‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’ Coddles White Liberals – Review

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What easily could have been the greatest satire since ‘Blazing Saddles‘, ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ Gives White Liberalism a Safe Space.

The potential shown in the trailers and premise of ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ is lost almost immediately as the film pivots from how the, ‘magical negro’ trope started in film and American literature and turns into a below average rom-com.

David Allen Grier as Roger who mentor’s Aren (Justice Smith) should be far more revered as an actor than his current status in Hollywood. His timing, emotional reach and character development is wonderful. Smith is a fantastic young actor that could easily have a long career. While An-Li Bogan’ Lizzie has some great moments in the rom-com turn during the second and third acts.

The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ started off strong and the notion of making White people comfortable via code switching, using folksy wisdom and turning down the, ‘White Tears‘ meter was humorous. The society’s schools begins as a Howarts type institution, was a brilliant concept. Though I was not keen on male magical figures grabbing other men’s manhood to cure their impotence as a running joke, it was far less obvious to emasculate the performers than putting the Black male actors in a dress like every other film.

The movie takes a major down turn when Aren gets his first assignment propping up Drew Tarver’s Jason character, who had a privileged up bringing, but is shocked as one misstep in his software design ends up alienating the entire nation of Ghana, because the facial recognition does not identify Black people’s faces. This whole moment is what creates the love triangle trope instead.

Jason now has to convince himself that he’s not racist (all though he says some seriously racist things using implied language) while the company’s owner, Mick (Rupert Friend) tries to do damage control in relaunching their social media app to be more, ‘inclusive‘, which is why they need Aren for the presentation.

However, Lizzie, who is ethnically ambiguous, and the lead designer for the relaunch gets looked over in presenting the new and improved version as Mick is more fond of Jason’s complexion which is stated through coded language, which is perfectly acted by Michaela Watkins, who’s character Masterson looks like is about have a nervous breakdown every 15-seconds.

There’s a lot of other lovey-dovey garbage and yet another, ‘An Affair to Remember’ Empire State Building romance trope that has been more times than the, ‘magical negro’ one.

I had no idea who writer/director Kobi Libii was as this is the first of his work that I have seen, but this movie would have been a hell of a lot better if they incorporated more Black people in movies tropes, but in the end no one learns anything, the majority of jokes are stale and what could have been the greatest satire since, ‘Blazing Saddles,’ will be forgotten after its opening weekend.

The true downfall of ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ is the transition from satire to rom-com.

It would be interesting to see earlier drafts of Libii’s scripts and if those tropes were eventually removed to make it more ‘palatable‘ for a general audience. Sadly, no lessons were learned, no morals shared all while coddling White liberalism, allowing them to think, ‘But I’m not like that! I’m an ally!

Why did I pick on White liberalism in this regard? Because we know White conservatism doesn’t care these societal issues. Their interest is financial gain, not social justice.

I will say, the misandry joke at the end revealing what the acronym ‘So Swag‘ stood for was a laugh out loud moment. Unfortunately, amazing acting and a brilliant concept cannot save a poor script.

The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ fails where ‘The Blackening‘ succeeded. If you want to watch a satirical film that shatters Black stereotypes, is hilariously funny and deserves a sequel, the the chose is clear – revisit ‘The Blackening‘.

The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ comes to theaters on Friday, March 15, 2024.

 

3

Summary

Conceptually, ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes‘ is brilliant, the execution however, is a completely different story.

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