WHITE MANS BURDEN
Nevertheless, White Man's Burden offers a potent and effective exploration of its theme. The films intent is to highlight contemporary race issues by reversing their social positions. Here director/screenwriter Desmond Nakano creates some undeniably effective images. There is a fine montage sequence at the beginning with John Travolta driving through the rich upper-class Black neighbourhood seeing Blacks cleaning expensive sports cars, walking dalmatians and then by pointed contrast returning to his own poor White neighbourhood with rampant street crime, Black officers routinely hassling Whites on the street and then sitting down to watch tv in his own home, which is dominated by tv gameshows with all-Black participants and Black takes on Charlies Angels (1977-81). Once the main story sets in, there are a number of strong contrasts in the scenes between John Travolta and Harry Belafonte particularly good is a scene with Travolta giving his son the money to buy a doll for his birthday and his agony at his sons wanting to buy the Black superhero doll rather than the White one and his grudging lowering of his dignity in order to take the money Belafonte offers to pay for it.
Perhaps the film is a little black-and-white in its contrasts it, for instance, seems to ignore in the real world here that there are equal opportunities programmes, that there are a number of wealthy Black people (names like Ophrah Winfrey, Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby, not to mention a vast number of rappers, are some of the highest paid entertainers in the business) and also a considerable number of poor White people. We see no such corresponding blurring of the dividing lines in the film. Also, John Travoltas attempt to create some sort of working class Black accent for himself goes a little astray. Nevertheless, the films contrasts are strongly made.
White Man's Burden is presented by Quentin Tarantinos A Band Apart production company, although Tarantino, with a lack of ego remarkable in Hollywood, deigns to take any Executive Producer credit.
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