Black Anxiety Theater

It has been written that science fiction as a genre reflects our dreams but also our anxieties about current technological trends. Space and aliens gave way to computers and robots run amok. This reflection can be found elsewhere. A trend in films directed at black audiences is the thriller with a white home invader or kidnapper as the antagonist. This trend plays to middle class black anxiety in a socioeconomic situation where they are facing increasing competition that also gets the same diversity points.

This is not a one off. You may have seen ads recently for The Intruder, which is a thriller where cute black actress Megan Good in a lavish home is terrorized by former owner Dennis Quaid. This is similar to Gabrielle Union’s Breaking In, where a black woman goes to her deceased father’s retreat to deal with a group of white invaders who want money he left behind and take her kids in the process. This was Gabrielle Union second child snatched by whites movie after her role in Sleepless. Don’t confuse Sleepless with Kidnap, which starred Halle Berry as a mom chasing after white kidnappers who took her child. I am missing a couple more involving drug dealing white gangs terrorizing a black couple and whatnot. The best on of all of these is Get Out, garnering an Oscar for a screenplay about a white community killing young black men to become them.

It is all tiresome and comical to see this onscreen. Blacks are victimized by other blacks as non-black on black crime is incredibly low. From a socioeconomic perspective, blacks have a steep Gini coefficient and barely enter these upper middle class situations. The key here though is the market. These are not blaxploitation films or Tyler Perry films geared towards a mass black audience. Outside of Get Out, the films listed in the prior paragraph would have killed for Tyler Perry’s numbers. These films are for a higher earning black female centric audience. That audience profile is the key.

The protagonists reflect the viewer and are the aspirational avatar. These are women who made it and living in a white world. The homes shown and vehicles driven are the material goods that a member of the talented tenth or the diversicrat class would own. The anxiety of belonging is still there. The fear that it could all be taken away because they are an outsider. At any given moment, the majority will say, “Enough, you don’t belong, get out”. This is akin to the imposter syndrome where an individual has a fear of being exposed as a fraud as if they do not belong there or their achievements are not real. The insecurity and anxiety they feel can be expressed in a thriller with the antagonist shown as malicious and evil yet defeated in the end. No worries, viewer, you belong and earned it.

The kidnapping is separate and non-sense considering the sky-high rates of child abandonment in the black community and the herculean effort that goes into getting blacks adopted. That is a clue though as there have been essays written by righteously upset black women about the white families with their adopted black or adopted African child at a park. Harrumph writes the black women despite not adopting the child despite given the same opportunity. Black women see these adopted kids, who are rent-a-kids, and knows that there will be something lost in cultural transmission. Despite saving the kid from a foster home existence or worse, these adopted parents become equated with kidnappers simple because of a lack of melanin.

The most neurotic of the films and best window into this phenomenon may be Get Out. That film became a smash hit for what reason? In retrospect, it seems the system wanted to Make Jordan Peele a star to use him elsewhere as it has since the film’s release. The film defines him. Stripped down to its core its a movie about a black guy who dates a white woman whose family is part of an anti-black cult of sorts. The film was written and directed by a half-white/half black man who is married to a white woman. Is his film nothing but the product of his anxieties about his own life? All of his life does he walk around his most intimate companions and wonder, “when are they going to kill me for not belonging”?

This is ultimately their projection as openness to others is a w.e.i.r.d phenomenon. Blacks would not welcome an outsider of obvious features to enjoy a space that they would define as their own. This is an undeniable fact as there is no well to do black community in America others would want to move to, but this tribalism does not stop them from making their slums no-go zones for everyone else.

As their crime rates continue at elevated levels, these small Hollywood products will keep the upwardly mobile parts of their community thrilled with nice story arcs completely at odds with reality. Demographic power precedes political power. The real anxiety and creeping realization that these middle and upper middle class black viewers are coming to grips with is that they are no longer the junior partner in the left’s coalition, will see their government sinecure positions chipped away by others, and will not inherit anything unless they learn to speak Spanish.

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