Recently, my wife and I started to watch a DVD we had rented, when, before the film even played, I learned something of great interest.
Apparently, in the world of creative entertainment, not only can white men not jump, but we represent most, if not all, of the criminal element.
Before the movie spun, the motion picture industry had inserted a one minute infomercial on the evils of movie piracy and intellectual theft. To make their melodramatic point, they showed a criminal stealing a cell phone. Some thug breaking into a car. And just a total reprobate, stealing a purse. Truly awful people.
The point of course being, just like no decent, law abiding citizen would ever contemplate committing such vile crimes, no upright individual would ever consider downloading a movie off the internet, or buying a cheap, burned copy, with someone’s popcorn in the bottom of the frame, from off the street.
Of course, in the pre-movie infomercial, all three criminals were white men. Which got me to thinking. In the make believe land of movies, television, and commercials, if there is a heinous crime to be committed, 99.9% of the time, it’s now going to be done by a white guy. In fact, it has to be done by a white guy.
Political correctness and the fear of offending, or worse yet, getting sued or picketed, is such, that you will no longer see blacks, Hispanics, most minorities, or even women for that matter, commit a fictional crime. No. Hollywood and the ad agencies have decided that criminal activity on film is now the sole domain of the “too successful for his own good” white male.
Think I’m exaggerating? Watch any commercial on television for any one of the home alarm companies. One hundred percent of the time, it’s always a white guy breaking into the home. In fact, there is one spot now running, where we see an upper-middle class African-American family in a panic as a burglar is trying to break into their home. And just who is this burglar? Why none other than that well known and ubiquitous, evil white male.Don’t like that example. Okay. Instead, watch any of the commercials for any of the credit card companies that try to sell you a card to replace traveler checks. As the commercial plays out, you see that some low-life, former Enron-like executive white male, has, once again, ruined the vacation of mom, dad, muffy and skip as they tried desperately to enjoy Paris before it too, was torched by insurgents in training.
Still not convinced. Fine. Watch any sitcom or one hour drama on television. Almost without exception, every fictional crime being committed in all of these shows is being done by a white male. “Case closed, Monk. Sanitize your hands and let’s lock up the Caucasian.”
Think the big screen is different. Wrong. Most crimes that take place on the silver screen are committed by white men. Of course, just for a laugh, Hollywood will, on occasion, out due itself as it stretches the bounds of political correctness, by throwing a completely impossible scene of reverse stereotyping at the film fan.
Case in point, the movie “Falling Down” where the defense contractor, played by famous white guy Michael Douglas, completely snaps and starts shooting minorities. My favorite part of the movie is where he goes into a burger joint that is supposed to be in South Central L.A. and is served by none other than Dee Dee Pfeiffer. A whiter than white Valley girl working in a burger joint in South Central.
Obviously, for far too many years, minority and African-American actors were marginalized, stereotyped, and blatantly insulted in film, on television, and even in commercials. I would submit that you still have some of that behavior happening today. Both by elements of mainstream entertainment, and ironically, and quite tragically, in a number of Hip Hop and Gangsta rap videos which purposely denigrate and disrespect black women, while fostering the worst possible stereotypes of black men.
But is the solution to those past and current sins, to create a fairytale entertainment world in which only white men can be portrayed as criminals. While amusing in its absurdity, it also draws attention the fact that as a nation, we are still not as comfortable or accepting of diversity as some would pretend.
*** Douglas MacKinnon was press secretary to former Senator Bob Dole. He is also a former White House and Pentagon official and the author of the forthcoming novel, “America’s Last Days.”