Aside from being highly entertaining, the Kung Fu movies that became popular in the early 80’s provide the watcher with lessons on life, history and most importantly on the significance of family, culture and protecting ones community for the future of its survival.
In the quintessential Kung Fu film, a man is wronged by an unjust government official or a foreign invader. After losing everything and possibly becoming injured, he stumbles upon Buddhist monks who teach him how to free his mind and defend his body. He reads the Buddhist scriptures and learns martial arts – think of Rocky IV but his coach is a priest and his gym is a church.
After training for a short time, the main character is often overzealous and decides to take on the bad guys before he’s ready. After getting beaten and embarrassed, he learns to let go of his rage and pride. This is when his more advanced training begins. With a new found impetus, he learns the deeper meanings behind the words of the scriptures and the moves of the martial art.
The movies end with our now beloved character ousting the tyrants and becoming a legendary Chinese hero. In many of these films there is a final scene where a wise man explains that China means “our land” and must always be remembered and continue its greatness.
In 90 minutes, we have learned about ethics, teamwork, perseverance, charity, courage, altruism, Buddhism and Chinese history. We are inspired to fight evil and keep our bodies pure and fit. Best of all, we were unaware that any of this was happening. We thought that we were watching an exhilarating action movie – silly us.
Why is this important?
In America, cash is king but perception is prince. Negative self image plays a major role in the many social ills that plague Black Americans, especially those with low income. This image, born in slavery (1619 -1895) and cultivated in decades of second class citizenship, has become internalized and projected onto the unsuspecting generations ever since its inception.
This feeling of inferiority, found deep in the subconscious, motivates some to “prove” themselves while motivating others towards self destruction. Both are trying to find an escape from the nagging demon in their reactive mind. Since Americans equate cash to class, the Black person who proves him/herself by acquiring money is perceived as the upper echelon of the lower class. The major downside of this value system is if/when the proven person losses his/her money, the status disappears with it. It is the difference between being rich and wealthy.
How Kung Fu flick-like movies can help
Our History. Our Land. Our Future.
These guiding principles have lead China to become a superpower and can lead Black Americans to greatness. By embracing the values expressed in the classic Kung Fu movie and rejecting inferiority and individualism, the Black community can create an actual Black Community. This community no longer needs to be in a physical place that can be attacked and destroyed like Greenwood Oklahoma’s Black Wall Street in 1921. It can be a virtual network of people with a common image and purpose.
Django Unleashed partially served this purpose. It incorporated many of the themes of the Kung Fu flicks of old with one major difference. Django was motivated by the love of his wife. A Chinese hero would of have been motivated by the greater good for his people. This difference in motivation is similar to the difference between an individual being temporarily rich and a family becoming sustainably wealthy. The theme of “I do this for us” is essential for changing global perception and negative self image.
Maybe one day the color of a man’s skin will be no more important than the color of his eyes. Maybe the ideal of a post-racial society will one day be a reality, and the need for a strong Black Community will be unnecessary. Until then… Our History. Our Land. Our Future.