Every award season there is at least one film that deals with a 1960s relationship between a white person and a black person, in which the white person magically ends up saving their new black friend. These films usually make a lot of money and win a lot of awards. They also piss a lot of people off and for good reason.
“Green Book” staring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali as the respective white and black characters is not necessarily one of those films. It’s the story of real life African American pianist Don Shirley as he embarks on a tour across the Deep South and the white Italian man, Tony Vallelonga, who he hires to drive him on the tour. Tony starts off as a rough guy from the Bronx but of course through many ups and downs with the very educated and cultured Don he learns great lessons about race and the human condition. When the credits roll we learn that the two men stayed friends until their deaths.
OK, maybe it is one of those movies.
“Green Book” has gotten the usual controversy that comes with these sort of films. The National Board of Review named it the year’s best film, but there’s also been a dozen think pieces on it’s whitewashing just this week alone. Don Shirley’s family released a statement saying the film was just Hollywood’s way of using a black man’s story to make money. Viggo Mortensen then made headlines when he used the “N” word at a press conference. Some have commented that his remarks have ruined his Oscar chances before they’ve really begun. Continue reading