Black.White

Black.White, Ice Cube’s reality TV project, draws equal inspiration from the Saturday Night Live skit where Eddie Murphy dons white make-up to spoof the benefits White society enjoys in America as it does from John Howard Griffin's social experiment to transform himself into a Blackman for a tour through the American south, captured in his controversial classic Black Like Me. Cube and partners R.J. Cutler and Matt Alvarez take the idea a few steps further by having a Black family (Brian and Renee Sparks and their 16-year-old son Nick) and a White family (Bruno and Carmen Wurgel and their 17-year-old daughter Rose) move into a house for five weeks and undergo exhausting daily make-up sessions in order to experience life on the other side of the racial fence. This concept allows for six very different personal perspectives covering the ground from Nick’s discovery of his roots to Bruno’s unchanged, blinkered view of prejudice and everything in between. Rose’s heartbreaking awakening through her experience with a slam poetry group is especially enlightening. Black.White can be funny, sad and even infuriating. The six episodes make for entertaining, enjoyable viewing but more importantly, the show is guaranteed to create discussion, and possibly a change of perception, amongst those who watch. A rare and relevant reality show different from its brethren, Black.White’s significant social agenda is interested in more than just spotlighting the stupid and/or famous, seeking instead to change the world for the better. And with the addition of the study guides on the DVD, it’s also a great tool for in-class learning and debate. As well, the first three episodes contain commentary from different pairings of members from each family (the two fathers, mothers and teens) moderated by R.J. Cutler, who gets the cast discussing their thoughts both pre and post production; the next three episodes have Cutler moderating with the make-up artists, the editors and the co-executive producer, Keith Hoffman. All six commentaries give even greater insight into the project. A powerful, well-orchestrated production, Black.White is entertaining but shouldn’t be overlooked as also an exceptional educational tool. (Fox)