So I go to see Iron Man 3 and there are a bunch of action movie trailers before the movie starts. Including this one for White House Down. I want to say something serious about it.
Hang on a second before you watch that trailer. I'd already seen an earlier trailer, cut rather differently, playing up the classic Bruckheimer stuff: explosions, crowds of people running, explosions, the US military's expensive toys, explosions, famous landmarks, and explosions. Since Independence Day opened big on the strength of an effects shot of aliens blowing up the White House, here we get the White House and the Capitol Building on fire. Jerry Bruckheimer and Roland Emmerich sure know how to hook a certain deep part of the American id.
The newer trailer, which I posted above, is more character-driven. We meet Channing Tatum as the big dumb lunk who's going to have to save the day, a failure who will be redeemed by his standing up as a hero when his moment comes. Add some rifles and terrorists and running around in corridors and our hero wearing an A-Shirt with a few scratches on his face and we've got the Die Hard formula: it's Die Hard in the White House, a perfect set-up for a big dumb action movie.
And then we meet his co-star, Jamie Foxx, who will be his action-comedy buddy, a reluctant hero who has to overcome his discomfort with violence to pick up a gun and save the day. Check them out. Does Foxx look like a dapper badass or what?
Foxx is the brains of this team, right? Of course, because This Is America, that just means that he has a lot to learn from the big dumb lunk. Still, remember that back when Emmerich did this in Independence Day, to have Will Smith as the hero we needed to give him a Jewish sidekick to figure out the brainy stuff, because racism with racism sauce. So this is progress, sort of.
Foxx is the smart one in a nice suit because he's playing the President of the United States, following in the footsteps of Action Hero President Harrison Ford from Air Force One. Because Obama. Now I don't want to be one of those White guys who's all now that Obama is President racism in America is totally solved because obviously not. But. Something's happening here.
And I cannot help but notice that the image of a black guy in a suit running around the White House with a gun ... because he's Action Hero President ... is quoting one of the most powerful propaganda images of the 20th century.
What do you want to bet that there's a shot in this movie which mirrors that photo exactly?
We've gone from that image signifying Malcolm X deliberately evoking White fears of Black political violence to it signifying that we need a heroic Black leader with a gun to save America.
God bless America.