Can we all collectively agree right now that "race-themed film" is not simply another way to describe "movies with black people in them"? Because it seems that some people still don't understand this—namely USA Today, who this weekend put out a tweet referring to The Best Man Holiday as a "race-themed film," when the film has absolutely nothing to do with race. In fact, the tweet is still up:
The Best Man Holiday, for the record, has nothing to do with race. It's is a sequel to 1999's The Best Man, and the plot centers around the characters from the first film reuniting to celebrate Christmas after 15 years apart. The cast is predominately made up of black actors, but the plot has nothing to do with race, at all—it focuses on friendships, relationships, life, and the problems that come with it, but nothing about race. So, it's moronic (not to mention racist) that USA Today would toss it under the umbrella of "race-themed" just because the characters who are in the film just so happen to be black.
In fact, it almost serves to dehumanize them in a way: Here are a group of characters dealing with situations that any person, regardless of the color of their skin, deals with at least once in their lives—but just because these characters in the film are black, suddenly every situation becomes "race-themed"? No.
Shortly after the tweet was posted, criticisms and backlash against the publication began pouring in, namely on Twitter:
So according to @USATODAY any movie showing Black people acting like humans is considered a race-themed movie.— T. Brown (@TheBlackVoice) November 17, 2013
USA Today calls movies with black people in them "race themed". Cos black people are a genre. Like superhero movies. #USATODAYBREAKINGNEWS— Sindi Nkosi (@sindadoodle) November 17, 2013
#USATODAYBREAKINGNEWS black people/race-themed people doing the same things as other races. earth falls out of space.— Something like a G (@G33G33) November 18, 2013
Race Themed? What about "holiday themed"? Hell..."romantic comedy" would subdue! The hell???— Alexis S (@tweettooth_4lex) November 18, 2013
I wonder what other "race themed" movies I saw but didnt realize they were "race themed" Disney's Princess and the Frog?— A Conner (@MsAConnerEsq) November 18, 2013
The backlash even sparked a hashtag, #USATODAYBREAKINGNEWS, in which people mocked USA Today's usage of term "race-themed." Shortly after, the publication put out a second tweet about the box office numbers, this time with the term "race-themed" replaced with "diverse films":
'Holiday' nearly beats 'Thor' as diverse films soar http://t.co/aV35VxucaB— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 17, 2013
While it's correct to say that The Best Man Holiday has a more diverse cast comparing to other movies in the box office, this still doesn't change anything about the original tweet. When the backlash continued, USA Today eventually gave up trying to understand diversity, and the article that the tweet links to was changed completely. As of now, the headline currently reads: "'Best Man Holiday' nearly beats mighty 'Thor'."
No, The Best Man Holiday is not a "race-themed" film. Of all the issues it deals with—marriage, sex, relationships, friendships, etc.—not once does the subject of race come up. Labeling a film as "race-themed" just because it features black actors is not only despicable, but it's ignorant as well.