Plot-wise, there isn’t a Bluray on my living room bookshelf that couldn’t be complained about by the 2021 woke mob. Bill Maher is correct — they’re almost all offensive by today’s standards. I’ll just put on a blindfold and pick at random…
Here’s one…Howard Hawks‘ Red River (’48)…a racist cattle baron from Texas (John Wayne, who vented his racist views in a 1960s Playboy interview) assembles a team of white cowboys to drive his cattle herd to Missouri, where the cattle will fetch a decent price. White guys and steers, white guys guys and steers…start to finish, no let-up. (And there were definitely Black cowboys in the Old West.) Despite the appalling history of what western white settlers did to Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the natives are depicted as whooping savages looking to kill innocent whites. The one Native American character with dialogue, Chief Yowlachie‘s “Two Jaw Quo”, is described in denigrating terms to Walter Brennan‘s “Groot” character.
Here’s another…Tony Gilroy‘s Michael Clayton (’07) — a seemingly racist New York law firm (not a single prominent POC attorney in sight) is defending a chemical manufacturer called U-North in a multibillion-dollar, six-year-long class action lawsuit, the company having been accused of killing numerous users of a weed killer. George Clooney‘s titular character, an Irish “fixer” with a Black secretary but without Black friends or colleagues (and who regularly plays in a downtown, mostly all-white-guy card game), is told to handle an embarassing episode involving a white colleague, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson)…enough.
One more…Michael Mann‘s Collateral (’04) — In a story that works as an across-the-board metaphor for white exploitation of Black victims, a Los Angeles cab driver of color is more or less forced by a sociopathic (and possibly racist?) white male assassin to passively participate in a series of murders. Worse, the white sociopath shoots an older man of color in a jazz club and thereby traumatizes the cabbie. Still worse, the sociopath charms the cab driver’s mother in a hospital room and thereby creates feelings of rage and resentment in the cabbie. Finally the white sociopath forces the lethargic cab driver to wake up, man up, save the life of a beautiful but vulnerable U.S. attorney who’s taken a shine to the cabbie, and to basically take charge of his life. Basically a film about trauma, terrorism and heartlessness, totally unmitigated by the climactic killing of the white sociopath by the cabbie, and the body of the dead assassin left sitting on a metro car and just making laps around the city, nobody noticing or caring. None of this matters — what matters is that a black cabbie is totally pushed around by a white killer.