If you didn't know already, we are living in the start of a Trump movie era. Now more than ever, filmmakers are taking societal issues straight to the screen, using movies to discuss relevant topics like immigration, sexism, and racism. The movie Little America, out earlier this year, told a sci-fi tale about a Trump-ish figure who ran America's economy to the ground, and Jordan Peele's horror film Get Out explored microaggressions and overt racism alike. And now there's Beatriz At Dinner, out June 9, which, judging from the trailer, seems like it'll put discrimination against Latinos in our current political climate front and center.
The new film follows holistic healer and Mexican immigrant Beatriz (Salma Hayek) who attends her white, wealthy clients Cathy (Connie Britton) and Grant's (David Warshofsky) dinner party. Yet instead of being a pleasant evening, the dinner consists of Beatriz being treated like the help and forced to participate in heated discussions about social inequality, racism, immigration, and White elitism.
Just take the first encounter seen in the trailer, which sets the movie's squeamish tone. "Can I get another bourbon, hon?" says rich, white Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) to Beatriz, motioning to his empty glass. A friend explains that Beatriz is a guest at the party, and not the help, and the awkwardness is palpable. “You were just hovering,” Strutt replies to Beatriz, as if it's an apology. “I figured you were part of the staff.”
It's the kind of dialogue that boils your blood, and unfortunately, happens all the time in real life. I'm hopeful that by showcasing experiences like this, Beatriz at Dinner will prompt discussions about systemic and oppressive racism and strike a chord with audiences. After all, this movie is everything we need in our current climate; it's a political and social statement about how marginalized people of color are and how they're treated compared to those who are white and wealthy.
According to a 2014 survey conducted by PRRI, 52 percent of White Americans say they believe discrimination against them is on par with discrimination faced by Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities. This statistic is a true testament to the lack of understanding and knowledge many White people have about the basic concepts of racism and elitism. They need to be educated on these topics, and perhaps Beatriz at Dinner could help this happen.
America has a legacy of institutional discrimination that is pervasive and determined on skin color, and has been shown in the mass incarceration of people of color, the ongoing issues of housing segregation, and the role of law enforcement in furthering racist systems and hierarchies, among other issues. This is our reality, and it's crucial that movies and TV shows show reflect this, in order to hopefully spark conversations and change.
I hope that Beatriz At Dinner creates major discussion about the many biases our society has about people of color, and that those who are ignorant find their eyes opened wide. As a Black woman, I've seen firsthand how White elitism deems people of color inferior, and how painful everyday prejudice and microaggressions can be. Our society has been set up in a way that reinforces racial biases and perspectives by creating comfort for the wealthy and the White. But if we work to discuss these behaviors, we might succeed in dismantling some forms of prejudice and understanding the roots of racial privilege.