New Movie Claims White People Are The ‘Most Dangerous Animal’ On The Planet, Film Critics And Social Media Users Outraged

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A new film is going viral for its poor reviews, lack of public interest, and horrid box office debut – and it comes just a few months after its controversial trailer caused quite a chaotic scene online. Nonetheless, the director and cast are standing by the film and urge people to give it a chance. 

‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’

The American Society of Magical Negroes is the film no one is watching, yet everyone is talking about. It was written and directed by Kobi Libii (his directorial debut), and stars Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, and An-Li Bogan – among others. 

Source: Wikimedia/Travis Wise

The trailer was released in December, and the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival one month later, on January 19. Focus Features released it on March 15, and it is currently being played in movie theatres across the United States.

What Is The Movie About? 

According to IMDB, the movie tells the story of a young man – named Aren – who is ‘recruited into a secret society of magical Black people who dedicate their lives to a cause of utmost importance: making white people’s lives easier.’

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It satirically explores the ‘Magical Negro’ trope – a term that was popularized by Spike Lee in 2001. It describes a character who often has no past but simply appears one day to help the white protagonist. 

Controversial Trailer Makes White People Angry

The trailer cuts straight to the point – showing Aren (a young black man) getting recruited into a secret society of African-American wizards who have one goal in life – to protect white people from discomfort. 

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At one point in the trailer, Aren is asked what ‘the most dangerous animal on the planet’ is. He replies sharks, but his mentor corrects him: “White people when they feel uncomfortable. White people feeling uncomfortable precedes a lot of bad stuff for us. That’s why we fight White discomfort every day, because the happier they are, the safer we are.”

Poor Box Office Debut Draws Eyes Of Critics

The film was expected to make around $3 million during its opening weekend (between March 15 and 17). Despite being released in 1,146 movie theatres in the US and Canada, it made less than half of its projection. 

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According to Deadline, the film grossed just $520,000 on Friday, $470,000 on Saturday, and $260,000 on Sunday, for a total of $1.25 million on the weekend. For reference, Arthur the King was also released last weekend, and it grossed $3 million on Friday, alone.

Carlos Aguilar Says Movie Was ‘Too Timid’

Carlos Aguilar, a movie critic for the Los Angeles Times and a regular screener for the Sundance Festival, was sympathetic to the political message behind the film – as were most critics – but he felt it failed to deliver.

Source: X/Carlos Aguilar

“The movie’s predictably speechified resolution, with Aren literally taking the stage to speak his truth, finally renders the sociopolitical critique mild and inconsequential, a disappointing outcome for a premise that had the potential to be truly incendiary,” he argued. 

Michael O’Sullivan Describes It As ‘Bloodless Satire’

Michael O’Sullivan, a movie critic who has been writing for The Washington Post for more than 30 years, shared a similar sentiment – an incredible premise that fell short of captivating. Or, in his words, a ‘bloodless satire that’s too eager to please.’

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“In Aren’s satisfying flash of anger, ‘The American Society of Magical Negroes’ briefly gets real. Otherwise, like Aren, the film itself feels overly deferential at times: as if it wants to make people comfortable when it should want to make them squirm, at least a little,” he wrote.

Cast And Director Say Don’t Judge Film Based On Trailer

The film has been facing backlash for several months now. Even back in December, when they released the trailer, one user on X called it ‘the Harry Potter for Woke racists.’ Another X user described it as ‘racist, woke BS’ that ‘only lunatics would want’ to see.

Source: Ninoon from Getty Images via Canva

Source: Ninoon from Getty Images via Canva

Despite the immediate opposition, the cast and director are standing by the film, urging movie lovers to give it a chance instead of judging it based on the trailer. 

Kobi Libii Alludes To Laws Being Passed In Florida

In an interview with NBC News, Kobi Libii (the film’s writer and director) described the ‘expectation that Black people are prioritizing white comfort over our own history and our own sense of self’ as an ‘incredibly contemporary problem.’

Source: X/Kobi Libii

He alluded to a Florida law that was passed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022. The bill banned making white people feel ‘discomfort’ about racist history – which includes making white students feel uncomfortable while talking about Black history in the classroom.

Justice Smith Felt Personal Connection To Film

The main character – played by Justice Smith – felt a personal connection to the film, having grown up in a predominantly-white community. He described himself as a ‘people pleaser’ and described how bad of a recipe that was.

Source: X/Justice Smith

“I had to go on an empowerment journey myself, similar to Aren, and knew that I could lend myself to the story,” Smith said. He’s also known for his work in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (2019), and All the Bright Places (2020).

David Alan Grier Says Movie Is ‘Very Generational’ 

David Alan Grier, who plays Roger (the main character’s mentor), looked at the film through a generational lens. And while he has read what some of the critics are saying about the film, he also sees all the good things people are saying about it.

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“As a kid, all these old dudes were telling me about 1920 and ’30, and I was like, ‘Man, it’s 1963, bro, we’re modern.’ So it’s very generational,” Grier said, adding that his character represents ‘how we used to do it’ when he was younger.

Movie Received Good Response At Sundance

Grier went on to praise the reaction the film received at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, which took place between Jan. 18 and Jan. 28. He recalled various interactions he had with fans, most of whom shared their own stories of enduring microgressions.

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“The reaction at Sundance was amazing,” he said. “I remember mostly women, Black women, coming over and telling me their story of enduring microaggressions and why they chose not to stand up and the guilt that they held.”

Nicole Byer Was Drawn By The Title

Nicole Byer, who plays DeDe in the film, was drawn by the title – which she described as ‘polarizing.’ But it wasn’t until she read the script that she saw how incredible the film was. “I love a big premise, and I love that it wrapped a rom-com in it,” she said.

Source: Wikimedia/The CW Network

Byer is best known as the host of the Netflix comedic reality bake-off series Nailed It!. She has also made several guest appearances in TV shows, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy, 30 Rock, and as a co-host of Wipeout alongside John Cena.

Libii Understands Why People Are Skeptical

In his interview with NBC News, Kobi Libii doubled down on his film. He feels confident that people will find value in the film if they give it a chance – but he also understands why some people might be hesitant to give it that chance.

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“It’s so deeply understandable for Black people to be skeptical of what comes out of Hollywood,” he said. “My hope is that people will see the whole film, which is a much more nuanced and thorough treatment of some of these issues, and then pick up those conversations.”

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Ryan Handson

Written by Ryan Handson

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