The “White Guilt Film” Complaint and Why it’s Offensive

Twelve Years a Slave,¬†The Butler, and even¬†Django Unchained have been labeled with the “White Guilt Film” moniker. With Selma already receiving a great deal of positive buzz from critics, that phrase has seen a resurgence of use. And honestly? Labeling a film that covers things like slavery, discrimination, and other historical struggles for black people simply as “White Guilt Films” is an extraordinarily offensive thing to do. On top of that, it’s also incredibly arrogant and – I say this seriously – completely stupid. What’s worse is people are going further to state that these films are praised merely because critics are coerced into giving positive reviews out of some sense of guilt. Many negative criticisms on these films are often preceded by some variation of the absurd claim “Oh I’ll be called racist for not liking it”, which is a tellingly defensive thing to say and speaks volumes about the real racial issue that surrounds these movies. In this article, I’m going to unpack, analyze, and dismiss all of the “White Guilt Film” arguments, and hopefully by the end you will see how problematic they are if you don’t already.

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