Oliver Stone 9/11 Film "World Trade Center" Draws Anger from Prominent Black Professor

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Dr. Boyce Watkins, a well-known Syracuse University Professor, states that Oliver Stone's crew for the film "World Trade Center" was professionally irresponsible by mistakenly portraying a key black character as a white man.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of "What if George Bush were a Black Man?" is outraged by the recently released film "World Trade Center", directed by Oliver Stone. The film, focused on events during September 11, 2001, inaccurately portrays two of the key characters as white instead of black. One of them is a major part of the story, former Marine Jason L. Thomas, played by Nicolas Cage. The second is Bruce Reynolds, a New York City Police Officer.

Producer Michael Shamberg has stated that "by the time we discovered he's black we had already been in production for a day and it was too late to do anything about it."

Dr. Watkins, who has discussed social justice issues on shows such as Hannity & Colmes, ESPN and The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, finds Shamberg's explanation to be shaky and problematic. "These guys spend millions researching their story before making films," says Watkins. "You would expect someone to at least look at the guy's picture. Right now, Oliver Stone films have very little credibility in my mind."

Dr. Watkins states that this "oversight" by the filmmakers is reflective of a larger problem in American society. Many in the majority, according to Watkins, tend to see whites as heroes and people of color as victims or perpetrators. "The same thing occurred during the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina," says Watkins, who is a visiting Scholar with the Center for European Economic Research. "In most media portrayals of Katrina, the victims were black and the heroes were almost always white. This was also the essence of movies such as 'Amistad' and 'A Time to Kill'".

Watkins doesn't buy the idea that this was simply an oversight, and feels that it may have been deliberate on the part of filmmakers. "I am not sure if the producers felt that a white audience would identify well with a black main character," says Watkins. "I am not sure if Stone, a guy who seemed to memorize the shoe size of John F. Kennedy, would have overlooked the ethnicity of one of his most critical characters. That is like not knowing that he was in a wheelchair or that he was really tall. Either someone is lying or they are downright irresponsible."

Dr. Boyce D. Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He is also the author of "What if George Bush were a Black Man?". For more information, please visit http://www.blackmanbush.com.

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