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White Man's Burden can't carry its flawed premise

Yet without context--without an understanding of why all the black people in the film are acting like white people--this tale of switched skins won't stand. White Man's Burden has little else to offer besides its basic gimmick: no guts, religion, spirit, empathy, passion, or worth beyond the "what-if" dinner musings of powerful people with nothing better to do. And if you can't bring yourself to believe that blacks in power will act like whites in power, then the movie is an aimless journey.

The only provocative point about White Man's Burden is remembering how the other guy's skin color and lot in life meant you could call him "nigger," "spic," "honky," "chink," "pollack," "kike," "WASP," "Jap"...and then, one day, you did. If you buy into the movie's message of "power corrupts, regardless of race," then you admit and honor your racism and classism. You've bought into the American ideal of Manifest Destiny with a damn-the-races, "survival-of-the-fittest" twist.

And maybe that's where the director, who's Japanese-American, is coming from, after all. With all the anti-Japanese sentiment surrounding American business and the backlash against Asian businesses in the African-American community, Nakano's approach to the black race's upheaval seems suspect--or maybe just an assimilated Japanese-American's burden.

White Man's Burden. Savoy Pictures. John Travolta, Harry Belafonte. Written and directed by Desmond Nakano. Now showing.

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