In the horror genre, this rule is normally pursued vigorously, as the Black person in the movie is of minor concern to the overall plot of the story. Having the antagonist of the film quickly kill off the Black person is a constructive way to make the viewer automatically lose all sympathy toward the villain.
The preponderance of Magical Negroes in film has assured the conditioning of movie-goers into believing all Black characters possess the innate ability to impact the hero/heroine positively, thus the sudden decimation of the Black character is grounds for instantaneous animosity toward the movie monster.
Black characters provide comic relief, for their all-too-brief time on the screen. Appearing to deliver a few stereotypical Black lines and enhance the compulsory diversity to the film, the Black character is the most easily disposable.
The demise of the Black character is highly memorable; normally the introducing the bad guy of the film in a most gory manner and helping setting the stage for the carnage that will inevitably ensue.
So in manner of speaking, the Black character is incredibly important to the overall film, their death signifying to the viewer that the movie is beginning to enter the actual noteworthy moments of the narrative.
Black Horror Movies (Blackhorrormovies.com) is Web site devoted to tracking and educating people on this cinematic phenomenon:
"No way. I've seen this movie. The black dude dies first."
-Professor Harry Phineas Block (Orlando Jones), Evolution
"Ooh, I'm done! Brothers never make it out of situations like this!"
-Sherman "Preacher" Dudley (LL Cool J), Deep Blue Sea
"Did you know that the black guy doesn't always die first?"
-sinister email, The Mangler 2
"Everybody knows black guys get it first in horror movies. It's like Horror Films 101."
-Elvis (Raymond Novarro Smith), Bloody Murder 2
So you're watching a horror movie when he comes on screen. He could be a jock, a nerd, or a smelter in a haunted copper factory, but you just know he's gonna wind up on the short end of the meat hook. Why? Because he's black. You feel guilty for thinking it, but this scenario is so recognizable that it's become a joke. In fright films, being black has become as much a kiss of death as having sex, doing drugs, or saying, "Is anyone there?"
How many potential Fictional Black History Month Heroes have been unfairly snuffed out early in a film thanks to the strict and rigid application of this unwritten rule?
The illustrious list of Black thespians who have died in films is long and distinguished but demonstrates the sheer disposability of the characters they played.
Integral to the story only because of the significance their death entails, Black characters are begrudgingly one-dimensional and undeveloped. It is only in the pleas for help and agonizing final seconds of their screen time that the viewer feels any emotion for them.
In horror films, Black actors need only two things: Their Blackness and the ability to die. Some Black characters do survive films, but these brave and lucky souls are the exception to the unwritten rule.
Sadly, there is no truth to the rumor that Black people being loud at movies began when they would attempt to implore the Black character about to meet a grim ending to "go the other away" or "look out behind you."
The moral of the story is that Black characters are incredibly unimportant to the movies success, with only a handful of bankable Black stars in Hollywood that can be called upon to carry a film to profitability.
Easily disposable, the Black character’s involvement in film is a mere formality that eerily mirrors real-life Black people’s existence. Life is cheap in the proverbial ghetto, where Black-on-Black crime is shockingly more prevalent then the Black character dying first in a movie.
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes dying first in film. Is this unwritten rule a parody of Black life in the ghetto, an acknowledgment by Hollywood of the propensity for Black people to be deplorably denied a full and rich life by Black hands or is it just a re-occurring theme because the Black character has so little impact on the overall story?