I’m trying — trying — not to come down too hard on Machine Gun Preacher. It’s a decent enough trailer, though it’s a bit heavy on the melodramatic one-liners and inspirational music. Despite being something of a Douchey McGreasebag, I actually like Gerard Butler in some flicks, as long as he stays away from romcoms. However, children, I am what they would call conflicted.
You see, it’s true. The story of Sam Childers, former drug dealing biker gang member, is an absolutely riveting one. How a man like that turns his life around and dedicates himself to forming the Angels Of East Africa, a home for orphaned children, tohelping the poor, starved, and war-ravaged people of a country thousands of miles away? That is some dramatic material, and it’d be surprising if it didn’t get made into a movie.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think — here’s yet another movie about war and famine ravaged Africa, and once again the noble hero is a white guy. A white American, no less. The thing is, there are countless powerful, emotionally affecting stories of tragedy and heroism that take place in Africa that involve actual Africans, but as is typical, Hollywood chooses, Hotel Rwanda aside, to focus on a Caucasian protagonist. It is endlessly frustrating. Look at the IMDB page — there are an astonishing number of white people, considering it’s a movie about the plight of the Sudanese.
You see, here’s my issue: I have zero problems with Machine Gun Preacher being made, although it looks like it might be a healthy bit of melodramatic Oscar bait. I think it’s a hell of a story, and it deserves to be told. I just wish Hollywood had the fucking wontons to produce the other stories, the ones about neighbors helping and saving each other in the midst of the brutality and violence and horror around them. The stories that show that there are other Africans besides warlords and children, besides soldiers and victims. The stories that use Africans as the story, not the setting.
I don’t have a problem with Sam Childers’ story being told. I just wish they’d tell the other stories too.
So that aside, watch the trailer. It’s got a killer cast — besides Butler, it stars Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, and the phenomenal Kathy Baker.