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Thandie Newton Goes On A “Retreat” (The Extinction Of Black Couples In Movies)

17187Damn… black couples are apparently an endangered species on movie screens, especially when it comes to higher-budgeted movies.

I’m probably not so far off track when I say that, in recent cinema history, there are probably more mainstream movies that feature interracial couples (as in black & white), than there are that feature all-black couples – whether romcoms, dramas, or action/thrillers like the one below. The trend nowadays seems to lean more toward black female/white male pairings, than black male/white female couplings. Of course, white men still aren’t too keen on seeing black men shack up with “their” women on screen, but will obviously, readily produce films in which they pair themselves up with black women. White women are “the protected.”

And when black men are paired with white women, even in supposed romantic settings, the men are severely limited in how sexually expressive they can be; sex scenes comprise of hugs and pecks on the lips, or cutaways. Whereas, in films in which black women are coupled up with white men, the sex scenes can often be quite explicit.

Halle Berry in several movies she’s been in; Sanaa Lathan, twice that I’m aware of; Kerry Washington also at least twice; Thandie Newton, and others. I’m not “blaming” them by the way, nor do I discourage them either; and I’m not one of those interracial relationship-phobes; sistahs have to work, right? I’m just lamenting an industry practice that’s as old as cinema. So, I’m not necessarily saying anything new. Long-time readers of this blog will recall that we’ve previously discussed this matter, and quite extensively too.

But this does grate on one’s nerves once in awhile. And don’t give me any of that post-racial nonsense. I’m just hoping for some balance on screen – balance as in black men and black women paired up in a myriad of situations.

We can diss Tyler Perry all we want, but, at least, brothaman always features black couples in love (or lust) in his movies.

Per Screen Daily: Thandie Newton, Jason Isaacs and David Tennant are attached to star in Magnet Films’ psychological thriller Retreat.

The film, to be directed by newcomer Carl Tibbetts, follows a couple (played by Newton and Isaacs) who are seeking to rebuild their relationship by taking time out on a remote island but their peace is shattered when they find a man in military uniform (Tennant) half-dead on their doorstep who tells them there is a lethal virus killing millions on the mainland.

Shooting is due to begin in May in Canada.

12 comments to Thandie Newton Goes On A “Retreat” (The Extinction Of Black Couples In Movies)

  • I was listening to a podcast talking about race in Hollywood movies ( they called it “race bending” since they were discussing “The Last Airbender”) and there was a good point made about Hollywood tending to have white males as the lead because they see having non-white males as leads as a risk, and they don’t want anything to upset their bank.

    I don’t care about what actress plays opposite an actor. I don’t have a great need to see a black/black couple in my fiction. it does bug me that Hollywood does not feel like it’s worth it to put people of other races in the spotlight, period.

    I feel they are also afraid to put a black man in a lead role with a white woman as his wife, but the reverse is more comfortable.

  • Blutopaz

    Henry Louis Gates interviewed a white male filmmaker about this very topic, in America Beyond the Color Line for the Black Hollywood section. I really wish i could rememeber the guys’s name but he was some eldery European, and Gates asked him if Hollywood is interested in seeing 2 Black people in love on screen. He said ‘Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, no one wants to see that-but Halle and (he named some White actor)-now THAT’S exciting!!”. His candor was remarkable.

    But i notice this with all POC in entertainment; Whites love to pair off a particularly attractive Black/Asian/Latin male or female with plain oridinary White actors. And as you noted, it’s usually the male non-White who saves the White female protagonist and the non-White female ends up getting pounded by some White man. Besides Monster’s Ball, the other 2 films that come to mind for this is August with Josh Hartnett and Naomie Harris, and i think Nia Long got busy with that little White guy in Boiler Room. The only reverse i can think of is The Lover-gorgeous Chinese man in love/lust with a slovenly White girl who openly makes racist comments to him, but he did not care, he was IN LOVE-ugh.

  • NothingButAMan

    Commercial viability is the reality we must contend with. For a big budget project, there needs to be a ***reason*** for “mainstream” audiences to invest in a black love narrative. Now that we have Barack & Michelle as a highly visible power couple, perhaps more white people would be sensitive to that type of pairing, perhaps not.

  • It’s about sexual access, the quickest way to piss off a white person is to deny them access to the bodies of people of color. Doesnt mean they love you, respect you, or are racially progressive. It means that their station in society do to their skin color gives them the right to the bodies of black people. It is why they show little interest in black couples on the big screen and in some instances are openly hostile to it. They dont like to be cut out of the picture.

  • Sergio

    @Blutopaz
    I remember that show. The guy was producer (and major big time Isreali arms dealer…no joke where do you think he gets his money????) Arnon Milchan who owns Regency Films and who has produced a ton of big budget Hollywood movies like those Alvin and Chipmunks movies and oh yeah those Big Momma’s House movies. In fact the fiirst film he financed was an all black British film Black Joy

  • Another point that was made in the podcast I was listening to is that if that James Cameron did something else revolutionary besides this new 3d in Avatar, Hollywood would be all over that. If Avatar was all- black cast, you’d be having all-black scripts being mentioned every day.

  • Blutopaz

    Thanks for that info Sergio. I have mentioned that interview re: this topic online before and folks always think i made it up-lol. I don’t know why i thought he was European.

    It’s interesting that chipmunks on helium/Black man in gross fat lady suit are more entertaining to this dude than Black man & woman just having romantic screen time together, with no Whites involved. ita with Cinmike, it goes beyond just being marketable with crossover appeal. I read an interview with Lonette Mckee eons ago where she talked about shooting the Cotton Club. She was in an office with one of the White suits of the film, and they had one of the producers on speaker phone. He was upset about all the scenes with Lonette and Gregory Hines, and he said ‘this ain’t supposed to be some gdamn nigger movie!’-of course he didn’t know Lonette was in the room but i doubt it would have made any difference.

  • I like seeing black actresses with white love interests (as well as other ethnicities). I get excited when I see interracial couples onscreen. But with that said, I also enjoy seeing black couples positively portrayed too. I’m glad that Thandie Newton is getting cast in starring roles. That’s the best part.

  • biwtican

    what is missing in these comments is concern for the next generation. what effect do these screen images have on the young people growing up? what effect do these confusing movie images have on young black men and women growing up trying to establish self esteem? these confused movie images may be contributing to destroying the healthy concept of the normal black family in the minds of young black men and women growing up.