Morgan Freeman: America’s “Spiritual Presence-in-Chief”
May 1, 2009
just finished researching and writing a long essay on a two decade-old
phenomenon in which the film image of African American males has improved
dramatically. It now rivals that of white males, who outnumber blacks by about
seven to one. (We might also mention that it was white males who ruled and
largely built the nation we know as America.) Like others, I do not believe this
process has “just happened.” Rather, I believe it is the result of a determined
effort of elites to displace whites—especially males—from positions of status
and power, if not to eliminate them altogether.
There are various names for the ideology of the elite. Some call it “political
correctness.” Others call it “Cultural Marxism.” But the labels don’t matter as
long as one understands what is going on: the ruling elites are waging a
cultural and racial war against Western values, Western civilization, and
particularly Western man, i.e., the white man. In the name of the feel-good
mantras of diversity and multiculturalism, all the values of traditional white
civilization have been declared bad and everything opposed to them declared
good. Every idea, attitude, and institution that protects the white race and
promotes its continued existence is being destroyed, as a precondition for the
physical destruction of the race itself. No arena of life is spared this
agenda’s icy grip. Every movie, television show, news story, book, and sermon
must advance it, under the watchful eye of an army of censors and snitches
demanding unyielding fidelity to the agenda. No argument or evidence is allowed
to challenge it.
(For those so interested, William Lind’s Who Stole Our Culture adds further useful discussion.)
As my main area of academic research is film and its influence on society, I am
naturally interested in the changing portrayals of various ethnic, racial, and
gender groups in American society. Toward this end, my recent research involved
the image of the noble black man, or, as Richard Brookhiser dubs him,
Brookhiser tells us that the word ‘numinous’ is a Roman term for "the presiding
divinity . . . of a place." It also means "spiritually elevated." According to
Brookhiser, the Numinous Negro presides over America, “and contact with him
elevates us spiritually.” The most obvious example comes in the person of Morgan
Freeman in films such as The Shawshank
Redemption, Deep Impact (U.S. president) and
Bruce Almighty, where he plays, well,
God. Though Brookhiser adds that “the Numinous Negro need not be a man — Toni
Morrison and Oprah are Numinous Negroes (Ms. Morrison is a seer; Oprah is a
sage)” — the vast majority of recent films featuring the Numinous Negro star
male characters. I’ve already written about
another excellent example of the genus.
Morgan Freeman Expressing his Numinosity as God in
God in Bruce Almighty
Previously, I had done more work on the films of Washington than those of Morgan Freeman, so my latest essay saw me delving into the filmography of Mr. Freeman. Though I’ve emphasized how positive the Hollywood version of the Numinous Negro has become, even I was surprised by how extensive Freeman’s oeuvre is in that respect.
My general understanding was that Freeman’s public emergence as a Numinous Negro
came in 1989 as the aw-shucks chauffeur in
Driving Miss Daisy and was cemented
by his role as the redeemed prisoner in
The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Of course, film critics point out the irony
that the tall Tennessean’s first big role in film was as the cruel pimp Fast
Black in Street Smart (1987), for
which he was nominated Best Supporting Actor. This exception aside, the point
remains that Freeman’s characters have marched in lockstep with the
multicultural ideology that increasingly elevates blacks in the American
I could easily go on to describe how by 1998, when Freeman played the role of kindly U.S. President in Deep Impact, his film persona was fixed as the intelligent moral center of each of his films. Steve Sailer, the film critic for The American Conservative and VDARE’s special Sunday columnist, aptly dubs Freeman America’s “Spiritual Presence-in-Chief.” Just go to the Wikipedia page on Freeman’s filmography to confirm this.
For example, a year after The Shawshank
Redemption, he played brilliant police mentor to Brad Pitt’s rash character
in Seven, followed by his role as
savant Dr. Alex Cross, a forensic psychologist, in
Kiss the Girls. Having written tomes
on the psychology of (presumably white) serial killers, he is unusually expert
in following ambiguous clues. Freeman reprised his role as Dr. Cross in
Along Came a Spider (2001), where
once again Cross is an agent of deliverance to a young white woman.
In The Sum of All Fears, Freeman
played Director of Central Intelligence to Ben Affleck’s young white
Jack Ryan character
(is anyone noticing a pattern here?) A year later, in 2003, Freeman appeared as
God in Bruce Almighty (the 2007
sequel was Evan Almighty).
The following year saw Freeman team up with Clint Eastwood in the drama Million Dollar Baby, where Freeman won Best Supporting Actor for his performance as former prize fighter Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris, a washed up, blind-in-one-eye boxer who manages to get by with a job as janitor at a local gym.
While Freeman’s main persona in Hollywood films is that of the wise and kindly mentor, generally to the young white star, in Batman Begins (2005) he is also elevated to the pinnacle of technological sophistication. Playing Lucius Fox, he is a scientist in biochemistry and mechanical engineering, supplying Bruce Wayne with the fabulous equipment he needs as a flying crime fighter. (He reprises the role in the 2008 sequel The Dark Knight.)
(Steve Sailer unravels the opening
in Batman Begins, referring to the
opening murder of Bruce’s parents: “As an old Chicagoan, I can assure you that
one aspect of Batman Begins is
standard-issue Hollywood hokum: the murderous mugger is blond. Blond bad guys
are a lot more common in movies and television than in real life.”)
I could go on, but this is a mere website column, not a book. After all, by 1995
Freeman was starring in about two films a year, increasing to an average of
three by 2005. In any case, my attention during my research turned in the other
direction, to what Freeman had been doing in the decades prior to his Hollywood
stardom. My discovery there was a surprise.
Freeman did not simply emerge fully formed as a great actor in the late 1980s.
Rather, he honed his skills as a main character on the children’s educational
The Electric Company,
which was a product of
Television Workshop and ran on the Public Broadcasting Service.
Clearly, this was a concerted effort at social engineering, following as it did
the earlier success of
Funds came from the usual cast of liberal suspects, such as the
of New York, The
Corporation For Public
Broadcasting, and the
Office of Education,
U.S. Department of
Health, Education, and Welfare. Both
Sesame Street and
The Electric Company were the very
models for what was to become multiculturalism in America, introducing the
tolerant cast of mixed races and genders that later became the official norm
throughout the country, as NASA did with space shuttle astronauts, etc. etc.
Freeman’s roles included Easy Reader, a “smooth hipster who loved to read at every opportunity and every printed thing he saw.” (Ironically, in the 1989 Academy Award-winning film Driving Miss Daisy, Freeman’s character was originally illiterate.) He also did Mel Mounds, a hip disc jockey who introduced songs, where his signature phrase was "Sounds righteous, delightious, and out-of-sighteous! Heavy, heavy!" Vincent the Vegetable Vampire was another of his roles.
Morgan Freeman: Before the Numinosity — The Vegetable Vampire
Morgan Freeman: Before the Numinosity — The Vegetable Vampire
So for most of the Seventies, millions of American children were made to feel
comfortable watching a dark African American with an afro sing ditties and spell
words. Then, over a decade later, when he had aged and his hair grayed somewhat,
he becomes America’s “Presence-in-Chief.” Interesting.
Morgan Freeman: Before the Numinosity — The 'Fro Years
Morgan Freeman: Before the Numinosity — The 'Fro Years
I may be reading too much into this, but the whole process reminds me of what
author Jeff Gates discusses in his new book
by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War.
(I reviewed it
On matters far more serious than spelling, Gates outlines a strategy where a
target audience is prepared for accepting future beliefs. This “preparing the
minds” allows a displacement of facts with beliefs. The result is that the
audience can be manipulated by inducing self-deceit, and pop culture plays a
While I don’t believe that back in 1971 someone consciously set out to prepare
Morgan Freeman to be, say, Dr. Alex Cross the brilliant psychologist, it would
still be true that his appearances on The
Electric Company succeeded in “laying the mental threads” of the image of a
helpful and non-threatening black man.
What I am talking about, then, is sophisticated propaganda. One of my favorite
accounts of the effects of propaganda come from Jacques Ellul’s ground-breaking
Formation of Men's Attitudes, where he states that
once the individual has been filled with and reshaped by propaganda, the
smallest dose now suffices. It is enough to ‘refresh,’ to give a ‘booster shot,’
to repaint, and the individual behaves in striking fashion — like certain drunks
who become intoxicated on one glass of wine. The individual no longer offers any
resistance to propaganda; moreover, he has ceased to believe in it consciously.
He no longer attaches importance to what it says, to its proclaimed objectives,
but he acts according to the proper stimuli. The individual is arrested and
crystallized with regard to his thinking.
An obvious example, used by Gates and many others, is the propagation of the
media image of a threatening Arab. Using our
Electric Company illustration, we see
that even that “educational” show featured a stereotype of the evil Arab. As
media scholar Jack Shaheen tells us in his study
Arab, there was a character known as the evil Spell Binder, “a
short, grubby-looking villain who resembles those turbanned Arabs in the
escapist Arabian Nights’ films of the fifties and sixties.” (He also notes that
most other children’s shows had negative images of Arabs, too—Popeye,
Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo, Speed Racer, Tennessee Tuxedo, Jonny Quest . . .)
Shaheen is wise to point to the selective framing of Arabs and the repetition of
that framing. “You cannot deny the reality—there are people who really want to
kill Americans. But those are basically the only images we see." Naturally, such
repetition has a goal, one captured in an old Arabic saying: “Al
tikrar biallem il hmar. By repetition even the donkey learns.”
The donkey in this case is presumably the American people, who, as we all know,
are pliable to sustained manipulation.
The real world consequences of Hollywood’s image of Morgan Freeman is obvious:
We have our first black president. Given the long history of depicting black
presidents as “calm,
earnest, utterly decent and way, way cooler than white presidents,”
who is surprised at this outcome?
Freeman continues apace in his work. Rumor has it that he has long wanted to do
a film based on
Mandela. Now that dream has come true, as Freeman again works
with Clint Eastwood, who will direct the Mandela bio-pic titled
Human Factor. Tough guy Clintwood used to stand for the
average white man, but lately he’s gone multicultural on us, especially with his
in which he mentors a Hmong youth. Thus, I suspect that watching Freeman as hero
Nelson Mandela will not exactly make my day.
Edmund Connelly is a freelance writer, academic, and expert on the cinema arts. He has previously written for The Occidental Quarterly.