When the teaser dropped for The American Society of Magical Negroes, moviegoers, specifically Black and Brown ones, figured they were getting some melanin-infused wizardry shenanigans on a Harry Potter level. After seeing the first full trailer for the film, they felt as if David Blaine hit them with the ultimate switcheroo.
Black and brown cinephiles were hoping to be amazed before hitting play on The American Society of Magical Negroes first trailer, and after watching it, they were highly disappointed.
Is there still magic in the film? Yes, but it’s not being utilized in the way many wanted.
In the trailer, we are quickly introduced to Aren (Justice Smith) as we hear David Alan Grier’s voice speak and hilariously point out that watching the awkward Aren navigate a room full of white people is the “most painful thing” he has ever seen.
Grier’s character then offers Aren a job opportunity. It takes him to a barbershop that is hilariously a front for a secret society of “Magic Negroes” whose sole purpose is to keep Caucasians from “feeling uncomfortable.”
As Grier’s characters explain to Aren, uncomfortable white folks are the most dangerous animals on the planet (no lies detected). If they feel uncomfortable, it can be bad, especially for Black people.
On his first mission, things start well for Aren as he works to make Jason feel happy, but Aren gets googly eyes for a white woman that Jason likes, and this forbidden love could make everyone’s magic fail.
Black X Users Were Let Down
Immediately after watching the trailer, Black users on X, formerly Twitter, expressed their disappointment with the film’s premise.
“This is uninspired, unimaginative, and boring within a POST – GET OUT (Jordan peele) and Post – Black Panther (Ryan Coogler) industry. I love and adore the actor Justice Smith though! . My critique is on the director/writers. The American society of magical negros is not giving!” one X user wrote.
Another X user added, “so the american society of magical negros is all about black people going undercover to make yt people comfortable? and then he fumbles it all for the yt girl in the end? WHOS idea was this????”
Is The Film Being Unfairly Critiqued Just Based On A Trailer?
The film is the brainchild of director Kobi Libii and his debut film, so he is already shaking things up out of the gate. In an exclusive interview with BET.com, Libii explained his disdain for the “magical, mystical negro” phrase that legendary filmmaker Spike Lee coined back in 2001.
The “magical, mystical negro” trope in films is described as the Black character whose sole purpose is to enrich the lives of white people.
In the interview, Libii explained the premise of his satirical film, telling the website:
It all sort of starts with the Magical Negro trope. I’m sure you’re familiar with it, but just to define it on my own terms, I think of the Magical Negro as a kind of stock Black character; a Black best friend character who is only focused on helping the white hero. T
hey don’t really have an inner life, and they don’t have their own things going on. They’re just relentlessly focused on helping this white character grow in most cases, and I always thought that was so funny. For whatever reason, the idea that there’s a white writer who pictures the thing we do in the morning is getting up and trying to help them. I found it so absurd and incorrect and funny that I wanted to blow it out and criticize it, but also use it as a way to talk about other stuff. What it’s like to grow up as a Black person in this culture and some of the wild and fantastical things we have to do to survive. To me, that’s the origin story of the film.
We will reserve judgment until the film arrives. You can see more reactions in the gallery below.
Photo: Focus Features / The American Society of Magical Negroes
2. Fair point
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