The Secret aint NO secret, in Kells the movie

Hunh?! What?!

Animated film, “The Secret of Kells” (2009), based on the “Book of Kells” was nominated in the 2010 Oscars for it’s beautiful animation.  Actually, for most of the world “The Secret of Kells” would have stayed a “secret” if it was not for the surprise nomination at the Oscars.

I know I’m a bit late on the review..but I just saw the movie. Well, saw enough of the movie to decide that I didn’t want to and couldn’t see the rest.

I planned on enjoying a relaxing Sunday evening, with my children,  watching  animated movies until bed.  First movie..Japanese Anime..Great!  Heard the reviews about “Secret of Kells” and wanted to save the best for last. Unfortunately, I’m a bit confused and upset by what I saw within the first 5 mins. of the film.   “Brother Assoua” mimicked some of  the best of  black stereotypical caricature, that I have seen a while.

“Brother Assoua” the biggest and blackest character in the movie with distinctive lips to match.   Funny, I even  blinked a couple of times, and had to rewind the tape just a bit, to make sure that I was seeing what I thought I saw.

“HOLD UP!!!! Is that Black Face!!!  Oh, no.   I re-winded again and checked out the brother more thoroughly, as well as the other characters.  Hmm..  this “Brother” seems to be the only one with lips. . and not just any lips….HUGE, Red, fat,lips that cover half of his  face.  Actually, the other characters barely had  lips..just thin lines, in different shapes to show expression.

So,  I was left to ponder.  Why did this character have lips so pronounced?  Why was he the only black character? …Why did they even need to include a black character in an Irish movie?  I sure wasn’t expecting to see any.  Lastly, how did this get nominated for an Oscar?  Shouldn’t some alarms have gone off. Did anyone question this?  Moreover, what kind of problem does the nation have if   subjective black-exploitation can be placed in children cartoons and celebrated?

The blatant disrespect to people of color and the lack of  consideration is dis-heartening.  Millions have fought and still fight to end destructive and demeaning racist images.  But, it is no “secret” that “The secret of  Kells,”  demoralizes and devalues any civil rights movement by heightening racial insensitivity.

Take a gander…

Not much difference from previous stereotypical racial caricatures..
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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Neil says:

    News flash, Mantra: Africans of sub-Saharan extraction have bigger lips on average than any other people on earth. Cartoons exaggerate distinctive features. It’s called caricature.

    The reason I can wear a t-shirt bearing a cartoon white male looking like a complete goof, but I cannot wear one of a cartoon black male looking like a complete goof, is that blacks are hypersensitive and insecure. They are hypersensitive and insecure because they have a lot to be hypersensitive and insecure about.

    It even applies to the presidency. It was harmless and funny to depict the despicable clown puppet George W. Bush as a chimpanzee. It is socially absolutely forbidden to depict the despicable clown puppet Barrack H. Obama as a chimpanzee. Why is that? When considered deeply, it’s actually a fascinating question.

    I do, however, strongly agree with the sentiment expressed in one rhetorical question you pose: “Why did they even need to include a black character in an Irish movie?”





    1. mantra says:

      Hey Neil. Thanks for the “News Flash”.

      It’s not about Africans having bigger lips, that’s beautiful and not many people will deny that..that ‘s why silicon injections and lip-plumpers are so profitable.
      The issue is not that blacks are “hypersensitive”..or “insecure” for that matter. But, there is reason to object to societal degradation. This is history, and when the origin of such propaganda took place, Africans (Blacks) were not in a position to fight back. There should be strong objections to portrayals like this from all races..not just people of color. It’s not funny in any shape or fashion. I never thought that it was harmless or funny to depict George Bush as a chimpanzee, even though I believe he is quite impish. He was the leader of a nation, to demoralize him or any other president would be destructive to the people in which he was to head. It’s about respect and simple consideration. Come on… what’s wrong with a little sensitivity? It’s not taking anything away, actually it would create better human beings.

      “Brother Assoua” was a useless and senseless character in this movie.. a little more thought should have been brought to the production table.



  2. --MC says:

    I had exactly the same reaction to the film you did. I sat down to watch it, and within minutes was punching it back out of the DVD player …

    I appreciate that the filmmakers wanted to be inclusive, and have a black character in the film — there was an Italian monk as well — maybe they were trying for some kind of brotherhood message. But they sunk their intentions with that bad character design.

    It’s been a bad week for me film-wise; I tried to watch “Under The Volcano”, the John Huston movie, earlier in the week, and the second character in was a cringing, servile Mexican cafe owner who said “I theeenk“. “You no wear the no socks, Senor, I theeeeeeeenk.”


    1. mantra says:

      Hey MC,
      I totally agree. It’s seems crazy that there are still so many negative racial stereotypes within the movie industry. It’s just ridiculous.

      I haven’t seen “Under the Volcano” but thanks for the heads up; it’s definitely not something I’ll be watching.


  3. Anonymous says:

    I was really looking forward to seeing this movie but so shocked by the depiction of the black monk. Neil, your comments are insensitive and just plain mean. I can’t believe these independent artists who do such beautiful work could have been so culturally insensitive and racist. 😦 So disappointing as I love their work in general. I am baffled and feeling a sense of loss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anonymous says:

      You should absolutely still see this movie. It’s a beautiful piece of art that I’ve always enjoyed through every rewatch, there are always more things to discover. Cultural insensitivity is certainly a fault of the movie, but it is not a fault that overrides the entire movie’s messages, themes, and beauty. It’s always off-putting to me when journalists or bloggers focus on the negatives of a piece of art so heavily that it blots out every positive, even when those positives would normally pull the weight of those negatives. Criticism is welcome, but sensationalism is another thing altogether.

      Liked by 1 person

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