USA Today angered many film fans this week when they referred to The Best Man Holiday as a "race-themed" film, despite its universal story about love and friendship and conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers to stay away from race politics (watch director Malcolm D. Lee explain why in our exclusive interview).
Now, blogger Olivia Cole is putting all the anger into words in an article for the Huffington Post, titled "Why The Best Man Holiday Isn't Race Themed."
"I wasn't even going to blog about The Best Man Holiday," Cole begins. "I was going to go in and watch the glorious reunion of Nia Long, Taye Diggs and company and just enjoy it. But after what USA Today tweeted about the film's success at the box office [being due to its 'race-themes'], I realized I had to."
She continues, "I struggle to see how the film is about race at all. Like its predecessor, Holiday focuses on...the bond of friendship and the tests of its strength. Financial worry. Parenthood. Marriage. Grief. Forgiveness. But what exactly does race have to do with grief aside from the fact that, in this instance, the people struggling with grief are Black?"
"What USA Today's tweet reveals is that white audiences are unable to see Black people as beings separate from their blackness," Cole asserts. "A film's themes do not become about race simply because its cast is not white. Why was I the only white person in the theater for Best Man Holiday today? What is it about a black cast that is off-putting to white audiences?"
She concludes, "We've all had our hearts broken. We've all been in love. We've all had a best friend at some point in their lives. How stunted is your imagination, how crippled is your notion of life, if the people on screen with broken hearts, the people in love, the people mending their friendships, have to look like you in order for you to feel a connection with their humanity?"
USA Today took down the offending tweet and accompanying article and replaced it with a response to the negative backlash the publication received. "We've listened to your comments and thanks for sharing them. Valid points. The original headlines were an attempt to capture that films with Black casts have done exceptionally well at the box office this year. Good intentions here, but unfortunately the story's message didn't translate well in the headline, so editors revised the story."
Read Olivia Cole's full rant here. The Best Man Holiday, which grossed over $30 million in its opening weekend, is in theaters across the country.
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(Photo: Universal Pictures)