‘Prometheus’ exhibits subtle (and not-so-subtle) Hollywood racism

First things first – Ridley Scott is an asshole.

OK. Now that that’s out of the way, I recently rented the film Prometheus and boy did it suck. I had to check the credits and make sure David Duke wasn’t executive producer.

There are a ton of sites that discuss why this film sucks so I won’t go into those here. There are also a ton of sites that get into why film snobs like me just don’t “get it” and that’s fine – I was actually disappointed to find that Roger Ebert not only liked this film but thought it was “magnificent.” Four stars? Pfft.

This film, while visually stunning at times, is just another notch in the belt for the subtle and not-so-subtle racism that spews out of the Hollywood machine. I Googled “Prometheus racist” and found one thread that had people mocking the very notion:

Racist?! Give me a break!

Uh-huh, sure, but it’s interesting to me that people love to dissect plots and look for hidden meaning in films but dare to mention that there may be some unintentional racism and people immediately call you a quack. It’s OK to have multiple layers to a film, even if they don’t make sense – but unsubtle racism – if you find that in a film you’re an asshole and not the director. Got it.

The first thing that I noticed about this film is the implication that the “primitives” on Earth, i.e. the Egyptians, Mayans, Aztecs, Incas were not bright enough on their own to know where this star system was…they had to have help! Oh! Of course! Stupid savages…

This goes hand-in-hand with the notion that they couldn’t possibly have built those pyramids without the aid of illegal (space) aliens. This is a popular notion regarding ancient people of color. Whereas the Greeks and Romans were geniuses with their societies, ancient people of color must have had help from outer space because they were too “primitive” to do anything on their own. This is bullshit and should be refuted every single time but here we have Prometheus reinforcing this notion.

The second, and most obvious racist thing in Prometheus, is the “engineers” themselves, that is, the creators of all life on earth, our creators, and they are………….(wait for it)………….white!

Yay! Yet another ridiculous notion that White people created everything, including all life on Earth through their own “sacrifice” and genius. Many people will reject this observation and I would ask: why are the bad aliens (the penis-head ones) black? Hmmmm…Would it change the story if the engineers were green and the aliens red? Nope. But the age old white = good, black = bad is tired. I’m sick of seeing it and Hollywood is culpable for perpetuating stereotypes again. Surprise, surprise.

The engineers have a sinister element to them in that they also want to destroy their creation, which again, gives license to a laundry list of racist things: they’re colonizers – white colonizers at that – that want nothing more than to destroy what they created to begin with. Sound familiar? Is this galactic Manifest Destiny? Columbus in a spacesuit?

To top things off, Ridley Scott has hinted that in the sequel, his main characters (a white lady and a white android head) will travel to “paradise” (his words) and meet with their possibly not-so-nice creators. This falls in line with the racist heaven is for white people only notion that plagues just about every afterlife fantasy. Fan-fuckin-tastic. White people not only created life but they also get to end it and they’re having a kick-ass time up in paradise without any stupid savages or black people (looking at you Idris Elba.)

Which beings me to my next point: there’s never any Mexicans in space! I mean, OK, we had a black guy as the captain, he dies, and we had an Asian co-pilot, who also dies. Great. Thanks, Hollywood. But in the history of sci-fi films there are never any Chicanos. Why is this? We don’t even get to clean the damn spaceship! The only exception to this rule is Edward James Olmos in Blade Runner.

What’s that you say? There are Latinos in eSpace? Ok, but how many of them are Mexis? Go ahead and look, I’ll wait…

This is particularly interesting in Prometheus because if we’re going to discuss the “stupid savages” that carved all those star signs onto rocks, shouldn’t we then include them in the film somehow? You know, seeing as how they were chosen by the great galactic white people in the sky to begin with?

I guess not.

All of this stuff aside, which I’m sure will make sense to exactly three people, this film is awful. The racism just makes it that much worse. Watch at your own risk and remember, Hollywood wants you to hate yourself.

P.S.: I’m a miserable person to watch movies with. 🙂

Santino J. Rivera is an Indie Publisher and Author @ Broken Sword Publications

[EDITOR’S NOTE: No Alien film is a true Alien film without Sigourney Weaver in her skivvies. True fact.]