In reading through these comments, I've seen tons of people complain about how this movie is thoughtless, the characters are one-dimensional stereotypes, blah blah blah. People, that was exactly the point...to challenge White and Black Americans' perspectives on those very stereotypes! Before you pick a film apart, you have to ask yourself what audience it was directed at. Would you criticize a Disney film for being too childish if it was supposed to be directed at children? Of course not. Therefore, ask yourself what audience White Man's Burden was targeted at. Because of where I grew up, that answer was obvious to me before I even saw the movie.
I'm a White man who grew up in Monterey, California. Central Monterey is middle-to-upper class and is dominantly White and Asian. The southside communities of Pacific Grove, Carmel, and Pebble Beach are very upper class and dominantly White. In the north we have Seaside, which is the lower-income, high-crime area and is dominantly Black and Hispanic. This seems to be pretty typical of the race/class division that plagues America. Note that Monterey is not exactly a major metropolitan area where these neighborhoods are far away from each other. The entire area has a population of maybe 120,000 and stretches only about 12 miles (19 km) from north to south.
By growing up between the downtown area and Seaside, it's been easy for me to see the racial problems in this country from many angles. I can tell you from experience that the most hot-headed, controversial, and hateful examples of racial bigotry and stereotyping in the USA are in the way so many Whites and Blacks view each other.
I have met countless Blacks who think that being born White automatically makes you greedy, naturally oppressive of the poor, and have a genetically-inbred desire to dump on every other race in the world. These Blacks typically think that everyone with white skin owes them something because of the crimes of our ancestors (slavery, lynching, etc.), whether it be walking around giving an apology to every Black we see, expecting a free ride from the government just because they're born with black skin, or just having us generally take whatever they want to dish out and accepting that we "deserve it" because we were born into an "evil race".
On the other side of this coin are the Whites who think that being born Black makes you stupid, lazy, and a natural-born criminal. These Whites can cite the fact that there is a high amount of violent crime committed by Blacks despite making up only 12% of the US population (not thinking about the fact that this is a result of poverty, not skin color), or the high amount of hard drug use in Black society (again, depression due to poverty, not skin color).
White Man's Burden was very obviously aimed at these two particular groups of people. What they both have in common is the belief that certain behavior is naturally part of being born with a particular skin color. By depicting an alternate history with the roles of Blacks and Whites reversed in America, the film shows that lack of knowledge and a tendency towards crime is inspired by growing up in poverty, not by being born with black skin. It also portrayed selfishness, greed, and elitism to be qualities of those who grew up in luxury and wealth rather than being tied to white skin. The point of the film was not to go into painstaking detail about how the roles came to be reversed, where the other races are, or to explore the alternate-reality society on every single level, which would require a mini-series rather than a 90-minute film. The point was to shake up the narrow-minded perspectives of two particularly bigoted groups of Americans, to kick them in the butt and make them consider that skin color isn't a factor in who you are. Whatever else you want to say about the movie's performances or characterizations, it did its' job perfectly.
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