It's hard not to get fist-pumpingly excited for "Red Tails," the 2012 George Lucas film about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. (Executive producer: Aaron McGruder, "Boondocks" cartoonist!)
As with any historical film, surely people smarter than me will question how realistic it was. It's hard to depict racism in the 1940s without using our 2011 sensibilities and language, which can make films ring false. (I'm already wondering whether World War II army men really gathered in a circle to shout inspirational slogans like football players do, as shown in the trailer.) But forget that for a minute: This is the TUSKEGEE AIRMEN we're talking about, those legendary African-American combat pilots who served as bomber escorts and either never lost a bomber or lost very few, depending on whose report you're going by. They deserve an inspirational Hollywood film. They deserve to have their story known and honored by kids who'd never pick up a history book, and this film will do that.
I had the honor of meeting Tuskegee Airman and Lt. Col. Lee Archer twice before he died in 2010, once at the Oshkosh AirVenture air show and once at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. He was an amazing man in an amazing group of men. “I flew 169 combat missions when most pilots were flying 50," he told the Chicago Tribune. "When I came back to the U.S. and down that gangplank, there was a sign at the bottom: 'Colored Troops to the Right, White Troops to the Left.' "
The "Red Tails" trailer promises to live up to the Airmen's legacy. It's a perfect Hollywood story — courage, patriotism, racism, the overcoming of odds, and the war we can't get enough of. And it's got me counting the days till it hits theaters.
Do you like seeing American history in films, or do you feel Hollywood always gets it wrong? What's your favorite WW II film? Let's discuss on Facebook.