The Karate Kid: A 12Yr Old Black Kid Dominates the Box Office

Will Smith produced the hell out of the newest installation of the 80’s classic THE KARATE KID. He had the foresight to bring the project to Jerry Weintraub who finally agreed after much trepidation. Co-producing with a Chinese company also a smart move. Casting Jackie Chan, his fan base–the martial arts fan base–hot. And even asking Jackie to do a little bit more as an actor, something rarely done in his US films. Setting the film in China gave it the AVATAR effect. The audience EXPERIENCED this new, ancient, forbidden, and magical place with Jaden Smith’s character. Ralph Macchio‘s Daniel moving from Jersey to Cali was cool but in 2010 China was the thing…

Finally saw the movie last night in a theater filled with parents and their children. I hadn’t been in a theater filled with such young people in a long time and for whatever the film lacked it more than made up for when it came to the elements needed to engage and please an audience for 2hours & 20mins. I don’t recall the last time an audience cheered for a character. I enjoyed the journey but then called my peoples, Emani, Deatra, & Charles as I usually do when walking out of the theater to give my personal review. I won’t share that review with you because it does not matter. Like I said, I enjoyed the journey more than most of the summer Blockbuster’s so far.

What really matters is that a 12 year-old black kid is the lead character in a movie that has had huge box office numbers thus far, 55 million opening weekend and 93.3 million worldwide. This is unprecedented but it won’t be spoken about much. Because although race is in the room we should not acknowledge it. In film and in politics, being Raceless, to make our counterparts comfortable, is in fact how some of us get ahead.

If you think a Black President is significant, understand that what Will Smith has done with his own career and now with his son and THE KARATE KID, has shifted cultural and political paradigms. The children in that audience wanted to be Dre the way I wanted to be Daniel-son back in the day. Now, I want to be Dre too. The most telling moment of the movie for me was when a little girl sitting behind me, she must have been around 4 years old, yelled out to her mother, “that’s a girl, that’s a girl like me.” A woman at a temple was posing, meditating, facing down a cobra. It was a beautiful moment and this child, like the rest of us in the audience, realized that it was the first time in the film we saw a woman with martial arts skills too. For that little girl that might have been the most important moment in the movie. This just underscores the fact of how important it is for us, ALL OF US, to see images, faces that reflect ourselves on screen. Congratulations Will, Jada, Jaden, Jackie, Jerry, Taraji, Harald, and the rest of the cast, crew, writers, and producers who made the film possible. You have changed the world.

Yes, I too am unhappy with the way Hollywood has destroyed my childhood memories with it’s various remakes but in this instance Hollywood enhanced my memory.

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