Dear White People Blu-ray Review
I was a white boy on a state university campus; Quite the opposite of the lead in DEAR WHITE PEOPLE. So maybe I’m not quite the target audience that can fully absorb the wide swathe of anger and satire this movie bestows. But I’m not a fool. Justin Simien initially presents an idea that attacks the racial tensions on America’s college campuses, but it slowly evolves into a movie that focuses on finding identity, which is ultimately more important than how we divide ourselves.
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE focuses its mocking lenses on the fictional Winchester University. It’s a predominantly white Ivy League school where the campus is divided by race, more so than just typical friend cliques. The unspoken leader of the black student union is Sam White (Thompson), who hosts a radio show called “Dear White People” where she lobs verbal hand grenades that pick apart racial awkwardness or lampoon the actions of white people. One nugget of hers is, “Dear white people. Dating a black person to piss off your parents is a form of racism.”
As long as you understand satire, you shouldn’t be too offended and as long as you’re not taking it too seriously, you won’t be too politically upset either. But what makes White a sympathetic villain is that she puts forth a feminist Black Panther front while still harboring some multicultural interests. She’s ashamed of those interests because she’s deemed them as cherished bits of Caucasian pop-culture. Outside of that silly shame, she seems sheepish about a relationship that she’s having with a fellow white student. Not a bad relationship either, a very loving one. You could say that she’s a villain because in one hand, she creates a racial divide, and in the other is reluctant to show her true colors.
It’s not her radio show that specifically raises hell, but her new role of power as President of the predominantly black dorm on campus. She pits white against black and sets forth a series of events that eventually leads to a party at the big elitist white dorm on campus where patrons don their best racial stereotypes. Leading up to that party though is plenty of witty conversations, tongue in cheek humor and some engaging characters.
There’s the young black man, Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), who’s the son of Winchester’s Dean that allows us a couple of moments into the life of the Dean and how he handles the growing segregation amongst students. Documenting everything from a very neutral perspective and probably the only black person seen in the presence of the white antagonists is Lionel Higgins (Williams). His presence is a bit undisclosed until the third act, but he also seems to eavesdrop on key plot points. There are other characters of interest, but almost too many to name. A majority are used as scenery chewers or as a breather from of the lengthier, dry bits that lack biting humor.
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE is definitely not for everyone, but for those with a lax perspective and tough outer shell, it’s worth a watch. It’ll be interesting to see how well something like this will age. It definitely has a coming of age vibe and underneath its ethnic driven message; there is a universal truth about individualism. Only time will tell if DEAR WHITE PEOPLE is simply living in the moment of 2010’s American racial tension or has an everlasting message for America’s youth attempting to find themselves in college.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 1:85:1) Comes through crystal clear on this blu-ray
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The sound mixing really shines when alternating between multiple scenes and quick cuts of varying soundtracks and conversations.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Simien, and cast Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Teyonah Parris, and Brandon Bell: A really fun commentary that feels like a couple of old high school friends meeting up again for the first time in years. Offers a little insight, but ultimately it’s listening to people having a good time at the movies.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Simien: Simien states up front that it’s up to you, the viewer, to take what you will from this movie. That might explain the long silences in between his moments of insight.
The Making of Dear White People (20:09): An interesting collection of interviews with everyone involved in the making of this movie. Definitely touches upon the meaning of the script and as well as how Justin Simien fine-tuned everything. It’s a thoroughly entertaining peek behind the scenes.
“Get Your Life” Music Video by Caught a Ghost (5:14): Fairly self-explanatory. If you like grooves from the EBM movement, then you’ll probably enjoy this. Feels more like an advertisement for a band/artist I’ve never heard of.
Deleted Scenes (2:36): With how long this movie already is, I’m surprised they would be worried about snipping out a few minutes. Of course more of these are like alternate scenes and ideas.
Outtakes (5:08): Seems like the idea of having outtakes as a bonus feature would be beneath this movie, but even the most highbrow of comedies probably enjoy a few moments of breaking character.
The More You Know (About Black People) (5:09): They’re still around, but NBC was famous for the “More You Know” PSA’s. This is a tongue in cheek version of those with various people apologizing for or highlighting a stereotype.
Racism Insurance (2:57): Do you know those State Farm commercials where a insurance person pops up on command to help them in a tricky situation? This is the same set-up, but instead of an insurance crisis, it’s a crisis in which a white person does something racist.
DVRSE APP: Black Friends When You Need Them (2:56): This is a fake commercial for a phone app that makes it appear like you have black friends.
Leaked: Banned Winchester U Diversity (2:21): Another fake commercial, but this time for Winchester.
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