Peter Farelly's ‘Green Book‘ Slammed As ‘White Savior Film'

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This past week's controversy, which had "Green Book" star Viggo Mortensen daring to utter the 'n-word' at a post-screening Q&A, slightly tainted director Peter Farelly's chances at winning a Best Picture Oscar, something which I've predicted might happen ever since I saw the film in September. 

Regardless of that, I believe that Green Book's chances don't lie in Op-Ed think-pieces about the Viggo controversy, but rather in how audiences will greet it this weekend and beyond, especially when word of mouth hits. 

However, a slew of "Green Book is racist"-esque writeups have suddenly hit the web. NBC News's Jenni Miller says  'Green Book' is a movie about racism, made by white people for white people. See the problem? Whereas VICE's Noel Ransome tries to make the case that the film is another unneeded white people's guide to racism. 

EDIT: Another write-up, courtesy of IndieWire, has writer Tambay Obenson claiming 'Green Book' has a 'Magical Negro' problem.

The most scathing of these is an 11.15 piece from Shadow and Act writer Brooke Orbie which goes by the headline "Green Book' Is A Poorly Titled White Savior Film." Right there and then you should know whether you want to continue reading it or skip it for fear of your head exploding into the ether. I took one for the team and read Orbie's write-up which was predictably delivered with all the outrage you'd expect in 2018.

If you don't feel like scrolling through the entire thing, the gist of it is that Orbie wanted the film to be told through Don Shirley's perspective instead of "white savior" Lip. It's a perfectly understandable point of view, but the movie we get is the opposite of that. Lip is very much the hero of the film. I can understand how someone can be irked by the prospect of a movie being told through the eyes of a racist.

Here's Orbie explaining that:


"It's Lip who convinces Dr. Shirley to embrace other Black people, to eat fried chicken, to listen to Black music, to play the piano in a Black bar. In one of his final acts of white saviorism, Lip puts an arm of protection in front of Dr. Shirley before shooting a gun into the air to scare away the Black people that he's intuited are trying to break into Dr. Shirley's car. It's Lip who must teach Dr. Shirley not to count his money in a public place or Black people will try to rob him."


"It's Lip who gets Dr. Shirley out of handcuffs when Dr. Shirley's arrested for engaging in sexual activity with the white man at the YMCA. It's Lip who stops racist white men with guns from killing Dr. Shirley  at that whites-only bar. It's Lip who must tell Dr. Shirley never to go out alone in the south without Lip there to protect him."


"Because this is based on Lip's version of events. Because this is a white savior story. And moviegoers who will leave this movie having learned for the first time that Dr. Shirley and Green Books existed but only through a white lens, deserved better than this shallow introduction to an integral part of Black history. "


Reviewing the movie that wasn't made is obviously detrimental to your final analysis of the finished product that was actually made. The "what could have been" scenario is nevertheless something that should be viewed in a film review, artistic intentions should always be microscoped for the reason that if we point out these inconsistencies maybe change can actually happen. I'm fine with that. Change is great. For now, I'm not irked whatsoever with "Green Book," it entertained me, had great characters and was very funny.

"When will Hollywood stop centering white people in Black stories? If the much-lauded Peter Farrelly film 'Green Book' is any indication, no time soon."


Filmmakers, it seems, can never win. 

"In Farrelly's Green Book, Black people don't even touch the Green Book, let alone talk about its vital importance to their lives. Instead, the film centers the story of a racist white man who makes an unlikely Black friend on a journey through the American south and becomes slightly less racist. "

This reviewer is awfully upset that they chose to make a movie that accurately portrayed a real person. Then again, positioning Viggo's Lip, who is by all accounts a racist, as the hero of the story does seem to irk quite a few of the film's naysayers.

"And you still won't know about it after watching this movie, because the Green Book, much like the film, only exists as a prop to enhance white understanding of white racism and white privilege in this country."

Oh God.

"So, instead, we get mere glimpses of who the world-class Black pianist with three doctorates was, as the story quickly pivots back to Lip, who has been invited to Dr. Shirley's home to interview for the driver position. Lip is desperate for money for his family after the Copacabana has been shut down for repairs, and though the 8-week / $125-per-week job is tempting, Lip makes it clear he's not going to be a Black man's butler for any price. Dr. Shirley will have to handle his own bags, though if anybody needs roughing up, Lip is happy to oblige. The racist gets the job. "


So are we now going to pretend that the '60s was not a racist time in America? Did anybody complain about "Schindler's List" being antisemitic in its portrayal of Jews? If you want to portray a time and place you have to be accurate and "Green Book" tries to depict a time when there was a clear divide between both black and whites. 


"Instead of engaging his Black neighbors, Dr. Shirley sneaks away to the local YMCA where he hooks up with a gay white man. Instead of drinking in a Black establishment where he's welcomed, he sneaks into a whites-only bar for a drink. His mission is to tour the south to "change [white] people's hearts" (I can't help but think of Langston Hughes here: "They'll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed."). "


I don't get what Orbie is trying to say here. What's the point? That Shirley would rather be white than black? His character wants social acceptance and does not want to be denied that. That's why he tries to sneak into these cracker joints, he believes segregation should not be happening in America. This is his fight against that.

Why are people so pissed off that Nick Valellonga wanted to write a tribute to his Dad's friendship with Don Shirley? He had to write it from his dad's perspective because that's where he got the story from -- Tony Lip, in essence, was the source for the story.


The film-snob knives are out for poor "Green Book"

Jeffrey Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere pushes back on the 'Green Book is racist narrative" by saying  "You know what’s so wonderful about these hit pieces? They’re pushing an observational agenda that white liberals will consider and possibly even accept, which is this: If you like Green Bookthere might be something suspicious about your own racial attitudes.

“The White Woke Oscar folks don’t want to look like racists, and now liking Green Book will somehow make them seem this way,” a friend said earlier today."

“White Woke Oscar has to feel good about itself — it has to feel like it is not seen as racist and so it will shy away from any sort of insinuation. It used to just be plain old scandals — affairs, beating people up, divorce in some cases. Now it’s any whiff of racism or anything that can in any way be interpreted as harassment, rape or assault."

The left is caught up in a Salem-like mass hysteria thing where people look around and wonder who is the racist and who is the rapist. Any white person can potentially be exposed as a racist or a rapist. All someone has to do is either interpret an action or accuse you of same in public.