The Black Guy Always Dies First (except when he doesn’t)
It is perhaps the most common stereotype in horror film culture. You constantly hear that “the black guy dies first.” I had never really thought about it before, but recently a friend asked me WHY the black guy always dies first. After a brief period of trying to discover the answer to that question, I realized that the answer is very obvious…The black guy doesn’t always die first. In fact, the black guy RARELY dies first and sometimes he even survives the entire film.
The only modern horror film I can think of where the black guy actually does die first is Scream 2, which even pokes fun at the stereotype and has an African-American male (with a much larger role) that survives the entire series. This is also a bad example because it’s not the token black guy that dies, his African-American girlfriend gets killed too. Not only do most horror movies not kill off the token minority first, they even survive a lot of the time.
Since the horror community is frequently becoming more and more accepting of minorities (not that it ever wasn’t), the “token” minority is hardly token these days. There are often multiple African-American characters in this generation’s horror films.
You’re still probably rolling your eyes at me but, seriously, African-American characters outlive other characters way more often that you’re lead to believe through genre jokes.
Here’s a list of movies where the “token black guy” doesn’t die immediately, but still bites it near the end: The Cabin in the Woods, Final Destination 2, Final Destination 5, Friday the 13th (2009), Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Night of the Living Dead (1968 & 1990), Saw, Saw II, Saw IV, Scream 4, and many others.
Now here’s a list of horror movies where an African-American man survives the entire events of the film: Anaconda, Child’s Play 3, Dawn of the Dead (1978 & 2004), The Faculty, Halloween: Resurrection (sorry for bringing it up), Halloween: H20, Prom Night (2008), The House on Haunted Hill (1999), Night of the Demons (1986), Scream 2, Stephen King’s IT (miniseries, but close enough), Urban Legend (a black women survives. Take that, inequality!), Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, and many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting.
Point proven. Like most stereotypes in horror films, this one is completely false. Hopefully this misconception and all of the tired jokes that come along with it will die out and people will realize the truth…but I wouldn’t bet on it.
- Blair Hoyle