The author, Noah Berlatsky, seems to think that telling a true story about how a free black man was sold into slavery and then eventually rescued through the help of a white Canadian is a bad idea. Why? Because it furthers the "White Savior" theme.
The primary problem with Berlatsky's article is that the black character at issue was, in fact, assisted by white men in gaining his freedom. Therefore, I guess, the author's position is that the movie should never have been made, or (as some of the on-line commenters suggested in jest) that the facts should have just been changed so that the delivery from slavery was achieved by a slave revolt, or by a free black man, or an Asian, or a Native American, or a woman -- something more politically correct. Just change the facts of what happened so as not to give ANY credit to ANY white person. Maybe a visitor from Mars could have simply swooped down at the end, or a racially-changed Stewie Griffin could have taken his time travel return pad to Louisiana and then gone back the 12 years to prevent the initial kidnapping?
The second problem with the article is that Noah Berlatsky apparently hasn't seen 12 Years a Slave. There are numerous "White Saviors" who might be identified as such. Brad Pitt's character Bass appears for around 10 minutes. He does not want to help; he is scared. He agrees to help, then you never see him again - not when the main character is rescued, not when the main character is reunited with his family, never. If he is the "White Savior" of the movie, then the director obviously does not understand how to work that theme. There were obviously other white people who were involved in the rescue - the guy who came down from New York with the "free man" papers, the sheriff, the lawyers in New York and Louisiana, some judge who ordered the sheriff to proceed in some manner. These folks enjoy even LESS screen time (the lawyers and the judge - none) and none is even called by their full name.
Finally, Noah Berlatsky apparently did not stay until the end of the film. In the text shown on screen at the end, it clearly states that the main character recovers nothing in the courts for his ordeal. The court system (presumably white) fucks him over, largely because he is black (example, he is not allowed to testify in D.C. against a white man). So, even after the escape from slavery, white people and their systems continue to punish him for being black. And.......this is a "White Savior" movie?
The worst thing about this sort of White Guilt writing is that, if adopted by the extremely liberal Academy Awards voters, it will result in the horrible tragedy of "12 Years" losing out to the very mediocre "American Hustle" because "12 Years" is simply not "black enough" or "liberal enough." I guess we are all supposed to know that all white people are evil, and any movie that portrays any white person as helpful to blacks is obviously a lie. So let's give the Oscar to a film with great wigs and costumes and only minor errors (like references to a 2004 book, a country that did not exist in 1978, and a story about ice fishing in Michigan in OCTOBER OR NOVEMBER!!!)
Wow. Go see 12 Years a Slave, judge for yourself.