know that he doesn’t understand the “white savior” narrative people have been (rightfully) assigning Green Book. You know why Nick, who now has a fucking Golden Globe for Best Screenplay because we are living in the worst timeline, doesn’t get the “white savior” allegations? Because, as he told The Hollywood Reporter:

“I never thought that he [Lip] was ‘saving’ anything — the only savior I know is Jesus. I think it’s kind of insulting to Mahershala Ali because he’s on top of that character, how he’s portrayed and how he comes across, and he would not have let anything go by.”

BUDDY. The only savior you know is Jesus? And then you’re going to speak for Mahershala Ali? (Who, by the way, is Muslim, and although we as Muslims acknowledge Jesus a lot in the Quran, maybe don’t use your Christian faith as a way to deflect criticisms of your movie, hot damn).

The whole Hollywood Reporter piece is a trip, and by that I mean, I’m so tired after reading this. So damn tired.

Octavia Spencer, an executive producer of the film, is also interviewed for the story, and she raises a point that I don’t entirely disagree with, but that I certainly disagree with in the context of this movie:

“When does one get to tell their story? This is actually Nick’s family’s story. It’s bound to someone else’s story, but if this white man can’t tell his own story, then I don’t know where we’re headed. Should Asian people only tell Asian stories? Should African-Americans only tell African-American stories? I don’t think we should ever get in the business of saying who should be telling certain stories. It’s crazy to me.”

Spencer is factually right, I suppose — people should be able to tell stories they want; that’s the point of free speech. But is it morally right in every instance? I can understand that Spencer is protecting a property she helped create, one that is already winning awards and garnering nominations from the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America and will certainly receive some nods from the Academy, too. She has skin in the game here. But also? Green Book doesn’t deserve those damn nominations or awards! COME. ON.

If you can’t acknowledge that maybe movies about racism shouldn’t be told entirely from the white perspective all the time — and that to do so is often inherently a white-savior narrative — and that they will always be praised, regardless of quality, because that is who we are as a culture — then please stop giving interviews. Stop it! STOP IT. Take your own advice, Peter Farrelly.


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Roxana Hadadi is a Senior Editor for Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

Image sources (in order of posting): Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images,