“Green Book” is a major frontrunner to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but the amount of controversy surrounding the film seems to not be stopping.
In an interview with The Wrap, NAACP president Derrick Johnson called “Green Book” a “missed opportunity” to tell a nuanced story about race relations. “Mahershala Ali’s portrayal, I mean, his skills were great. So I see [the film] as a missed opportunity to have great content that’s more accurate than not,” Johnson said. “So for me, it was great acting skills for Mahershala, with a false storyline that’s masquerading to be true.”
The NAACP president criticized “Green Book” for relying on a “negative stereotype” in its “white savior” and “magical negro” depiction of black and white relations. Johnson slammed the film as a “setback” in terms of depicting nuanced black characters in film. “When you create a movie like ‘Green Book’ and you project as if there’s a white guy introducing a black guy to fried chicken — a traditional African American dish — which is patently wrong,” Johnson said. “The family says that there was never any conversation with the family about the uniqueness of the character. So as a result of that, none of the quality nuances of the character came through and it fell on a very myopic, negative stereotype that should no longer exist.”
Johnsons attack are clearly aimed at writer Nick Vallelonga’s screenplay and director Peter Farrelly. However, despite Shirley family members condemning the film as a “symphony of lies” and Johnson saying it was a “false storyline,” earlier last week tapes were released of the real-life Shirley and Vallelonga conversing as fiends, which quickly got people questioning whether the Shirley clan were just bitter towards the film being made without their consent and the actual fact that they had a very rough, distancing relationship with Dr. Shirley, who didn’t even put them in his will.
About the tapes:
Posted by Deadline‘s Mike Fleming: “I had done a long interview with Green Book‘s Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, where those actors kept saying they found the handle on their characters by listening to a series of audio tapes featuring the actual voices of Dr. Donald Shirley and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga.
“I thought tracking down and publishing them might help swing the narrative of Green Book back to the road trip as they sat in that car together and were the only ones who witnessed the events and the institutional racism and hatred they encountered in the Jim Crow South. I got my hands on these tapes and, with the help of an editor, put them in the digestible soundbites you can hear below.
“It takes a while to get through them, but you might want to do it soon. I got them on the sly, and have no idea if I’ll be told to take these down.”
In other words, listen to these tapes ASAP.