Why a Black Man Says No to 'The Butler' and '12 Years a Slave'

Arguing that Lee Daniels' The Butler and 12 Years a Slave were created to engender white guilt, black Canadian author Orville Lloyd Douglas says at the Guardian that he won't be seeing the films.

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Forest Whitaker and David Oyelowo in Lee Daniels' The Butler (The Weinstein Co.)

At the Guardian, black Canadian author Orville Lloyd Douglas says he won’t be seeing Lee Daniels' The Butler or 12 Years a Slave because they were created to engender white guilt. Further, the so-called race dramas are unlikely to teach viewers anything new, he writes.

Lee Daniel's new film The Butler is a box office success, already generating Oscar buzz, but I am not interested in seeing it. I'm also skipping British filmmaker Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, another movie about black people dealing with slavery.

I'm convinced these black race films are created for a white, liberal film audience to engender white guilt and make them feel bad about themselves. Regardless of your race, these films are unlikely to teach you anything you don't already know. Frankly, why can't black people get over slavery? Or, at least, why doesn't anyone want to see more contemporary portrayals of black lives?

The narrow range of films about the black life experience being produced by Hollywood is actually dangerous because it limits the imagination, it doesn't allow real progress to take place. Yet, sadly, these roles are some of the only ones open to black talent. People want us to cheer that black actors from The Butler and 12 Years a Slave are likely to be up for best actor and actress awards, yet it feels like a throwback, almost to the Gone with the Wind era.

Read Orville Lloyd Douglas' entire piece at the Guardian.

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