Movie trends come and go, but if there’s one thing Americans consistently love, it’s rich white women in rich white women stories who rescue poor black kids in need of love. It’s a paternalistic, sanctimonious, slightly racist genre of filmmaking that elevates white people to ‘heroic missionaries’ and makes black people childlike victims. In 1995, we had Dangerous Minds, in 2009, The Blind Side, and 2014 will bring us The Good Lie, the story of Reese Witherspoon saving a bunch of cute little lost souls(!) from Sudan. [Editor’s Note: You take that back about Michelle Pfeiffer! She was living in a gangster’s paradise!]
To promote their self-promoting story, the makers of The Good Lie have teamed up with a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles called The Giving Keys, which hires homeless people from the city to make jewelry from repurposed keys. According to The NY Times, the jewelry features “inspirational messages,” and consumers are encouraged to blog about how their ‘inspirational’ mood rings made them feel on the organization’s website (someone please pass a bucket). For The Good Lie, producers will distribute 250 keys with the word ‘Good’ on one side and the word ‘Give’ on the other. The goal is to both promote the movie (keys will be given exclusively to celebrities) and encourage everyone to commit small acts of kindness. From the movie’s producer, Molly Smith:
“What I like about it that it’s like a call to action . . . giving people another way to be proud of giving back . . . and talk about something positive they’re doing instead of selfies.”
Not to judge, but if you’re interested in ‘giving back’ to your community, the least effective way to do it is by committing small acts of kindness. As someone who spent a little bit of time working in the system, I’d like to believe that homeless people need ‘good jobs, quality schools, safe housing,’ not ‘rich people smiles’ and ‘inspirational keyware.’
The campaign will combine social enterprise with social media. Costs for advertising are expected to be laughably low, because if there’s one thing homeless people don’t need, it’s money.
If you’re interested in checking out the trailer for The Good Lie, I’ve attached it below. Spoiler alert: there’s a great scene where the boys arrive in an airport and Witherspoon reveals she doesn’t know where Sudan is. Isn’t it hilarious that the person in charge of helping international refugees doesn’t have a third-grade knowledge of geography? God, white people are so funny sometimes! (And great!!!!!!!)