USA Today Slammed For “Race Themed” Headline About “The Best Man Holiday
USA Today set off a social media storm Sunday with a headline on its box-office story that many found racially insensitive.
“‘Holiday’ Nearly Beat ‘Thor’ as Race-Themed Films Soar” was the original headline that the publication put up online and sent out on Twitter. Universal’s romantic comedy sequel from writer-director Malcolm D. Lee did surprisingly well with $30.5 million this weekend, as it debuted against the Marvel superhero sequel, which took in $38.4 million.
When that headline drew a blast of complaints, it was soon changed to “‘Holiday’ Nearly Beats ‘Thor’ as Ethnically Diverse Films Soar.” The original tweet was deleted, too.
Most of the complaints struck a similar chord.
USA Today tried to pour water on the fire by changing the title, but the damage was already done.
The story also made mention of the box-office success of “Fruitvale Station” and “The Butler,” two films that also had predominantly African American casts.
Even after the headline was switched, it was still catching heat.
“Changing it from ‘race-themed’ to ‘diverse’ doesn’t make it any less stupid,” tweeted Michelle Tran.
A call to a USA Today seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned, but the messages seemed to be hitting home. The headline was changed a second time.
Ultimately, it read: “Best Man Holiday’ Nearly Beats Mighty ‘Thor.’”
Tsk, tsk, tsk, USA Today. Aside from the title, the most incendiary part of the article was the tone of shocked that a film with a majority black cast could actually be profitable.
But the story of the weekend was Holiday, a sequel that arrived 14 years after the original, sported a budget of just $17 million and was marketed specifically to African-American women. Holiday collected $30.6 million, more than twice what many analysts projected.
Other films with predominantly black casts have been hot sellers at the turnstiles this year. Fruitvale Station, the $900,000 real-life drama about a black Bay Area man shot to death by transit officers, has done $16 million. And Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the $30 million true story of a black White House butler, was the box-office surprise of summer at $115 million.