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"Lakeview Terrace" Re-Investigated (Race & Power Struggles - What Could Have Been)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
April 13, 2012 11:31 AM
29 Comments
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lakeview terrace

Produced by Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment company, and released in theatres in 2008, I recently watched Lakeview Terrace again, in consideration of some reasearch I've been doing on contemporary films and their handling of interracial couples.

But in watching it, and putting aside what inspired me to watch it again in the first place, I realized that the film actually had the potential to be significantly more valuable than what ended up on screen.

Let me explain...

The premise engages to start with: in its most simplistic form, a young interracial couple (white man/black woman) moves into their first home, right next door to an older black man a (single father) who despises interracial couples.

But it's much more than that! Or at least, it tries to be, and fails.

The screenplay introduces several themes, but, unfortunately, none is really, fully explored. If anything, the original race-based premise as I laid out above takes a back seat to a tale on masculinity, as psychological and physical confrontations between both men (the white husband played by baby-faced Patrick Wilson, and the black neighbor, played by the hard-edged Samuel L Jackson) dominate the film.

It becomes a kind of chess match between the two, with Jackson's Abel Turner having the upper-hand for much of the game; in essence, to put it simpler, we could look at it as a power struggle between a white man and a black man (reflecting everyday realities), with much more than just a house and a woman on the line.

Their entire world, as it exists in the film, and who controls it, is really what's at stake here. And it could be easy to choose sides based on racial solidarity; but Samuel L Jackson's character is so spiteful to the point of being somewhat unrealistic, that the audience really has no choice but to dislike him. There's no subtlety in Abel Turner. He's an asshole, simply put. There are moments when the film seems to want us to try and empathize with him, but it's difficult to, given how much of a disruptive force he really is.

Not that men like him can't exist in real life, but, I think some complexity in his portrayal would have made for a much more intriguing film.

One of those moments I mention was actually a pretty good one, and I think it summed up quite clearly what's at the core of the anger and frustration that impairs a lot of black men in this country. And the film would have been better for it, if the script further expanded on that moment.

In that scene, Jackson's Turner tells Wilson's Chris, the white husband, how much he hates the fact that, as a white man, he can arrogantly have whatever or whomever he wants, without pause, without concern, without having to ask, or worry how he might be received by the rest of the world. And, as Abel sees it, in his emotionally unstable mental state, Chris's marriage to a black woman exemplifies all of that, and he challenges him in ways most of us probably wouldn't so readily consider.

But Abel can do this because (and here's the conceit) he is a police officer. Of course! So, even if Chris toughened up and challenged Abel every step of the way, man-to-man, he'd still likely lose, because he's not just going up against another man (regardless of race), he's going up against a cop - a veteran at that, with many friends on the force. He won't just be going up against a man, he'll be challenging an institution - a very powerful one, that could make his life reasonably uncomfortable.

There's another reason for Abel's madness, which I won't reveal here, for fear of spoiling it for anyone who hasn't seen the film. He clearly feels justified in his actions, and, in that single scene, he tells Chris everything he needs to know. And, as I said, it's actually quite an important, powerful scene; but instead of staying solidly on that course, the film falters - especially in the last act, when it tumbles, and becomes so absurd that whatever connections I'd made with the characters and the story were quickly shattered, and I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

It was a disappointment because, as I said, it had the potential to be so much more. It introduces several topical issues that I'd say really haven't been seriously and comprehensively tackled enough on film (despite attempts here and there) - notably, attitudes towards interracial coupling, specifically within the black community, especially when one half of the pair is a black woman; the so-called shortage of black men, and the plight of the single, black professional woman; the struggle for power and control between black men and white men; an examination of black manhood and black masculinity; psychological illness in the black community; and a bit more.

However, the film never really digs deep enough on any of those issues, instead choosing to hang onto the usual Hollywood story-telling tropes.

But in its defense, if I could come up with one, it actually had me asking myself what I would do, if I were in either situation - specifically, if I were in Chris's position. It could be quite emasculating, if not maddening, feeling so helpless, and not being able to protect your family (specifically your wife), as you've been socialized to believe is your duty as a man in this society we've created for ourselves - as sexist as that might sound. But sexism (and misogyny) is nothing new to Neil LaBute, who directed the film (see In The Company Of Men, his debut).

Kerry Washington is disappointingly more of a prop here, with really nothing to do; although she is present. However, as I already said, the film really becomes centered on this battle between men - one white, the other black; and we could say a battle that mirrors real life struggles.

The ending was inevitable, given the set-up and progression. But it was still laughable unfortunately, and, as already stated, could have been avoided with some tweaking in the screenplay, that would have improved the overall quality of the film.

However, overall, it's not as bad a film as I expected it to be; so maybe I went into it with low expectations, and thus my expectations were indeed met. But, there's clearly a brain behind this one (despite its flaws and lack of ambition), and I'd have liked to see this movie made outside of Hollywood, rated-R, instead of PG13, which was its original rating.

There's a heartbeat here; it just wasn't given, or should I say allowed, the kind of pump it needs to make it much more compelling.

If you saw Lakeview Terrace, your thoughts?

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29 Comments

  • Orville | April 15, 2012 7:44 PMReply

    I don't think Kerry Washington has a white girl persona. Kerry is from an upper middle class family she went to the Spence School in New York City and her parents are educated African Americans.
    Kerry is a beautiful black woman and she happens to prefer white men and that's her choice. I think one of the reasons Kerry gets a lot of grief especially from black heterosexual men is because she's not interested in them.

    I think Kerry Washington is a proud black woman and she is very aware of racism and sexism in Hollywood. Kerry is a university graduate and she's spoken about not wanting to be seen as a stereotypical black woman in the media. Kerry has tried very hard in her career to steer clear of stereotypical roles. Kerry is trying I think in her career to show nuance and vulnerability as a black actress in her roles.

  • Cherish | April 15, 2012 10:48 PM

    Well said.

  • Orville | April 15, 2012 7:30 PMReply

    I agree and disagree with Tambay. I agree that the movie wasn't fleshed out enough I wanted to know more about Patrick Wilson's character his reasons for marrying Lisa. The movie focused a lot on the black side but ignored Chris's family and what they thought of Lisa.

    I agree that Kerry Washington's character was not developed enough in the film she was just kind of there. There was a storyline about her character trying to get pregnant against her white husband's wishes but that wasn't explored.

    I thought Samuel L Jackson is very unattractive and that's probably part of the reason why some people did not have sympathy for his character. He was too old and it did not seem like he was sexually attracted to Kerry's character.

  • CareyCarey | April 15, 2012 11:18 PM

    Orville, your last post had merit but these comments make no sense whatsoever. I believe you've told us your a gay man, so "I sort" of understand your opinion of Samuel Jackson, but his character in this movie had absolutely nothing... notta... no relation to his looks nor his disdain for his neighbors. And again (ONE MORE TIME!), my characteration of Kerry Washington's role had nothing to do with her private life, nor her education.

  • Cherish | April 15, 2012 3:35 PMReply

    What is with people claiming that a movie about a racist Black man hating on wm/bw interracial couple being unrealistic or copout? Are y'all serious? You don't know or have seen Black men (particular older men) hating on BW/WM couples? Please. As for bringing up the KKK's hangings and lynchings - we're talking about power differentials here. But what Abel Turner did to Chris and Kerry Washington's character was classic - he f*cked with them. From ruining their housewarming to shining the bright lights on the bedroom. He wasn't violent, in the beginning. He just f*cked with them. Sometimes it was in that passive-aggressive manner many Black people used day-to-day to cope with White people. But more times than not, Abel f*cked with Chis "in his face" because of his badge. And it was all legal, in the beginning. Man, that movie was hilarious. Too bad it ran off the deep end towards the end. It was great and funny example of a Black man using his position of power within the social and cultural paradigms to try to bring down a White man, to get back at the system.

  • moionfire | April 14, 2012 10:42 PMReply

    I have to agree with the poster that said making the crazed racist a black man was a cop out. The truth is that when it comes to terrorizing black and white couples, it is 9/10 a white man doing it. I think they chose a black female-white male couple because it flipped the usual script. And to be truthful inspite of the content, the movie was funny(sometimes unintentionally) which probably couldn't have happened had it had a black male-white female couple given the seriousness and historical context of such pairing.

    As far as who has it worse--- as a black women, I can't lie and say black female-white males have it worse. For starters white men who are racist care more about black male-white female couples. Rarely do they dedicate time to attacking other white men. They only care about the "purity" of white women. But then again more black men are with white women than black women with white men(a ratio of 2 to 1 ). So that might be the reason.

    Either way, black women with white men might be called a whore or whatnot- but relatively speaking they are not getting attacked physically.

  • CareyCarey | April 14, 2012 11:32 AMReply

    I do not believe I would frame Abel as an asshole, nor would I classify his behavior as "madness" (notwithstanding the last scene) and I DID empathize with him because I understood him. Imo, Abel was your garden varity cop, in such, he was a part-time arrogant prick, not a full time ass-hole. More importantly he was a protective father who did not like nor desire his children to be influenced by his neighbor's way of life. I do not see anything wrong with that. Needless to say, I agree with Tambay's statement--->"several topical issues that I'd say really haven't been seriously and comprehensively tackled enough on film (despite attempts here and there) - notably, attitudes towards interracial coupling, specifically within the black community". However, I don't waste my time trying to figure out if the black community disdains WM/BW couples more than BW/WM couples. It's a useless and pointless discussion. Now, my likes and dislikes. 1.) Kerry Washington's character (and her white girl persona) 2.) I loved Lisa's father. He didn't pull any punches. 3.) I actually liked Abel, and Samuel nailed the part. I laughed along with Able and his buddies, and I understood his need to run the neighbors out of the neighborhood. Would I have used the means he did? Not exactly but I understand that he did what he thought he had to do to protect his family. That's right, who loves neighbors exposing themselves (their naked asses and private parts) to their young children? And everybody does not adore the thought of their daughter sleeping with Billy Bob, nor being influenced to do so. 4.) The ending was bogus. Rating = 7 1/2 out of 10 stars. Today it's Bernie Mac time. I Ain't Scared Of You: A Tribute To Bernie Mac

  • CareyCarey | April 15, 2012 11:50 PM

    I believe we are done Blutopaz. It looks like another love TKO. I mean, I've laid out my argument several times, yet you seem to be content with clouding the issue and moving the goal posts. Sooooooo... one last time... here is exactly what I said quotes: "I guess you're basically disagreeing with my opinion that Kerry's character (HER CHARACTER!) had flavors of a white girl? ~ Carey" AND "this is not the "she talks like a white person (proper)" argument. NOR is this the haves (have college education-money and things) against the have nots (no degree, no sense, no teeth and no man)" ~ Carey. AND "Listen, I loved Kerry Washington's performances in "Ray" and The Last King Of Scotland, so you have to understand and accept the fact that I am NOT referring to her diction ~Carey" AND "I am [was] speaking specifically to the character she [Kerry Washington] played in this film ~CareyCarey". So Blutopaz, I don't expect you to concede any issue in this discussion... I do not believe that's your thang. However, I am simply saying the writers may have dropped the ball as others have mentioned. Do you remember the scene (one of many) in which Lisa told her husband "Chris, be careful because he's a brotha"? Could the writers have, or should they have expounded on that? What did she mean? Would a black woman have said that? Even Lisa's interactions with the black children was... plastic/wooden. It's not often that a black woman would be all shy and giddy and totally in the dark about dance moves. Yes, some of us ain't down with the boogie woogie, shake it down to the ground... but come on, was Lisa merely married to a white man, and not totally removed from her culture? There more but I am done with this one. But wait, I just finished watching Rain. DAMN.... why didn't somebody tell me what I've been missing. It's one of the best indie black films that I've seen in a loooong time! How did I miss the headsup on this jewel? I would have still been in the dark if my lady didn't pick it out. She will pick out any movie with black people on the cover. :-) Anyway, I gotta talk about that film. I wish it hit S & A, or maybe someone can post a link to a past post? And check this... Calvin Lockhart was in the movie!

  • BluTopaz | April 15, 2012 11:07 PM

    1) At what point did I say I did not see Lakeview Terrace?
    2) Is your debate really going to be centered around claiming we are a bunch of ABW who want to defend Kerry's character just so we can eff white dudes in peace? Really? If Kerry's character was a loud, screaming obnoxious shrew when Abel became unhinged, would that have been more of a Black girl persona to you?
    3) All the rest of that still did not explain what you think the differences are between Black and White women; and why Kerry was so "White" to you in LT. Because yeah, we all know what you mean on that tip, and sounds like you are p'od cuz you have been called out on it.

    "Here's the setup. If you were put behind a screen so only your shadow image was seen from the other side and your voice can be heard, do you believe I or any white person would be able to pick you out of line up with 5 white women?"

    Yes just like I said the first time-Kerry be talkin' like a Whitegirl.

  • CareyCarey | April 15, 2012 8:00 PM

    GEEWIZ...@ Sheba, Blutopaz and Akimbo - 3 things that make me say "pop goes the weasel". 1.) None of you have seen the movie so therefore you just wanna argue the most minute details with Mr. CareyCarey so you can get in the box score. 2.) All of you are married to white guys and thus are fueled with rage at the smallest hint of "the odd character of black women who are sleeping with white men". 3) You simply don't believe fat meat is greasy. Look you guys, I'll let you make the call. I see where this conversation is heading so I believe the following will nip it in the bud. Now, to each of you I want you to use yourselves in this game of "Name That Black Chick". Here's the setup. If you were put behind a screen so only your shadow image was seen from the other side and your voice can be heard, do you believe I or any white person would be able to pick you out of line up with 5 white women? Now wait, I am a chocolate brotha and you wouldn't know that I nor the other people were "viewing" you during this hour long game of "Who's The Black Chick". I bet you would stand out like a black jelly bean in a bowl of marshmellows. Now, just in case y'all don't accept that challenge, lets go at this another way. Listen, this is not the "she talks like a white person (proper)"argument. Nor is this the haves (college education-money and things) against the have hots (no degree, no sense, no teeth and no man). Nope, it's not that kind of party. So now the women behind the screen are Oprah, Phylicia Rashad, Alison Stewart, Wendy Williams, Michelle Obama and Micheal Jordan's new fiance. Now, after 1 hour of listening to these women and seeing their shadow images... how hard would it be to say "Bingo, I Found The White Chick". Now, one more time for the hard of hearing---> "I am [was] speaking specifically to the character she [Kerry Washington] played in this film"

  • Sheba | April 15, 2012 4:25 PM

    @Carey i'd like to know what these "fundamental differences" between white women and black women are.

  • CareyCarey | April 15, 2012 2:39 PM

    No Blutopaz, your comment is reminiscent of Akimbo's. Take a look --> "it always comes to the same thing: she talks like a White girl ~ by Blutopaz" vs "Sounds like a sideways version of "why do you talk white/proper? ~ by Akimbo's ". Now Blotopaz, as I told her, I ain't down with that... that's not my argument nor my concern. Listen, I loved Kerry Washington's performances in "Ray" and The Last King Of Scotland, so you have to understand and accept the fact that I am NOT referring to her diction. And, I did not label her. Since you asked a very ambiguous question "What is a "white girl" persona?" I gave you the dictionary definition of the word "persona". However, having read you colorful description of your vision/perception of a black woman --> "[Kerry is not down with them because] she ain't with the hands on hips, eye rolling, etc", I now understand why you're not understanding my position. My "subtle nuances" are far removed from your stock mannerisms. But in the end, I believe we have reached the end of this road because my overall vision/persona/image of a black woman and that of a white woman are obviously never going to match yours. Because in essence you're implying that there are no fundamental differences between black women and white women... and we all that's not true.

  • BluTopaz | April 15, 2012 1:38 PM

    I have heard Black people say this before about Kerry, and it always comes to the same thing: she talks like a White girl. On Lakeview I did not see any scenes where she did not keep it real like an authentic Black woman. Her voice might be slightly higher and a little more nasal than many others. I have never seen her characters hint at a neckroll, and I know you said "subtle nuances" but these perceptions usually come down to the stock mannerisms we see all the time-hands on hips, eye rolling, etc. But to imply that her vibe is a "mask" is labeling. I heard the same thing so often growing up in a small town, and was thrilled when I got around more diverse Black people. That's not a dig against anyone, but once you get out of certain circles you don't feel so pigheonholed. Kerry is very educated and politically active, but she ain't down enough for some Black folks because she speaks in a clipped, precise manner. Many people said the same thing about Diahnne Carroll until Claudine fooled everyone (and she still carried herself in a dignified manner throughout the film, even as a single mom of a small tribe in the hood). I had the same online convo about Wayne Brady (yeah I know-lol) who I used to watch on Whose Line Is It Anyway and thought he was very talented. It wasn't until the Chapelle Show where he acted like a thug that so many Black folks thought he was funny from that one skit. Even he said he's tired of people still coming up to him with that 'slap a bitch' line years later. Black people do the best job stereotyping each other, we don't need to wait for others to do it. And it's not like I don't see some Black celebs go out of their way to distance themselves, IMO; Kerry does not strike me as one of them.

  • CareyCarey | April 14, 2012 1:08 PM

    No Akimbo, you're missing the point. I am speaking specifically to the character she played in this film. I don't know who you're talking about nor what you're referring to in your ambiguos phrase "millions of others". But if you want to start a discussion on those who "talk white/proper" leave me out of it, because "talking proper" is NOT remotely related to what I consider as the ways (and means) of some black folks who try their best to emulate everything about white people, including their disdain for the black race and the nuaces which make us special. Anyway, have you even seen the movie or are you just kneejerking? If you have, I guess you're basically disagreeing with my opinion that Kerry's character had flavors of a white girl? I believe that just about covers it, right? Or do you have something else on your mind?

  • Akimbo | April 14, 2012 12:43 PM

    Just because Kerry (or millions of others) doesn't carry herself the way you think a black person should, but it doesn't mean she unhappy or trying to run away from her blackness. Sounds like a sideways version of "why do you talk white/proper?"

  • CareyCarey | April 14, 2012 12:22 PM

    The persona is the mask or appearance one presents to the world. Blutopaz, if you disagree with my characterization of Kerry's character, please say that, but I am sure you and every else knows exactly what I am referring to. I mean, I am sure there are those who wish to believe we (blacks & whites) are all exactly the same, however, our walk and talk, cadence, pitch, tone and subtle difference/mannerisms, and body type are distinctly different from any other race on this earth. And, unfortunately there are those black folks who love nothing more than to separate themselves from any nuances that would identify them as a "black person". Now, if you would like for me to list what I considered to be Kerry's "white girl" traits, I can do that. Btw, President Obama walks and talks like a black man and so does Denzel.

  • BluTopaz | April 14, 2012 11:58 AM

    What is a "white girl" persona?

  • AccidentalVisitor | April 13, 2012 8:45 PMReply

    Interesting choice, Tambay. If I may give an opinion or two I feel that Turner's rant about the white man and the availability of any woman to him rang hollow then and now. Or at the very least it seemed shortsighted. Maybe it was because his words were written by a white man or maybe it was because Turner wasn't all that much of an intellectual who could process things more thoughtfully. But if he thought about it that issue he had wasn't simply one regarding white men, but one regarding white people in general. Because just like with white men, white women also seem to have their pick of the litter in regards to men of other races. No, this isn't to say white people can woo all of what society may view as the most attractive and or successful of non-white persons. This isn't even to say they can woo most of them. But perhaps because of their unique standing of the world and because of the western media/arts/entertainment industry that has promoted the beauty of white people over all others, it is apparent that white people are typically looked upon as being desirable and suitable mates by a large percentage of folks of other races. There has been studies that bear this out, studies in which non-white people admit in questionnaires that they are more willing to accept white individuals marrying into their families than they would other non-white individuals (especially if that non-white happens to be black). Maybe it has something to do with the craving of light skin newborns being brought into the family circle. A lot of stuff is going on there that could keep psychiatrists busy for centuries. But that being said one group that is typically more resistant to putting white people on that pedestal, or at least won't admit to it, are African Americans . African Americans may have some of the same skin complex issues within their own communities, nevertheless they also date and marry outside their race (including whites) far less than anyone else. Is that all by their own choice? Maybe not. Yet that's how the numbers bear out. Furthermore black men by a relatively small margin date/marry outside their race than black women. Because of that this particular scene involving Sam Jackson's character ring false. If he was an Asian male and saw a disproportionately one-sided coupling between Asian women and white men, we could understand his anger seething underneath. But Turner is a black man and would have just as likely been exposed to seeing his share of black male-white female hookups as he would in seeing black female-white male hookups. His life experiences would have told him that it wasn't white men he was resenting as much as the white race in general. After all white people get what they want. So he shouldn't have lost his marbles over seeing the new couple move into his neighborhood UNLESS he was a racist asshole who also thought of black women as the sole possession of black men. The whole "conversation" between Turner and Chris would have played better if instead Turner's feelings came about as the result of feeling inadequate because he saw a beautiful black woman with a white male who was younger, more successful and, in his eyes, more attractive than him.

  • Vanessa | April 14, 2012 2:16 PM

    Carey - it had nothing to do with race. I wanted to get into the movie, since I hadn't heard of a plot like that before. They just weren't believable as a couple in love. I'm not talking about being kissy kissy but they just had zero chemistry. Their relationship wasn't fully fleshed out either imo. Those scenes you mentioned between them fell flat to me. I actually would have been totally fine with them separating. Plus I didn't care for neither one of their acting, Kerry was a little annoying and Chris was just wooden. But anyways, Lakeview was entertaining; it's a popcorn flick, a guilty pleasure. It could've been much more though.

  • CareyCarey | April 14, 2012 1:41 PM

    Vanessa, off the subject of race, what didn't you like about Chris? Or... is your "problems" with Chris and Race inseparable. I trying to remember what I didn't like about him? As Tambay implied, I believe he was between a rock and a hard place. On one occassion he became upset at his wife's new "family situation", which I believe many men would have acted the same way. And, he pushed back a Washington's character because he basically had to. But I would not have gone to the brotha's house at 3 oclock in the morning. No No, cops and guns and booze is a deadly combination.... at any time of the day.

  • Vanessa | April 14, 2012 1:09 PM

    I never meant to insinuate that wm/bw pairing face more struggles and prejudice than bm/ww. There's no way to quantify that. However, it's especially more difficult to make that comparison, especially when it comes to hate crimes, since a much higher number of bm/ww marry than wm/bw. Technically, higher incidences of hate crimes between bm/ww will occur. I don't like making generalizations. My point was that if a White male feels privileged because of a "racial superiority" it will be less likely that he tries to start a life with a BW, and integrate her into his family as well as integrate into hers. Marriage is a big commitment as you know, it doesn't make any sense for a White man, or any man for that reason, to make such a huge commitment out of entitlement or arrogance. That was my point. Actually, the more racist and prejudiced a WM is the less likely he's want to embark in a lifelong commitment with a BW, and want children. If you research the mentality of white supremacists, or just Racist White people/racist America, you'll find an absolute aversion to interracial relationships, there's also a big advocacy for segregation. Having said that, the movie was a guilty pleasure, a popcorn flick. Ultimately, like Tambay said Abel Turner's character should have been given more dimension, I wanted to sympathize with and like, but I didn't. Regardless, like I said before, I didn't care for Chris and Washington's characters either. So I couldn't really immerse myself like I wanted to.

  • CareyCarey | April 14, 2012 12:04 PM

    A person is not a racist because they see the difficulties which permeate throughout interracial unions. This is a cruel world. The children of those unions catch hell from both races. They're frequently confussed and stuck in the middle of two worlds. Besides, why does a person have to be an asshole because they do not believe in sleeping with those outside their race? Is a person an asshole if they do not agree with same-sex unions? NO! But those who participate in those relationship do their damndest to frame them as the evil villians (assholes-racist-homophopic).

  • BluTopaz | April 13, 2012 11:44 PM

    "His life experiences would have told him that it wasn't white men he was resenting as much as the white race in general."

    The movie would not make any sense at all if it was a BM/WW couple. Much of the hostility was the tension between the two characters as men, esp given the plot twist.

  • AccidentalVisitor | April 13, 2012 9:50 PM

    I also have to respectfully disagree with Vanessa's take as well. She says that some white men don't consider dating black women because there are a lot of landmines to clear for those who pursues that option. Don't know about that. I mean that could be an issue but there isn't any proof that such obstacles aren't also in the way of possibly more white women seeking out black men and vice versa. In America the baggage of this issue is so heavy it is felt by more than just white men. Plus I really don't buy into Vanessa's theory that white males are intimidated by what black men would say if they pursued black women. White men are the most powerful in the world and have never had a problem displaying that power. I can't but them being intimidated of black men in terms of facing scrutiny and scorn from the. Not based by what I've read, learned, experienced over the years. My sister is married to white male so my family is sensitive about the prejudices they face in the real world. But even my sister concedes that while she does get some grief now and then it is less than those she have seen of white female friends who have dated or married black guys. Is her viewpoint any more legitimate than Vanessa's? No. My sister can't speak for every experience. But I once came across information that black male-white female couples, historically, tend to be the target of more hate crimes than white male-black female couples. I believe it was an FBI report or something like that. Also the only black white celeb couples that I'm aware of that have received death threats are those in which the couple comprises of a black man and a white woman. I'm not going to be ignorant to say that white men and black women couples don't bring out the worse in some sick people as well, but the numbers would suggest that black men and white women have been more targeted with the threat of violence, at least that is the case in America. Which brings me to my biggest disappointment with Lakeview Terrace." Here's a movie that deals with the deadly threats directed at an interracial couple, but the writer/director uses a black female-white male couple instead. Worse of all it makes the black male the unhinged offender. Not only did this flip the script, it was a slap in the face of who has typically been the target and who has typically been the one doing the targeting. I think the writer/director said it was intentional on his part to turn things on their head like that. He may pat himself on the back for that but to me it comes across as another example in modern major motion pictures (not independents) shying away from portraying a black male-white female couple in any way. That's not being bold, that's being typically predictable. In fact I'll go as far to say it was a copout. It would be like doing a film about religious bigotry in which Jewish Americans terrorize the lone Christian family who moves into their neighborhood. Would Hollywood consider that to be bold or would it see that as insulting?

  • Vanessa | April 13, 2012 12:51 PMReply

    I couldn't take this film seriously, especially towards the last scenes, which like you said, were absurd. Jackson's character Abel, could've definitely used some more complexity. But so could've Chris, the White character. I also didn't really care for Chris and Washington's characters as a couple. They had zero chemistry; so, that in itself was a problem for me. Abel's character was REALLY unlikable, being that none of the reasons he gave Chris for being against his interracial releationships were valid, especially to go absolutely psycho. The scene you pointed out, when Abel tells Chris that "he can arrogantly have whatever or whomever he wants, without pause, without concern, without having to ask, or worry how he might be received by the rest of the world," is one that I can't really relate to and was layed out there to really make Chris more sympathetic. First of all, a White man embarking in a serious relationship with a Black woman, in which he wants to marry etc..is no walk in the park with no worries, quite the contrary. That's pretty much the reason why many White men don't even consider dating Black women. I think White men definitely don't want to feel the scorn from Blacks and Whites alike, ESPECIALLY from black men; they are intimidated. I do see where you're coming from with that mentality though. There's been studies that the actual WM/BW relationships seem to last longer than others, which tells me that there has to be some real connection, love, and that they must both really want it in order to deal with people's prejudices from both races. Anyways, like I said, I didn't really get the connection between Chris and his wife, so that aspect didn't work me either.

  • CareyCarey | April 14, 2012 1:59 PM

    SAY IT AGAIN JMAC.... tell the truth.... the overwhelming majority of black women DO NOT want anything to do with sleeping with a white man! Your 2 cents was appreciated and needed.

  • Jmac | April 14, 2012 1:33 PM

    "First of all, a White man embarking in a serious relationship with a Black woman, in which he wants to marry etc..is no walk in the park with no worries, quite the contrary. That's pretty much the reason why many White men don't even consider dating Black women." That and most black women don't want a white man. Sorry had to add my two cents :) Agree with rest of the assessment.

  • Vanessa | April 13, 2012 1:06 PM

    I forgot to say something else. I guess I'm on a roll :). I think the thought of you taking a "woman away" from another man because you can, in this case, intentionally dating a Black Woman to show you're racial entitlement and priviledge is absurd and absolutely sexist. Women are not something you take, "pick" or just "have." That's up to the woman anyways. Plus no man is willing to marry, I'm not talking about sex now, and commit for the long run for those reasons or just out of arrogance, quite the opposite. I just wanted to make clear why I didn't sympathize with Abel at all. Oh btw, I don't think a man's instinct to protect a woman is sexist. It think that's just natural. I don't mean like go out there and slay dragons, but I think there are ways men can protect women; I don't mean just physically. Ok that's it.

  • MFAScreenwriter | April 13, 2012 11:43 AMReply

    White dude is racist, an innocent black man dies for his sin and we're made to feel sorry for the white dude (The Green Mile).

    Black dude is racist, a cop in this instance, and he gets shot up brutally... by other cops, after the audience being bludgeoned with the idea that Samuel L has color on his side, "blue."

    In that sense, Lakeview Terrace is actually unintentionally insightful. Speaks to the difference between white prejudice (institutional) and black prejudice.

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