A couple who fought to change things (and they got it)
“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” is a Drama which takes place in the USA in the 1960s. The film was made just in the year 1967, when the Supreme Court abolished the laws which still banned interracial marriages in some southern states.
In this social background, 23-year-old Joanna Dreyton returs home from a holiday in Hawaii with her smart fiancé, 38-year-old Dr. John Prentice, who happens to be a negro.
To Joanna’s parents this represents a shock, because, although they had brought her up in the idea that black and white people were equal, they were not really prepared to see their daughter marrying a black man, even though he was the son-in-law any family would fancy for their beloved girl (“We told her it was wrong to believe that white people were superior to black people. But we never added,’ never fall in love with a coloured man’). He was a doctor who was carrying out some really efficient health programme in Africa, which was saving thousands of lives, and was travelling around the world giving lectures about this matter. Not to mention that he was handsome, sensible, gentle and educated.
One of the most surprising reactions is the Draytons' black servant’s, who cannot even believe that a black man can be a doctor and she happens to be the most racist character in the film. -‘I don’t want a man of my own race getting above himself’.
A major point in the film is the coincidence between both fathers and both mothers in their point of view on the marriage. Both mothers appeal to feelings and they support the couple because they are very much in love with each other, whereas the fathers are more worried about the huge difficulties the couple will have to face in a society which has changed their laws, but not the way they think about interracial marriages. - ‘Have you thought what people will say about you? And say they changed the law, that will not change the way people feel about these things.’
On the other hand, it is also basic to highlight the different views of the racial situation between the younger generation and the older generation. Doctor Prentice tells his father,’ you think of yourself as a black man, I think of myself as a man’. The change has started for the young generation and, despite the fact they know they will have to face social contempt, they are optimistic and believe the change cannot be stopped.
Finally, a curious coincidence. Joanna dreamt her son would be president- quite a wonderful mother’s dream. Curiously enough President Barak Obama was born in 1961. A whole generation were fighting for equality, they had faith in it, some black leaders like M. Luther King and lots of other anonymous people were killed for it, and it seems that eventually they reached it.
They lived in a racist society.
They struggled for real equality.
It seems they have finally reached it.