The gods in Hollywood must be crazy that they are still making movies like Blended. I guess Hollywood’s response to Binyavanga’s essay How to Write About Africa is to take it out of context and misapply it to filmmaking. And the debates raging around Africa’s representation in CNN and other Western media have not trickled down to Hollywood heavens. Well, African filmmakers can play the high-stakes game of I see your stereotype, I raise you mine.
First, always call the United States, America because none of the other countries in North and South America matter (none of the individual States matter, either). America is a Country because America is THE country.
Set your film on Independence Day. Show only tea party members with their red necks wrapped in American flags as they grill exploding cheese hotdogs. Show them standing their ground, armed to the teeth wearing Rambo T-Shirts. Do not talk about Native Americans, or the Bantustan like reservations. It will complicate your picture unnecessarily.
Moonshine is a lot like changaa and other illicit African brews. Make it the drink of choice and show your ‘real’ Americans drinking it from recycled battered Budweiser cans as they sing the star spangled banner. Do not talk about the over 40 million Americans living in poverty in the United States – why put statistics behind happy drunk faces?
With the Arizona desert and sunset in the background show the tougher than leather gun-toting minutemen resting their boots on the chests on dead Mexicans. Do not talk about NAFTA and unequal trade, and a senseless war on drugs fought with American arms – your film might become too preachy and who wants that?
Only call president Obama, President Drone. Always picture him grinning from ear from ear while the whole nation plays drone video games. Do not show the peace movement – it will ruin your perfect picture of a whole nation marching to the drumbeat of war.
But wait – remember George Bush and Dick Cheney? Make them every American president and make a hundred films all titled “Every village has its Idiot.” Do not talk about how the media laughed along with the village idiots, or the corporatisation of American politics, or the billions of dollars going to the selection of politicians. I mean, why would you do even want to do such a thing?
Remember, in the United States there is no corruption. If your film is about overzealous lobbyists and slightly misguided politicians, do not use the C word. But whatever you do, do not complicate your film by talking about untethered capitalism or finance regulation.
You must have some Africans in your American film. Show them afraid to knock on white doors or refusing help from policemen after an accident for fear of getting shot. And even on the hottest of summer days, they should wear only business suits and not casual clothes lest they become another Trayvon Martin.
If your film is about love, then you are in luck, especially if your characters are going to get married. Remember this, love is money. Your couple must go into debt for a white wedding and the groom work two jobs for that ring. Valentines day? Mother’s day? Father’s day? Love is a dollar bill.
As your couple ages, show them in a nursing home, alone with no family member in sight. Do not talk about the complexities of ageing and health care. Who cares?
Now you cannot make a movie of America without the statue of liberty. End your film with the lady bathed in a golden glow with no comment – let irony do the work. But if you have something against irony, photo-shop dollar signs on her fist.
Or in the skyline photo-shop Obama with a drone head and his ears parachuting down a missile with the equation AF = P+R+R/WV. A successful film about America has to be about Profit, Racism, Religion, War and Violence.
Have everyone involved with your film about America memorise that equation and repeat it every morning. Simple, isn’t it?
Now for the next 100 films about American, apply the formula: AF = P+R+R/WV