If you’ve watched the film ‘Dear White People’, you’d agree with the fact that the movie is actually a satire on ethnic identities and relations, set in a fictional Ivy League campus. The protagonist is Samantha White, popularly known as Sam who hosts a radio show in the campus going by the name ‘Dear White People’. She makes all sorts of intentionally provocative and funny statements aimed at highlighting both the overt and subtle ethnic bias, on and off the campus.
Justin Simien, the first-time director of the movie went through quite a process for refining the movie and making it appeal to a larger audience world over. He wanted to test the humor of the film before finalizing its screenplay. So, he actually made a Twitter account with a handle @DearWhitePeople and started sending out tweets both of complementary and critical nature to get immediate feedback. The first one of those tweets was something like, “Dear White People, ‘Single Ladies’ is passe. Let it be” or something like that. This is how he finalized the humor of the film!
Talking about how the movie developed its tone, Justin says that after getting the first African-American president, everyone in the United States thought that we were well past the issues of ethnicity. However, that bubble got burst by things Trayvon Martin tragedy, Birther movement and blackface parties. All these awakened him to the impact that covert ethnic-abuse can have on people. And how comfortable it is for everyone to stick his/her head in the sand about such issues. It unleashed a sort of anger in Justin. He was taken aback by people’s refusal to see or being open about experiences different than what is perceived as ideal. It is at that point he felt that his movie took a highly charged up tone and turned into ‘Dear White People’.
At core, ‘Dear White People’ is a satire which tells the story of a bunch of college students who are facing issues related to ethnicity, parental expectations, sexual orientation and how it feels to be a square peg in a round hole. It is easily one of the best films to have been released in the year 2014 and it very well deserved the Special Jury Prize it received at the Sundance Film Festival 2014.
Honestly speaking, ‘Dear White People’ is by far the smartest movie to have come out in the past couple of years. Although there have been better movies in the past, there aren’t many that make you think like this one. There are not many movies out there which attempt to show the mirror to the society and actually achieve that goal. It not just pulls off that task admirably, but actually means and says a lot about the world we’re living in today.