The other day a group of friends and I went to the cinema to watch London Has Fallen. Rotten Tomatoes had apparently blessed this decision and so our whole posse stormed into the cinema with popcorn and the like, ready to watch Gerard Butler kick some brown ass.
Yup, you read right. London Has Fallen is about the epidemic of brown people threatening white stability.
Gerard Butler is the American President’s bodyguard in this thriller. The movie opens with a wedding held in some sort of desert area with a palace in the middle of it, and lots of Indian people dancing around like a typical Bollywood movie. Some swoon-worthy Indian/Arab/Brownbrownbrown security guards stand around in their black suits and their beards and their foreign language. Suddenly, kaboom!
Two years later, our Prime Minister has died, and all the world leaders including beautiful Aaron Eckhart as the US President have been invited to attend the funeral. The business criminal whose family and extended family and all the ethnically ambiguous but definitely brown-skinned had been kaboomed two years ago make a complete comeback, taking over the police, gunning down world leaders with our own police force and destroying characteristic monuments. God, that part was so disturbing. Of course Mr Eckhart survives and Mr Butler helps get him out of the now terrorist-infested city.
This is a story about how London has fallen (the worst scenario ever – real talk, I cried, all the huge London landmarks were destroyed completely and it was very frightening), and how all the world leaders except for America (because Hollywood) have been pretty much blown up.
It wasn’t too bad as there were lots of cool women, one of colour who died early on in the movie (I cried again, what with the not-evil brown people having been diminished by 1), there was of course Morgan Freeman, and a very “strong, independent” woman holding a cool position in the MI6. One of the things that won it over for my friend is that it wasn’t about the terrorists, it was about a business criminal. It’s just that the business criminal happened to be Arab and belonged to a family of Pakistanis, Indians, and all other brown people. Some of them really beautiful brown models.
Still though. London Has Fallen was about terror attacks on London, and the American president (with the help of Mr Gerard Butler) surviving this, and overcoming those “fuckers” who thought it was a good thing to mess with the West. And it was incredibly patriotic, ngl, not when you’re faced with the beautiful city you’ve grown up with and only just managed to realise just how much you take it for granted when you see all of it in smithereens. Gosh, the bridge being all blown up? That hit the heart. And when Butler did that emphatic speech on beating those fuckers you can’t help but agree through the tears, and the righteous indignation. It didn’t help that the President was a pretty cool, morally sound guy, and the film quality itself was really, really good. (Also this must have had the most diverse cast ever and yet most of the evil Brown people were so good looking).
But it was just a movie. And we were in Westfield, which, after the Brussels attack, was flooded with police. All of Stratford was. We were in Westfield, which apparently ISIS had wanted to get their hands on and blow up (one scene in London Has Fallen showed one brown person cutting off the electricity and a mall very similar to Westfield had its lights going out). We were in Westfield, in the cinema with its really good surround-system sound system, and I felt scared because what was depicted in London Has Fallen could happen. It was likely. Sure, it’s Hollywood and no doubt things were exaggerated but the fear of what could be scared the crap out of me.
I’m a “brown” person. This rant isn’t even about Muslims at this point (though all the Arabs, and the bearded brown hotties in the movie beg to differ) but about the whole homogenous terror-mongering group of The Brown. The Brown vs The White and that one brown, probably renegade, MI6 lackey. Somebody was talking to me about being brown, and about how “Islamophobia” had altered to just a complete antagonism for brown people – no matter how subtle it was. Yeah, like, I’m sorry that you’ve been roped in too, next time the media ridicules and offends people of my religion and chooses a brown-skinned poster person I’ll let them know to change it to some other colour so that y’all other brown people of other religions don’t get roped in with my persecution also.
And the other thing is, I’m brown, and all fifteen of us who went to watch the movie were people of colour. We are passionate Londoners, we cried or at least felt like crying when we saw the horrific scene of London basically burning, and we wanted those fuckers to die. But the subliminal message that it was white people vs brown people put us in a very awkward position. London Has Fallen was supposed to be this feel-good solidarity-showing warm hug from Hollywood telling us that the West stand united against hatred, and hate-mongerers alike. What it really showed was that if you’re brown, you’re a “fucker”, and you hate the West. Very counterintuitive that, considering I goddamn live here.
That movie was made for white patriots who felt targeted by ISIS and other terror groups, and yes, ain’t gonna lie, those terror groups are filled with brown people predominantly. Yes, they’re targeting people who aren’t Muslim, people in tourist-y areas, etc. Yes, it’s horrible.
Yet please understand that they’re targeting The Brown too. We are their targets for brainwashing, we, the young brown people who have sat and watched this brown vs white film, are vulnerable too. And also, there are murderers out there who don’t care about Muslims, not in London. The 7/7 attacks – there was a Muslim on board. Recently, Leytonstone – “Muslim” area, attacked by a guy with a machete. This is ridiculous. It isn’t a brown vs white reality, we are just as much a Londoner as you are, and yes some of us share the same(ish) skin colour as some of the fuckers out there, but god, all it does is show that you choose to divide what’s black and what’s white by the colour of someone’s skin. Or the religion they claim to confess. And although there are lots of attempts by Muslims and non-Muslims, by people of colour, and non-brown people, to show that London, and the West is integrated and will stand in unity against terrorism – movies like London Has Fallen only puts people of colour in an uncomfortable position. It was a cool movie, but because it wasn’t targeted for me, it likened me to a terrorist group. How dare it. I am just as much scared, shocked, and angry as Gerard Butler. I just don’t have his muscles, okay?
This sort of inherent racism in movies teaches people to distinguish who is a terrorist and who isn’t by their skin colour. It’s terrifying to think that just because I am a person of colour I have that much of a chance of being likened to a terrorist, a bridge-burning mall-hating terrorist, by a complete stranger who loves their Gerard Butler. Besides it’s not a clever way to distinguish between terrorists and non-terrorists because news flash: it’s the ideas people subscribe to that distinguish them as terrorists. People who embrace hate are the ones we should be looking out for, regardless of something like the colour of their skin. It’s people’s values that should be scrutinised, not the colour of their skin or where they come from, or heck, even their religion.
And I know it’s harder, and I know London Has Fallen is a lot easier to plot out if you have an ethnically ambiguous but totally brown clan of terrorists up against the stark white, pure knights in shining armour – but it isn’t the reality. Don’t kid yourself. Stop putting us in a box, or even making us sit on the fence so much.