Please go to the movies
ELINOR TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 1/22/2012, 8:21 p.m.
This weekend, take a moment out and go to the movies.
Not just any movie, but the new movie "Red Tails," which opens on Friday.
"Red Tails" is based on the stories of the Tuskegee Airmen, the pioneering Black pilots who fought during World War II.
Despite segregation and racism, these brave men overcame tremendous odds to become some of the greatest pilots that ever served in the armed forces.
Yet, even though these great men have been heralded as heroes, it has taken decades for a major motion picture chronicling their lives and exploits to come to fruition.
George Lucas, of "Star Wars" fame, has wanted to bring the story of "Red Tails" to life for more than 20 years, but was consistently turned down by major Hollywood studios because his scripts had no major white characters. Lucas says Hollywood does not believe that an all-Black cast can make a box office hit-this is why we must go out and support this film.
We as African-Americans go to the movies in droves. We see all types of films, but the industry believes that our support alone can't make a blockbuster; thus too many movies about us are never made.
This is not a new phenomenon. Years ago, back in the early 1990s, Spike Lee found himself in the same predicament when he wanted to make a movie about our shining prince Malcolm X. He was only able to get the film made because several Blacks helped support the project, including Bill Cosby.
And Lucas' fight over "Red Tails" was no less a feat. In the end, he had to put up his own money, over $50 million, to get the film made the way he thought it should be done.
And so the same old problems are still an issue in terms of getting our stories to the big screen. If this movie fails at the box office, it could mean another step backward for quality Black films.
We need to support this film so that it exceeds expectations, so we can demand that big Black films with Black casts make it to the big screen.
That is why we must all go to the movies this weekend.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is too important not to be supported. This is one of those films that needs to be seen by every generation. These men were our grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Many of our children may never personally know a World War II vet-we need to ensure that these stories are memorialized for all time.
While TV movies are fine, we do not want Black history to be relegated to made-for-TV movies. That is just what will happen if "Red Tails" does not open with a big box office take. That is why, when we have the opportunity to support Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Method Man and Ne-Yo in leading roles, as well as the men they are playing, we should.
We need more movies that highlight the best and the brightest of us.
If we let "Red Tails" fail, we will let down all the generations to come.
Go to the movies. It's more important than you think.