The Intruder marks the latest edition in the predictable suspense genre perpetuated by attractive non-white actors. The film casts Meagan Good as Annie, a leading yet color blind role alongside a similarly colorless Michael Ealy who plays her husband, Scott. They play a young couple seeking to start a new chapter of their lives and marriage outside of the city. However, their purchase, a large home in Napa, comes at a cost. Charlie, a middle-aged white man, embodies this cost. Charlie, the home’s original owner, appears to give Scott and Annie a reasonable price for the large property; however, Charlie never actually leaves the house he sells to the young couple.
The film proves an allegory for racialized space. In Audre Lorde’s essay “The Master’s Tools,” Lorde employs a house to symbolize the systemic paradigm white hegemony constructs, and uses tools to represent its various manifestations. The house in The Intruder represents a colonized white space that encompasses both white sin and white status. Charlie’s house symbolizes his status but also houses his sin. The sin, viewers learn, is that Charlie murdered his wife, a white woman, who sought to take his house. This failed acquisition on the part of Charlie’s late wife places white male anxiety as a catalyst for thwarting a feminist agenda. Charlie’s late wife attempted to very upward mobility Scott and Annie seek in attempting to purchase Charlie’s home, yet Scott and Annie’s move into Charlie’s home actualizes their movement into a white hegemonic core. This transition disrupts the upward mobility narrative that many falsely believe carries the systemically disenfranchised away from their oppression. Instead, the film depicts blacks who adopt this ideology as becoming further immersed into systemic oppression through what appears to be an upward climb. For this reason, the film illustrates a unique intrusion represents in both praxis and theory.
Though Scott and Annie do illustrate a unique form of invasion, the Intruder in the movie is not Charlie. Scott and Annie, colorblind roles brought to life by black actors, represent intrusion, not inclusion. Inclusion would reflect tasks that take into account the black experience. Intrusion marks imposing a white hegemonic agenda onto a black body at the expense of black personhood. Hollywood, like the many institutions that compose the Americas, have implemented initiatives that only appear to revise its overtly racist origins. Now, as seen in films like When the Bough Breaks, and Collateral Beauty, black actors more avidly appear in starring roles, but not as black people. Specifically, Hollywood employs physical blackness as a means to superficially encompass diversity in image without bothering to include variety in script or characterization. This act functions stealthily for the viewer just seeking to see his or her reflection and encompasses a violent invisibility that foreshadows a colorless world that creatively implements a racist methodology.
Another important dynamic that the film illustrates, is the white male pursuing a second chance or second life through the black male. Charlie, who murders his estranged wife, loses his children and his business as well. He seeks to rebuild his life through Scott, a black man who possesses a promise that he no longer does. Scott, in this instance, represents the black space white realtors seek to perpetuate white hegemonic power. These investments prove a means for white franchisement by abudting black spaces to rebuild their lives. It is also worth mentioning that Charlie wishes to replace Scott in a life he has built with Annie, a black woman. Annie, initially unaware of just how much anger and danger lies beneath Charlie’s seemingly innocuous behavior, encompasses a means for Charlie to reappropriate his white masculinity in the contemporary climate. Here, I reference the number of white men who exude their white hegemonic placement in interracial relationships with black women. These relationships convey a dynamic identical to Hollywood’s relationship with black actors. Notably, in these interracial relationships, the white male appears to appreciate black people and culture, just as Hollywood appears to appreciate blackness through what seems to be inclusion. However, these white men, like Hollywood, intrude on the black narrative by using the black body, or blackness in general, to appropriate a common white agenda manifested in individual solicitation of black bodies.
It is the coercion to ignore what makes us different that makes this solicitation successful. In her essay “The Master’s Tools,” Audre Lorde confronts the white hegemonic pedagogy that instructs the oppressed to adopt this dangerous ideology. She writes: “we have been taught either to ignore our differences or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change” (Lorde 112). Though Lorde speaks specifically of women in her prose, this statement proves true for the black collective. Blacks are too often subject to the idea that we must ignore our blackness to enable progress. This statement ignores that the western world literally burned blackness as a pejorative contruct into our flesh. To ignore our blackness because it is inconvenient to our oppressors does not change anything, it merely neuters our collective power. Lorde goes on to bluntly state that “ the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about positive change” (Lorde 112). The Intruder illustrates this very dynamic, as Ealy and Good personify the master’s tools as black actors in a colorblind roles, and characters Scott and Annie illustrate this dynamic as black people seeking upward mobility by acquiring a white man’s space in a white country. The coupled performance Scott and Annie/Ealy and Good provide both on and off the big screen appear to beat the master at his own game. However, though Ealy and Good appear to hone leading roles in a widely distributed film, and Scott and Annie kill Charlie, they commonly embody the master’s tools whose actions paint the master’s house white. Scott and Annie, like the black actors who portray them, remain lost in a labyrinth of white supremacy who culminate the master’s victory in believing they attained a freedom they never truly attempted.