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Michael Harriot, Netflix's Bird Box Is Really About How White People Don't Want to See Racism, (12/27/2018)


MichaelHarriotSpoiler alert: Some major plot points will be revealed in this article. And by “some,” I mean “all of them.”

If you haven’t seen or read the viral social media discussions of the Netflix thriller Bird Box, you’re missing one of the greatest race allegory movies that has ever been released in the last part of December 2018. It’s about how white people suddenly realize racism is spreading across the world and they can only escape its wrath if they refuse to acknowledge it because...

Wait. You think it’s a monster movie? Don’t be silly.

One of my favorite pastimes is dissecting the themes of movies and TV shows and then theorizing what the movie or show is really about. For instance, John Boyega plays Nat Turner in the Star Wars reboot, The Force Awakens. He’s a slave (Stormtrooper) who leads a rebellion that eventually destroys the plantation (The Death Star) and defeats the slavemaster (Kylo Ren).

I must admit that horror isn’t my favorite genre, but I try to inject some suspense into viewing scary movies by pulling for the villain. I find it admirable how Freddy Krueger overcame obvious skin problems and dedicated himself to protecting Elm Street from gentrification. I believe Chucky is just a misunderstood little doll who can be a little boisterous at times.

So when I started watching Bird Box, I was pulling for the invisible monster because I immediately recognized that the movie was a parable about white America’s willingness to ignore white supremacy. I even tweeted an entire thread about it, here.

So, if you have seen the movie, or even if you haven’t, please allow me to break down the subtext of the movie Bird Box.

The movie stars Sandra Bullock who plays a character called “White Privilege.” Miss Privilege is very sad because she has lived a very hard life. She grew up on a beautiful horse farm with her sister in California, which is just like living in the projects except that she hated her father. She really doesn’t say why she hates her father, but white people always hate one of their parents for some bullshit reason like missing their third-grade Christmas play or making them clean their room.

For some reason, the only thing Caucasians hate more than cleaning their rooms is gluten. I still don’t know what gluten is, but I think someone should make a horror movie starring Kate Winslet about a girl who awakens to find gluten sprinkled all over her room, leading to a moral crisis. That shit would win an Oscar because Winslet is great at looking wistful while contemplating a moral dilemma.

Anyway, Ms. Privilege is pregnant. Somehow she makes it through most of her pregnancy while doing the backbreaking work of creating oil paintings while her sister rides prized horses all day.

One day, White Privilege’s sister tells her about this never-before-seen problem called “racism.” They watch a little bit of news about this racism thing, but they don’t worry about it because no one where they live is racist.

Then, during a trip into town to visit the doctor, they discover racism is everywhere and its spreading quickly. Things have gotten so bad that when people discover racism, they immediately become depressed. Privilege’s sister immediately kills herself, leaving our heroine surrounded by this invisible monster.

Luckily, because of her privilege, she finds a house where people are hiding from racism. It is filled with white people and a couple of black men who are some of the “good ones.”

Soon, the white people realize they can become immune to racism by ignoring it. They figure out that if you just don’t look at racism, it won’t make you feel bad. So they quickly decide they would never acknowledge the existence of racism, which would prevent them from being attacked.

In the movie, Lil’ Rel plays a character who has studied racism for years. He tries to explain to everyone that racism has existed since the beginning of time, but no one will listen to him because he’s not educated, he’s just some dude who works at a grocery store.

The only thing the uneducated black guy is good for is helping them get some food from his grocery store. He helps them get through the bad neighborhood that is torn apart by racism. When they get to the store, they discover that there are some crazy people who have looked directly into the eyes of racism. Lil’ Rel eventually dies saving them from a guy who was trying to tell them about racism, but that guy spent time in the criminal justice system, so he was obviously crazy.

But instead of listening to the self-taught black man or the crazy people, Miss White Privilege discovers that a little birdie will tell her when racism is near. So she finds some birds that were going to be sold as chattel and keeps them caged up for the purposes of keeping racism away. Of course, the birds want to be free, but they must remain in a box because... after all, how else would the white people survive?

In the movie, Trevante Rhodes plays a Tom (Bruh, that’s literally his name). Tom is very handsome and very resourceful. Even in the apocalypse, Tom finds a way to keep his edge-up fresh as he tries to saves all the white people from racism. Ultimately, even though one of their best friends is black, Tom can’t prevent the white people from seeing racism. Soon racism takes over everything, creating a white supremacist world.

Donald Trump made a cameo appearance as “Gary.” Gary Trump’s shenanigans killed most of the cast (even the old white people) because after they let him in, he gained their trust and then forced them to look racism squarely in the eyes.

Luckily, Tom saves the children and then, and only then, Tom fucks Sandra Privilege, because she’s the last woman on earth. Because of their uncle Tom, the white children learn that they can ignore racism, too. They learn how to listen to everything else in the world except the whispers about white supremacy.

Uncle Tom dies keeping the children safe from people trying to tell them about white supremacy, and the entire White Privilege family decides that the only thing that will protect them from white supremacy is a safe space. So they take a journey to find this oasis where white supremacy doesn’t exist.

The journey consists of a lot of falling down. There has to be a scene with a white woman falling down to get horror movie certification. White people in horror movies have weak ankles and terrible balance. But even when they fall, the racism monster that traveled across the world somehow can’t catch them.

Then, there comes a point when Miss Privilege has to decide which kid is going to look at racism. It’s repeated throughout the movie. But when the time comes, Sandra tells the kids: “Fuck that, it’s too dangerous. Matter fact, ain’t no one looking!”

And somehow they find this beautiful oasis where racism doesn’t exist. There’s only one problem:

Racism still exists.

No one kills racism. They don’t even escape racism. The only reason that this compound is protected from the supremacy of whiteness is that the people who live there literally can’t see race! The ones who can see race must still ignore racism because racism still rears its ugly head.

The only thing that protects the sighted people from the racism monster is that they have a bunch of birds. And the birds aren’t even free. They just think they are free because the white people gave them a bigger bird box. The birds are still slaves, they just don’t know it!

But everyone lives happily ever after in a post-racial society where the problem of white supremacy is solved simply by walking around with blinders on.

See? I told you.