Tell me if you’ve heard this before. You’re watching television, and during the commercials, a PSA appears about how there are children starving in an African nation. (Sometimes they also have children from South America and Southeast Asia.) You see pictures of poor children malnourished living in extreme poverty and harsh environmental conditions. Who’s there pleading with you to sponsor those children? A white person from the West, every single time.
But this white savior tripe of a trope isn’t just limited to commercials or infomercials. It’s a constant theme in Hollywood. Benevolent, altruistic white people dedicated in saving the lives of poor people of color in any part of the world because apparently they are too helpless or too backward to help themselves. How many movies do you know of that have this theme?
This theme reeks of white privilege. The white savior industrial complex, as coined by Teju Cole, is strong in the Western media invoking Western policies within targeted areas inviting modern versions of imperialism. Evidently, there is no end in sight as long as Western privileged whites are behind the camera. Whites have to be at the center of any mission or movement to save the people of nations devastated by European colonial rule and imperialism which are pleasant terms as opposed to ‘invasion’ and ‘racial oppression’. Whatever you call it, it is never mentioned. That is what helps ease their latent historically based guilt and shame, and that explains why it never gets old. It exists to make whites feel good about being privileged, and white folks love it like a fat kid loving doughnuts.
It is an insulting complex because it recycles racist myths of the inferiority of people of color while lifting the esteems of whites. It also avoids any and all nonwhites, especially those within those areas, who are actually putting in work. And lastly, it’s one big, fat, stinkin’ lie. The West doesn’t care about African nations unless they can benefit them through white-owned institutions and corporations who profit from it.
That is where this video comes in. It is a humorous response to the white savior industrial complex. It is almost four minutes of a perfectly constructed middle finger to Western sentimentality towards countries they take part in destroying. Although, some people may not understand the gist of this video. That is a symptom of being privileged.