World War Z left a bitter taste in my mouth

I am sure a lot has been written about World War Z already since the movie is kinda old news. However, I didn’t google the critics because I’m really not interested in them, I just wanted to talk about how I felt not how critics saw this or that. I only saw the movie a couple of days ago and yeah, still cannot shake the bad taste in my mouth.

If you haven’t seen the movie but plan to watch it, it might be a good idea to stop reading this as there will be some [minor] spoilers from here on. The movie is not bad, per se. In the sense that cinematographically speaking it’s OK. Zombies, a plague, a hero, the usual. But there was this super tangential character, the Latino little boy and yeesh, can a movie be more symbolic of the way we collectively view children of color? I mean, the purpose of the entire Latin@ family was for the white people to find shelter, food, accommodation and protection. It is made abundantly clear that this is an immigrant family (the parents only speak Spanish, they live in a poor home, etc). When their purpose as “aid” was over, they die, because really, for storytelling purposes, the narrative device represented by this family, was no longer needed. Except the little boy survives and gets to tag along with Brad Pitt and his family, which is, of course, precious, and the two little white girls have plenty of feelings and emotions and they get to express them and they get to be cuddled and loved and cherished and their emotions are extensively shown and taken care of by the adults in their lives. And the little Latino boy who lost everyone in his life, whose life, unlike the lives of the little white girls that get all the love is now gone, destroyed, that little boy? He gets nothing. He gets a cursory good bye when the hero needs to venture into the zombie plagued world but not a single acknowledgment of his grief or his pain or the fact that you know, he just lost his entire family and his world is gone.

And that broke my heart more than movies should because I should truly be accustomed to the fact that the vast majority of pop culture sucks. But this hit close to home in the sense that this is the way children of color are really viewed: as a narrative device to highlight the white hero’s humanity when it is needed and as a mere unperson with no feelings or emotions deserving of love and care. And what broke my heart even further is that when these children die in the real world, in the world we inhabit, when these children or their families are killed not by a fantasy zombie plague but by structural inequalities created by real human beings, this is the footprint that the world at large uses to evaluate the importance of those deaths or the grief that those deaths bring. This little boy is pop culture’s stand in for all our children. He is the stand in for Cherice Morales and the judge who, even in death, had the gall to consider her “older than her chronological age”. He is a stand in for the children whose parents die as a result of being undocumented immigrants. He is a stand in for children that are subjected to unspeakable acts of violence (sometimes even resulting in their own death) and who get neither justice nor an acknowledgement of their pain or their emotions. This child, whose only purpose was to serve as emotional support for the white hero and his daughters was not deserving of his own feelings, his own grief or honoring of his suffering.

Which you know, what I take from this movie is probably not what the filmmakers intended. What I take is that if you are a child of color, it’s not just zombies that can shatter your life.

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