Dear White People | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Dear White People

A provocative comedy about being black in today's America

Writer-director Justin Simien makes a splashy debut with this buzzed-about ensemble comedy that's a provocative and entertaining mash-up of satire, campus comedy and truth-telling about race in contemporary America. Set on a prestigious, and mostly white, campus, the film takes its title from one student's  radio show, a biting primer for white people interacting with blacks. ("My hair is not a petting zoo.") The radio show and the broader discussions it prompts run throughout the film, covering issues such as personal representation (blacks who act white, whites who act black, gays who aren't black enough, blacks who act too black), as well as cultural tropes (rap, Tyler Perry, fear of Obama). That's a lot to cover in a film that on its surface is about a party that goes very wrong, but Simien's not done tossing hot potatoes in the air: sexuality, father-son conflicts, media complicity, racial privilege and, perhaps most critically, our successes and failures to collectively talk about all these things in our not-really-post-racial society. Simien steers it all to a resolution that manages to find a sweet spot between hopeful, cynical and, yeah, still angry (be sure to catch the credits). But don't let all this fancy big-issues-talk keep you away: This film is also very funny.

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