“Brace yourself, America. DreamWorks Animation Studios has announced the addition of a black female heroine (gasp!) to its repertoire of white dogs, green ogres, snails, Neanderthals, pandas, white people and Antz. In doing so, it joins an elite club consisting of … well, nobody. Not one major Hollywood studio has released a 3D animated feature starring a black character.”
Can you believe it? I had to wait 25 years to finally see a 3D animated film starring a black woman! The new film is called Home and follows the lead character named Tip who “befriends a fugitive alien whose people have taken over Earth and relocated all the humans. In classic Defiant Ones-fashion, the pair must overcome their differences to save themselves and reconcile their people.”
FINALLY. Now little black girls don’t have to labor so hard just to watch a kid-flick. While we are all celebrating, many of us are also asking why it has taken Hollywood so long to finally do this? Rihanna will be the voice of Tip and Steven Martin and Jim Parsons from Big Bang Theory will also have their voices featured in the project.
I think it’s about damn time that Hollywood starts creating some entertainment for kids of color. I just had this conversation with my fiancé the other day. He is a white man and whenever we watch child-hood movies, almost every lead character is a white boy and I think of how unfair it is that he can imagine himself in these positions while I can’t. In Hollywood, white boys get the privilege of exploring the world, being creative, and coming up with complex solutions to help problems. Girls [usually white girls] are cast as the crush or the pretty delicate girl who is the side-kick, and black girls are virtually nonexistent. [Or we play the side-kick to the side-kick].
Though this may seem trivial, I think it prepares children to intimately understand gender roles from a young age. It makes boys more secure with entering the world because entertainment tells them that the world already belongs to them. I have to labor harder just to watch these films because I’m not reflected at all.
While I celebrate Home, I’m also reminded of the vast erasure of people of color in entertainment and how this has to change. It’s not okay that every film centers on white people and their problems. Even films like Hunger Games and Divergent, which stray a bit from the white-male-dominated prototypes, still work within a white-centered paradigm where white women’s hyper-visibility is conflated with progress for ALL minorities. Why is there so much anxiety over casting brown women in lead positions? I’m hoping Tip can disrupt this ridiculous pattern of white domination.