Movie's where white actors aren't the leads, that aren't "about race".

How often is a script written that could, in this day, be about a person of any color? Is it always necessary to shoe-horn in some sort of “reminder” that we are watching characters that aren’t white?

I don’t mean to be sarcastic. I just wonder if there’s a reason for this.

Is there little faith that white audiences, (which is a big chunk of people,) wont see a movie that has characters that don’t look like them? I think of some of my favorite movies, and wonder if they wouldn’t be just as good with a black lead. Movies that AREN’T at all about race.

The latest Star Wars new characters - the only “white male” was Adam Driver. (Oscar Issac is Latino)

Will Smith has had a number of fairly color blind roles that could have been played by white people (Indepence Day for example).

Are you talking casts that are all black? Or just have black people in them? Or movies that you could sub a black dude in and it wouldn’t change?

Technically any movie not about race could have all black people in the credits and it wouldn’t make a difference, but if you’re saying “name an all black movie not about race” that’s an entirely different question…altogether.

Would “The Wiz” count? It’s a remake of a “white” movie so it’s not really “original” but it’s all black and not about race

What does it mean for a movie to not be about race? Does it mean it has to function within white American culture?

I’m not saying the question is wrong, but I think that often we assume that movies about white people aren’t about race because white is the default, white culture is the default. It’s like how some years ago someone on the board thought the midwestern accent was the truest version of unaccented English, because she’d so completely bought into the default of midwestern English the media provides.

In the US, being white is the default, and it’s pretty easy for white folk like me to get through the day without being reminded of our race. I think it’s harder for nonwhite people in the US; race is more often part of their daily conversation and experience.

I recently watched Dope, about some geeky teenagers and their cool science project. Race figured prominently in the movie–they were criticized for being into white shit, they talked about how they couldn’t safely turn to the police for help with their problem, etc. But the movie wasn’t all about race; it was a teen comedy with elements of other genres in it, and balls out fun.

If you want movies in which nonwhite actors don’t spend much time talking about race, how about looking to movies made in countries where the majority is nonwhite? Movies coming from China, India, and Japan often fit your criteria. Nine Queens, an excellent Argentinian con movie, didn’t really talk about race IIRC. My impression is because when your race is the majority, it’s easier to get through the day without thinking about your race.

Hell, there’s little faith that a white audience won’t see a movie that stars old white people, and little faith that young white men won’t see a movie that stars young white women.

Yes… These are the types of examples I’m looking for… I was going to IMDB to find some movies to list that I thought would illustrate my point… but posted it early by mistake.

I loved ‘Eternal Sushine’ for example… my favorite movie. Could it be about a black couple? Why not?

I know Morphious was black, but I just wonder if Neo were black instead.

A little bit of this is me thinking out loud.

Most movies could be cast with people of any color, with the exception of historical movies about certain specific people. And even then, if a movie is about a historic era and is loose with other inaccuracies, they could also be inaccurate and cast some non-white people if they really wanted to.

I’m not completely sure why more non-whites aren’t cast for movies, other than just inertia. There are many instances of movies starring non-white people being big hits, and lots and lots of movies with white people being flops. Things are changing, and people are talking about it and that will help.

Denzel Washington has a … ton. :slight_smile: To name the ones I’ve seen and don’t recall any racial issues: Flight, Unstoppable, Deja Vu, Bone Collector, and Much Ado About Nothing.


I guess I think there are “default” story telling premises, which have long existed, which are barely told with anyone BUT white people in mind. I’m not saying that movies about race shouldn’t exist…

Denzel Washington’s movies came to mind for me, too. Most of them could have starred any of his contemporaries (Tom Hanks; Kevin Costner; Mel Gibson etc.) with no changes in the screenplays at all.

Of course Eternal Sunshine could be made about a black couple. You could take almost any Jim Carrey movie and put in a black actor instead and it good, maybe with the exception of Man on the Moon or The Majestic.

Almost any movie could be cast with non-white people instead of white people, but just when studios think of protagonists of movies, straight white male is the default that they think of, and that’s who they make the character to be.

Also… Thanks Left Hand of Dorkness for the examples you gave.

IMDb says Will Smith was approached to play Neo and passed on the role.

There was that one Tyler Perry movie with Kathy Bates in it…

There are a ton of movies with predominately black casts that only have supporting white characters, that aren’t about “race”–whatever that means. Some examples off the top of my head:

“Beauty Shop”
“Set It Off”
“Straight Outta Compton”
“Lean On Me”
“The Color Purple”

What do you mean “about race”? People often see a movie with an all-black cast and assume that it’s a “black movie” about “black themes”. While eagerly watching an all-white movie and it’s so-called “universal” themes.

I watch movies of all “hues”. The reason I do this is because if I only stuck with “black movies”, I would have slim pickings. When white people become a numerical minority, they won’t have a choice but to watch movies starring people of color. But now and iinto the foreseeable future, they are in the privileged position of having lots of choices.

I guess I mean, no mention of race. Roles that are interchangeable with no reference to the color of the lead’s skin.

Man on Fire

Oldboy is not about race, but I imagine you are not talking about foreign films. :slight_smile:

The Karate Kid(new one) is also not about race and stars a non-white cast.

It could be argued that Blade is about race since Blade was very famously an earlier black superhero, but I doubt anyone thinks about race while watching Blade or Blade 2. No one should be watching Blade 3. :slight_smile:

The nearly all-Black remake of Death at a Funeral was probably not about race. I only saw the British one, though. I thought they kept the script pretty similar, though.

How about “Drumline”?

What about this very good film: Eve’s Bayou. It’s “black” in that all the principle cast are black and it’s set in Louisiana, but the story is about a little girl discovering that her doctor father is a philanderer, which leads to a tragedy.

At the end after the tragedy occurs, a white sheriff is present–about the only white man in the cast. The first time I saw this, I remember thinking that if this were any other movie set in the deep South, this guy would be prominent as a stereotyped redneck hick harassing innocent people. Here, he’s just a component in the aftermath of what happened to this one family.

I think to a lot of white people, any movie with more than 1 black person is a “black movie.” I don’t think that way, but that has been my observation.

I wonder if Denzel has just done so many movies and has become so universally loved that no one thinks of “race” movies… because MANY of his better known roles were definitely about race or portraying figures whose lives were defined by racial struggles.

Malcolm X (something to do with race I think)

I think a LOT of people think EVERY Spike Lee joint is about race, and Denzel did some.
See: Mo Betta Blues, He Got Game

The Hurricane (race and racial discrimination central to story and of course real life character)
See also: The Great Debaters
Devil in Blue Dress (race central to character and plot)
Remember The Titans (school integration, new black leader )
Glory (black soldier)
The Preacher’s Wife (all-black cast, marketed to black audiences)
Also see: Antwon Fisher
American Gangster (Russell Crowe and black gangsters)

Maybe some lesser known/remembered but early career-building roles like:

Mississippi Masala (Black and Indian interracial romance issues, taking place in the US)
Cry Freedom (Steve Biko)
A Soldier’s Story (black soldier)

Including TV series and performances, Denzel Washington has just over 50 credits on IMDB, a HUGE chunk of them were biographies of historical black figures whose race featured prominently in the story, and many of the others were fictional characters in films whose 1 sentence plot synopsis included “a black man” or “African American” and/or were with majority black casts for “black” directors.