Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures Zhuoyi Wang published a film review, “Black and White in Green Book,” in a Chinese magazine Phoenix Weekly in May.
The 2018 film Green Book (dir. Peter Farrelly) has achieved great commercial success worldwide, grossed its highest foreign box office revenue in China, and received overwhelmingly positive reviews in the Chinese-speaking world.
According to Wang, however, the film’s feel-good façade of interracial friendship is just a combination of the “Magical Negro” and the “White Savior,” two racial stereotypes frequently employed in Hollywood films. With historical records pertaining to the Negro Motorist Green Book, the Sundown Towns, and the prototypes of the film’s protagonists, Wang informs his readers how the film misrepresents U.S. racial history by concealing structural and institutional violence of racism.
At the same time, Wang also points out that certain criticism emerged in the U.S., such as the dismissal of the film as just “a symphony of lies,” has gone over the top, and that the film was indeed inspired by a truly interracial and inter-class friendship in history. Wang hopes that discussions of Green Book may lead to an in-depth reflection on the development of racial and class dynamics from the film’s set time period to its production time.