The success of the new film Red Tails is undeniable. Despite tepid (at best) reviews, the film finished a strong second at 19.1 million in its opening weekend. Theatres were sold out of every show and the internet was abuzz with chatter about why the black community had to go out and support this film. Most of this support, was fueled by George Lucas’ appearances in various media outlets urging black audiences to support the film to combat the racist underpinnings in Hollywood. Lucas suggested that by driving up box office sales for Red Tails the black community would send a resounding message to Hollywood that we wanted to see more black films on the big screen.
George Lucas who was reported to have invested 50+million of his own money in producing the film, claimed that for 20 years, he faced rejection from Hollywood studio execs that did not believe a big-budget film featuring a black cast would be commercially successful. Despite obvious truths in regards to the marginalization of black films, in my humble opinion, this was a clever and clearly effective marketing strategy that was overwhelmingly successful.
By galvanizing black audiences through tapping into the obvious frustrations at the lack of diversity in Hollywood, he created a wave- no a tsunami of support ensuring that the film, which the San Francisco Chronicle says “…Tuskegee Airmen deserve better”, be successful at the box office. Lucas made the black community believe that supporting “Red Tails” was in the best interest of the black community without providing tangible examples as to how. I believe that in all fairness and in an effort to avoid the dangers and exploitive potentials of this marketing strategy, that demands should be made of George Lucas to reciprocate the support afforded him, by reinvesting in programs that nurture aspiring and emerging African American filmmakers.
As such, I have created a petition which demands that fifteen percent of proceeds from box office sales be donated to HBCU’s which offer radio/film/television studies as a way of providing the type of resources and support the black community needs to see more Blacks competing with and within Hollywood.
Please support Red Tails if you choose, and in doing so ask that the black community be supported in return.