Just watched “The Butler” and thoroughly enjoyed the film. Although the script was a bit like Forrest Gump (not in a good way) in it’s attempt to navigate the movement of the Civil Rights era through the fictional son Louis Gaines, in parallel to the time Cecil Gaines was in servitude at the White House. While that comparison is not very believable, the film is a fine representation of what I want to see in it’s depiction of the Black American. While some people knock the film for being a bit to simple and having a poor script, I think that those who don’t appreciate the film as a representation of the loyalty and sacrifice that Blacks have made to America are missing the point.
There aren’t many films with majority Black casts that allow for a different depiction of Black America. That makes this work important. When you have a film that is supported by everyone and reaches beyond the boundaries of Black America and it does so without denigrating or disrespecting the culture, that film deserves attention.
In graduate school I was told that a writer has to separate himself from the narrative. I responded to my adviser/mentor that it’s impossible for me to distance myself from the work. I feel that it is impossible for me to distance myself from the craft of this film because it gives me a little history, no matter how embellished and awkward the screenplay is; and I need that. Happy MLK Day.