Saturday, February 05, 2011

Magical Negro

I proofed and input Magistrale's Hollywood's Stephen King, and I read, proofed, and input The Films of Stephen King. I had a vested interest, obviously, and I have much, much more to say on the subject of the author, should I ever feel to do so. But because The Green Mile just happened to be playing on Bravo tonight, I felt the desire to talk about that instead.

O magical negro. I did NOT come up with that moniker by the way. If it makes you feel more comfortable, Magical African American. Nevertheless, much has been written on King's interest in it on purpose? Or just a by-product of White Man's Guilt? I love SK, but I vote for the latter. No writer in is right mind would play that card so often so purposefully. I believe he was acting on the white man's guilt.

Gosh, how many can we cite? The most obvious? Mother Abigail from The Stand. After that, Michael Hanlon from It (he suffered the burden of remembering, Mr. King, don't even play), Hallorann from The Shining (magical with "the shining" and burdened with saving the white folks), and of course John Coffey of The Green Mile. However, I am not so much interested in indicting Mr. King in his use (overuse?) of the magical negro.

After seeing The Green Mile ONCE, ever, and crying my stupid eyes out over it, I do wonder one thing: Would we not cry as much over the magical white man? Do we care because John Coffey is black? Somewhat simple? All of these things? Were he a simple a white man, wouldn't we suffer the same? I don't know. But as I suffered through the (severely edited, yet vividly remembered) ending of The Green Mile, it did make me wonder.

Perhaps it is just a piece of manipulative tripe goading its audience to feel far too much because the protagonist is magical, miraculous, simple...and black. But GOD, don't I wish that we would fee the same no matter the race.

I forgive Mr. King for his shortcomings (perceived or charged) because I think he tells the stories as he lives it in his times. You can eviscerate him for glorifying (with all white guilt) the "magical negro" but he is no more guilty than other writers under the crossfire for writing in their times, like Twain, for example, and many more. I think instead of obsessing over his shortcomings (hello, all the years of idiot women characters!) it would be better to talk about what these culturally "questionable" characters mean to us now.


Post a Comment

<< Home