Angie Thomas’ young-adult novel The Hate U Give has been number one on the NYTimes Bestseller list for months now (save for a couple of days when another YA book briefly cheated its way to the top). It’s a great story about a Black teenage girl who attends a mostly White private school. While at school, she tries to avoid confrontations about race until one day a friend of hers is shot by a police officer for no other reason than because he is Black. The event prompts the protagonist to become an activist, and a few of her white friends support her in that endeavor.
It’s a good book.
November Criminals takes basically that exact same premise and completely bastardizes it by taking everything good about the book’s dynamic and flipping it (the movie is based on a novel that pre-dates The Hate U Give, but … still). Instead of a Black teenage protagonist, it’s a White teenage protagonist (Ansel Elgort) and his girlfriend (Chloë Grace Moretz) who fight for the Black teenager who is killed.
It is a painfully tone deaf, obscenely cringeworthy trailer. It looks AWFUL. From the very beginning. He’s giving the black kid books? What the fuck? It’s white savior bullshit from start to finish.
So basically, Black kid that serves them coffee is killed => woke white kids who save Black folk. That’s great. Really, really great.
Look, you wanna make a movie about being an ally, you make the leads Black, and the allies are supporting characters. You DON’T make the White people the saviors of Blackness. Not anymore. This whole idea that Black people can’t be the heroes of their own stories is driving me fucking bananas. I’m so tired of it. Those actors, directors, writers are goddamn adults. They should all know better than to sign on for this nonsense.
(I know this is the lowest of that flaming shit-piles problems, but they dressed Ansel up like 80s John Cusack and it made it even weirder.)
Anyway, the movie has been sitting on the shelf for nearly three years, if you’re wondering why an Ansel Elgort film is going straight to VOD on November 7th.