“Green Book” Plays Into The Wrong Oscar-Winning Tropes


Courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures

Green Book Theatrical Release Poster

Steve Pineda, Staff Writer

It’s a dark stormy night, a film school graduate reads the ingredients for a “Race-unifying film, fit for an Oscar or two.” It mixes in a white savior, a well-respected black actor, and a screenplay that portrays the accomplishments of a minority but through the eyes of a white man. Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble, out of the cauldron arises “Green Book.”

Following the Oscars on Feb. 24th, Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book”  became a classic example of  “Really? That movie won Best Picture?”, so I decided to watch the film to see if I agree.

The film follows Tony Lip, played by Viggo Mortensen, an Italian bouncer, who is, of course, extremely racist. Mortensen’s character meets Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali,  a prodigal musician who shines and is king in his field but is shifted aside in the film for a comically racist chauffeur.

Here is the first problem with  “Green Book”, it takes a character with potential and shifts him towards the back seat, both literally and figuratively. It focuses on the perspective of Lip (Mortensen) in order to shove an agenda that promotes white people to feel oh-so-good about the progress they’ve made.

Lip’s storyline plays out the comically racist trope to the ground, and ironically is the one to teach Shirley how to “connect back” to his own culture. A white savior teaching a black man how to eat fried chicken, showing a well-known musician who Little Richard is, and telling him he’s not black enough is what makes this movie borderline intolerable.

It is not necessarily bad filmmaking that makes the movie unenjoyable. Farrelly decided to focus on a twisted ideology that rather an interesting set of characters. “BlacKkKlansman”, a good representation of actual racial problems which was nominated for Best Picture and didn’t win while this misrepresented movie got more praise on the film board.

Had these occurrences been true, it would be understandable to showcase them. Shirley’s only living brother revealed  Farrelly fabricated these racial unity events, and even Lip and Shirley’s friendship, Fixating a situation in order to bring out a flawed version of a movie preaching unity was bound to backfire on Farrelly after release.

For readers on the edge of deciding whether to watch “Green Book”, I recommend BlacKkKlansman instead. Sadly, Steve Harvey didn’t misread the winners of this year either.