The greatest forms of social commentary are satires. Look at how successful South Park has been over the past 17 years; they’ve been able to combine biting social commentary on topical issues with inside jokes and general comedy that appeases to those well-informed with social issues and those that simply like to laugh at fart jokes. Under the guise of “satire,” many forms of art (and media) are able to lampoon and bite touchy subjects that, if handled improperly, could become an issue in itself.
Take, for instance, the handling of racial stereotypes and tropes in film. One of the most common stock characters in Hollywood is the “Magical Negro,” mostly notable in films like The Green Mile (Michael Clarke Duncan’s John Coffey), The Shawshank Redemption (Morgan Freeman’s Red), and so many more. Lately, films portraying black characters have attributed religion to their characters or some type of tragedy. All of this and so much more is addressed in the first teaser trailer in Justin Simien’s satirical film, Dear White People, within its first 40 seconds.
Premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Dear White People focuses on a group of black students in a predominantly white college as they “navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college.” By the looks of this first teaser trailer, they do so in a biting, truthful way that’s just as funny as it is honest. Considering Dear White People writer/director Justin Simien won the US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance, it could be the beginning of a very fruitful career. And hey, any film that (hopefully) calls Tyler Perry out for his terrible blaxploitation films is much needed in Hollywood.
Dear White People will be in theaters on October 17th.