The Odyssey (Greek: Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second oldest extant work of Western literature, the Iliad being the oldest. It is believed to have been composed near the end of the 8th century BC, somewhere in Ionia, the Greek coastal region of Anatolia. -From Wikipedia
The Hero's Journey in Western (nee White) Culture that is the "classic" Hollywood movie plot is clearly defined in Homer's Odyssey. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy has trials and tribulations to conquer before he can win back girl in the end. The base that under-girds all Western Drama - Man Against Man, Man Against Nature, Man Against Himself - drives the action of the story -conflict.
With movies like Lee Daniels' The Butler (which I have not seen at this writing) the hero, the driver of he action is a Butler. And there-in lies the problem. We know that "blacks" in America have had to do some of everything to survive. And have had to overcome all manner of obstacles, challenges that white folks haven't had to do. So their is real "heroism" in every "black" story regardless of a person's "station," because of racism and "white privilege." The black servant is an archetype in movies since their inception and many a black Hollywood star has had to "tom" or "coon" or "mammy" or "buck," in Donald Bogle's terminology.
But my question in 2013, where are the depictions of "the black Odysseus?" Why are there no Epic stories where the hero must set sail from distant shores in one's imagination, conquer the forces of evil then return home triumphant to find his true love waiting for him with open arms and baited breath; all this from a "black" perspective. While using the male form (Hero), the same applies to stories of "black" females (Heroines). History is replete with these stories. But when will they find their way to the Big Screen? There is more to African American existence, real and imagined, than gritty urban dramas, or cross-dressing romantic comedies.
When I was a kid (I'm 65), I could spend hours at the movies, seeing double or triple features and imagine myself as the larger than life characters depicted in those images I saw on the wide screen in Technicolor. Isn't it high time there were big screen images that kids and young adults can want to be, "blacks," particularly?
It's not enough that we have a "black" President we still need those larger than life "black" images, characters "that can leap tall buildings with a single bound."
Walter Harris Gavin is the author of the Epic story of identity -The Autobiography of Obsidian Dumar.