The white savior complex earns another award at the Oscars

Ashley Mallinson

Every year, tons of people anticipate watching the Oscars and seeing which of their favorite movies get some of the most prestigious awards in the film world. On February 24th, many awards were given to well-deserving (and maybe not so well-deserving) films.

One of the more controversial films that ended up winning was Peter Farrelly’s  “Green Book.” The response to this film taking the top award was overwhelmingly negative, not only by the typical audience (people like you and me), but by many of the esteemed celebrities who were attending the Oscars as well. Most notable was famed director Spike Lee, reacting by throwing his hands up in frustration and attempting to leave the event after “Green Book” was announced as the winner. Many people were upset by this movie being chosen for the top award, as it portrays this “white savior complex” that is often found in movies in Hollywood.

Films like “The Blind Side,” “Freedom Writers,” “The Help”, and many more show this concept of an African-American individual who is undoubtedly great, but just not great enough to reach their potential without the help of a white guy. It’s usually portrayed as this quirky duo who you would never suspect to get along eventually warming up to each other, as the white protagonist takes the spotlight and their African-American counterpart is painted as passive and helpless.

Unfortunately, these films usually end up getting a lot more recognition than those that portray a more accurate representation of how African-American citizens are treated in America, and the dynamics of how our society plays a role in this. Some movies that are far more moving or evocative that I would much rather suggest watching include “BlaKkKlansman,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “Dear White People.” These are just a few examples, among many other great films that touch on this topic.

Overall, the presence of the white savior complex is pretty prevalent in the film industry, and while there may be good intentions in mind, they’re altogether just cheesy, bad movies. There are much better and much more powerful films out there that portray a more heartfelt and honest message and in the future we can only hope that movies like “The Help” and “Green Book” don’t surpass the films that are arguably much more deserving of such high awards.