There’s no sugar-coated way to say it—Green Book is in deep shit.
The film, based on the (supposed) friendship between Tony “Lip” Vallelonga and acclaimed pianist Dr. Don Shirley, is just what the white “I have black friends” audience ordered to soothe their souls for another year.
Following its Golden Globe wins, many people took to social media to protest its winning streak, as it proved everyone was basically ignoring the fact Shirley’s family completely denounced the film. Awards season is a marketing madhouse for any film and winning awards is the alley-oop to advertising. Nabbing its first major awards of the season, Green Book is flourishing despite major ethical problems surrounding its existence.
One of the standout criticisms of the film was the tired trope of “omg a racist driver is now suddenly less racist because he shared some laughs and fried chicken with a smarty smart black man!” Folks were understandably cynical about the arc. Now, one of the film’s credited screenwriters, Nick Vallelonga, has added fuel to that jaded fire.
In a now-resurfaced tweet from 2015, Vallelonga cosigned then non-president (happier times) Tantrum Traffic Cone’s debunked claim that a group of Muslim people was spotted celebrating in New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001, cheering on the destruction of the Twin Towers.
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Wow. Old tweets coming home to roost, once again. This highly xenophobic one was especially egregious, not to mention that his film’s star, Mahershala Ali, identifies as a man of Muslim faith. Following the reported news, the screenwriter apologized, specifically naming Ali in his statement.
“I want to apologize,” said Vallelonga, per IndieWire. “I spent my life trying to bring this story of overcoming differences and finding common ground to the screen and I am incredibly sorry to everyone associated with Green Book. I especially deeply apologize to the incredibly brilliant and kind Mahershala Ali and all members of the Muslim faith for the hurt I have caused. I am also sorry to my late father who changed so much from Dr. Shirley’s friendship and I promise this lesson is not lost on me. Green Book is a story about love, acceptance and overcoming barriers, and I will do better.”
Following the callouts, Vallelonga deleted his Twitter account.
Bad energy begets bad energy, as another notable news item surfaced about the film’s director, Peter Farrelly, who recently apologized after a 1998 report resurfaced surrounding his genital-flashing colleagues as a “joke.”
“I was an idiot. I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now,” Farrelly told the Hollywood Reporter. “I’m deeply sorry.”
But, wait, there’s even more: The film’s Whitey McWhite Narrator of a Black Man’s Story lead, Viggo Mortensen, came under fire in November when he used the n-word at a Los Angeles screening of the film, Entertainment Weekly reported.
Given the bad juju surrounding it, Green Book is getting burned. We’ll see how the Academy responds.