Friday, February 24, 2012

Denzel Washington: The Only Angry Black Man America Likes

With the box office success of "Safe House," Denzel Washington has cemented his place as the only angry black man America likes.

Just think for a minute how many movies centered around an angry black man violently taking matters into his own hands were actually successful at the box office.  Yeah, not many.

It's about as common as finding someone who actually watches "NCIS" or eats Good & Plenty.

But Washington movies such as "Man on Fire," "American Gangster," and "Training Day" were.  

Mainstream America paid good money to see these films in the theater.  It's not like they just watched them on TV.

Some people might argue that Washington isn't the only black actor that pulls this off because Samuel L. Jackson's whole career is based on being the angry black man, but Jackson doesn't carry movies.  

It's more like there's a movie and it features Jackson. "Shaft" doesn't count because it's based on an existing blaxploitation franchise.

Will Smith makes big movies although he's more of a goofy violent guy that cracks jokes than an angry black man.  He consciously stays away from projects that would portray him as one

Washington's feat is even more impressive when you consider there's still a whole demographic of people that specifically fear a violent angry black man.

What makes Washington so special then?  I'd like to think it's because he's not doing it for you, although it's not.

The key is that America trusts him.   The reason Washington can get away with these roles is that he's built up enough good will in his career that people don't see him as inherently threatening.

Sure Washington is ruthless in a movie, but in real life the public knows he's a good guy so it's okay.

Bottom line,  he's like the Dos Equis character of The Most Interesting Man in the World for the angry black man.

It's not often America watches films with angry black men but when they do, they prefer Denzel Washington.

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