True Black Action Heroes
By Todd A. Smith
The Red Tails movie is not your typical Black period piece. It does not loathe in the self-pity of oppression like The Help, but shows younger audience members that with discipline and hard work, one can turn from victimized to victorious.
As a matter of fact, Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard) chastises “Easy” (Nate Parker) stating his attitude of self-pity is his only problem in life, a statement that could be a microcosm for Black America as a whole.
Director Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails movie is a fictitious account of the heroism of The Tuskegee Airmen, the upper echelon of Black fighter pilots who rose to legendary status for their stellar record escorting White pilots to their destinations during World War II.
In a press stop in Houston, Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding, Jr., made it known to Regal Magazine that the Red Tails movie is indeed a true action film with an ensemble Black cast of talented and educated “brothers.” The movie, Gooding said, is an attempt to inspire young Black children to reach for the stars and achieve excellence in their respective lives.
During the same press stop, Howard stated that Hollywood balked at the idea of an all-Black action film and legendary producer George Lucas had to put up millions of dollars of his own money to make the Red Tails movie a reality.
What was fascinating about the film was not only the remarkable story of the Tuskegee Airmen, but the fact that Gooding (Major Emmanuel Stance) and Howard (whose characters were a representation of Benjamin O. Davis), are not the focal point, but the film is a platform to showcase some of Black Hollywood’s up-and-coming stars.
Parker plays “Easy,” the leader of the regimen who is so determined to succeed in life and in the eyes of his father the judge, that he is driven to the bottle even while flying missions in Europe.
Tristan Wilds plays “Ray Gun,” a 20-year-old Howard University student who is determined to prove he can make it in the military and survive the harshest of circumstances.
R&B singer Ne-Yo brings the comedic element to the film as “Smokey,” who dreads going home to tell his father that the only things he kills in the war are trains and automobiles, because the Tuskegee Airmen are initially forced to the sidelines during major combat.
Cliff “Method Man” Smith plays “Sticks” an airplane mechanic, and shows his growth as a serious actor, no longer just a rapper who occasionally acts.
However, the star of the Red Tails movie is British actor David Oyelowo who plays “Lightning,” the daredevil pilot who constantly puts the lives of his fellow pilots in danger, but is the most courageous and confident of all the Black servicemen. He is also confident with the ladies, and is able to woo the lovely Italian Sofia (Daniela Ruah) proving language is no barrier to love.
Despite “Lightning’s” recklessness, children all over the world are already emulating his aerial tricks, pretending to be the star character while re-enacting scenes from the movie. That fact makes the Red Tails movie an enormous success already, because it is pushing our younger generation to dream and dream big.
The Red Tails movie is an extremely powerful film, with a historic lesson that has not gotten its just-do amongst the great stories of American triumphs. All Americans, not just Black Americans, should encourage their friends, family members, co-workers and church members to view this great piece of American history and give the real life Tuskegee Airmen the Hollywood treatment they so richly deserve.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.
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