Brow Beat

Late Night Is Calling Out White Savior Narratives

Desus and Mero’s new late night series premiered Thursday night on Showtime, and the hosts decided to call out one of the most divisive films this Oscar season: Green Book.

While Green Book has been celebrated since winning Toronto’s audience awards in September, and Mahershala Ali has virtually swept the Supporting Actor category thus far, the film has been repeatedly condemned for its reliance on white savior tropes, and for being a film about race made by white people for white people.

Desus Nice and the Kid Mero ran with those criticisms, parodying the film with a segment called “The Greenest Book,” in which the comedians recreate scenes from the film that is jokingly described as “brave,” “powerful,” and “made me feel great about being white.”

As Desus takes on the role of pianist Don Shirley and Mero that of Shirley’s white driver, Tony Lip, the pair focus on moments when Lip defends his employer, climaxing with a scene in which Mero’s character and a white police officer congratulate each other for solving racism.

Late Night with Seth Meyers also called out the many tired tropes in these films, but writers Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel didn’t stop with one film. Instead, “White Savior: The Movie Trailer” called out a slew of films that have adopted the unrealistic narrative, many of which happen to be based on a true story like Hidden Figures, The Blind Side, and Green Book.

To do this, Meyers decides to simply create a trailer for an entirely new (but not really new) film aptly titled White Savior.

“This spring, see the story of the black woman who became a world renowned scientist, an accomplished cellist, and activist, and a man who was white as she did it,” the trailer begins.

From there, the clip runs through several well-worn instances of the trope, like Meyers punching a racist to defend a black friend and a white woman coming to adopt her.

Three years after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, with narratives like Green Book continuing to be celebrated, it begs the question, how much have things really changed?

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