Before we get started, this isn’t me defending the Academy’s decision to award the movie for best picture. Those who read my long list of those whom I chose for different categories know I chose Black Panther to win. I am however defending the movie itself, because I’m learning recently that the movie has been unfairly getting dragged through the mud for quite some time.
Green Book winning best picture seems to have started that back up. People state that Green Book relies on stereotypes, or that it relies on the “white savior” troupe. These couldn’t be further from the Truth. Green Book is more than just another Driving Miss Daisy loaded with stereotypes, it’s a journey of self acceptance as well as an Italian waking up to just how messed up the world is beyond is slummy Brooklyn Neighborhood.
While Viggo Mortensen’s character is considered the “lead” it’s actually Mahershala Ali’s character that really drives this movie (no pun intended). If anything, the true savior in this movie is Don Shirley. This movie is more of a commentary of how being the white savior can go horrifically wrong. Tony is a driver/bodyguard who was specifically chosen by Shirley due to his body of work. You learn later that Shirley did his tour of the Jim Crow south of his own volition, to make a point.
The movie does a solid job of really bringing to light Tony’s ignorance of the world outside of his Brooklyn neighborhood. Tony’s inability to control his temper is a catalyst for many of the breaking points of the movie. While Tony does help Shirley out of his first jam as any bodyguard would, it is ultimately Shirley who gets them out of jail via connections he has with the Attorney General.
One of this biggest conflicts Don Shirley has to deal with is not fitting anywhere in the world. His wealth, and affluence make it very difficult for him to connect to his own. His skin color obviously prevents him from forming genuine friendships with white people. His sexual orientation, which was very taboo in the era of the movie, makes it difficult for him to connect with ANYONE. This is a journey of acceptance of oneself. This entire movie is about Don Shirley willingly facing the very things that make him feel alone in this world.
There are some who are freaking about the infamous fried chicken scene. Yes, it clearly relies on the stereotype that black people like fried chicken, but it has its place. It’s part of a build up that highlights Tony’s blatant ignorance, and Don Shirley’s affluence. Because of his disconnect from other black people, he finds that beneath him in a sort of way.
Again, this isn’t a defense of why this movie deserved to win over Black Panther, because it didn’t. While Green Book is a great story, it’s the type of story that has been told one too many times. This is more of a defense of the movie on its own. On its own merit, it is a good movie with a lot of nuances that people either missed, or blatantly ignored. While I didn’t think it deserved the Oscar for Best Picture, it doesn’t deserve to be dragged through the mud the way it has.
P.S. Melissa McCarthy got robbed. She deserved that Oscar for best lead actress. That will be another rant for another day.
Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90s.