Shock Review: ‘American Society of Magical Negroes’ Fails to Deliver Its Satirical Punch!

Analysis of “The American Society of Magical Negroes”

Despite its incendiary title, “The American Society of Magical Negroes”, the premier feature by actor-turned-writer-director Kobi Libii, falls short of being the scathing critique of systemic racism that its name might suggest. Unlike other films like Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You,” Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” or Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled,” which provide a searing and often humorously biting view of the Black experience, Libii’s work lacks their biting impact.

The Story and its Characters

The film’s central theme refers to Black characters in movies who are merely tools to aid the white protagonist in his journey (for example, Michael Clarke Duncan’s character in “The Green Mile”). These “magical” personas are depicted here as part of a clandestine organization who possess superhuman abilities. Their objective is to appease the white majority, not out of agreement with such regressive thinking, but as a survival strategy. Their activities range from indulging mediocrity to resolving marital disputes, all aimed at averting potential violence.

The Setting and Plot

The story revolves around Aren (Justice Smith), a young artist in Los Angeles who displays an apologetic subservience to white people, making himself inconspicuous and never claiming his space. This is what draws the attention of Roger (David Alan Grier), an older member of the Society who resembles Nick Fury, leading him to recruit Aren. The film spends substantial time detailing the operations of this covert organization. Scenes within their headquarters (accessible through a barbershop) bear a resemblance to Hogwarts from the “Harry Potter” series, with walls adorned with pictures of former members and vintage décor that reinforces its status as an age-old institution.

See also  Final Shock in Star Trek Discovery: Unbelievable End After 5 Seasons - Find Out Now!

Interesting Elements and Themes

An ingenious device introduced is the “white tears meter,” a hovering gauge visible to Society members when a white person is experiencing distress. By portraying white people as entities unaware of their privilege and the harm they cause to others, Libii successfully underscores the power dynamics prevalent in everyday life. Through the use of absurdity, he shifts the onus back onto white America.

Character Development and Challenges

Once trained, Aren’s assigned task—supporting a white person—is revealed to him. His assignment is Jason (Drew Tarver), an ordinary man working at a stereotypical tech firm. Their relationship progresses smoothly until Aren’s romantic interest in their colleague Lizzie (An-Li Bogan), who Jason is also attracted to, endangers not just his mission but the entire Society (if one member deviates from the script, they all lose their powers).

Performance and Execution

Smith has a talent for portraying characters filled with anxiety, a trait he effectively portrays in another film, “I Saw the TV Glow,” set to release in May. This timid, simmering characteristic works in several amusing scenarios as Aren grapples with the regulations of his crucial new role. However, Libii relies heavily on dialogue-driven scenes to convey his ideas. While these concepts are relevant, the verbose explanations feel more like excerpts from a lecture forced into an already packed plot.

Critique and Conclusion

Unfortunately, the film’s over-reliance on dialogue undermines both its satirical goal and its romantic comedy subplot. It’s not that the two elements can’t coexist; Libii likely included the latter to allow Aren to transcend stereotypes. However, there’s insufficient time for the romantic subplot to evolve into something more than a schematic afterthought. The movie’s expected resolution, featuring Aren literally taking the stage to express his reality, ultimately dilutes the sociopolitical critique, leading to a disappointingly tame conclusion for a plot that had the potential to be truly explosive.

See also  Shocking Secrets Revealed in 'Wicked Little Letters' - Too Late or Perfect Timing?

Similar posts:

Rate this post

Leave a Comment