Movie Review: The American Society of Magical Negroes

 I don't remember the last time I did a movie review. DnD, maybe? Either way, I decided to venture out and go see a movie last Friday. My choice was The American Society of Magical Negroes.

At first, like many others, I thought that it was going to be a movie about an actual Potter-esque (wish we had something else to use for a comparison at this point) movie with magical Black people. Then, I saw the trailer, and I remembered what a magical negro is.

For those who don't know, the term "magical negro" means a character in a story that only exists to further along the white main character's narrative. People like Morpheus in The Matrix, John Coffee in The Green Mile, Oda Mae Brown in Ghost, God in Bruce/Evan Almighty. If we're lucky, the characters have backstories and lives of their own. Worst case scenario, they're also the sacrificial negro, like John Coffee, or any Black character who don't make it past the opening credits.

So, I realized, "Oh, it's a satire," and I went in with that expectation.

The main character, Aren, is a tragically apologetic young man who does his best to stay out of the way while also trying to make his yarn art a thing. He ends up following the bartender at the exhibit, where his piece did not get sold, and learns during a situation that would've most certainly ended up with him beaten to death by drunk frat boys, that the bartender has magical powers, which help him to turn the situation around and make the white people docile.

At this point in the movie, I've already resonated with Aren. I say "Sorry" all the time, even when I'm the one getting bumped into, and I'd recently waited at the top of the stairs at work for two white women to come up, and they didn't even stop to offer a smile to acknowledge that I did. The difference is, while I wanted to turn to them and say, "You're welcome!" Aren probably didn't even think about it. He just wanted to be seen as a safe out-of-the-way person. He is also biracial, which comes with its own needs to be accepted.

So, the bartender, Roger, introduces him to this secret society where magical Black people use their gifts to keep white people happy so more Black people don't get killed. Several hilarious references in this first introduction, and if you've seen or read The Green Mile, you'll get one instantly. If you haven't, you'll definitely say, "What the hell?"

Anyway, Aren has this power, and his first case is the classic toxic white man we all know and are forced to tolerate. In many instances, he even says the standard lines: "I was picked because I deserved it," being one of them, when on the back end, we see he was picked because of misogyny. He's not even the most talented person on the team. His coworker, who ends up being Aren's love interest, is.

That's all I'll say about the plot, except for Aren has an amazing speech that I hope helps Justice Smith get a nomination next year.

Now, two takeaways in response to the upset by those who thought we were getting *real* Black magical school people.

1) There weren't enough Black people in the movie. There was an entire society of Black people we saw every two or three scenes. The movie didn't focus on them, but they were there. Bringing me to...

2) Another movie centering white people. Yeah, true, but also, that's quite literally the point of the movie. It put a lens on how Black people have to coddle the white people in this world in order to survive, all while hoping it even works in the first place.

Overall, it was a really good movie. The acting was great, the comedy was spot on, and the message gets received. I highly recommend, especially since it didn't get enough views the first week it came out.

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