Friday, December 6, 2013

oh, i'm sorry

A couple notes of apology:

First, I recently decided to upgrade Phil's/Groundhog Day's Christ-Figure score because I found the "cross" imagery...

So, that would give him/it a 23/25 on Kozlovic's (2009) scale.

Second, I missed some people yesterday...

But, then there's the third thing. I'm a racist bastard. I mean, I get into this whole thing about the Magic Negro--and no, that's not what makes me racist; I didn't come up with that idea, I just attempted to apply it to Groundhog Day. The racist bit came long ago... I'm not even sure in which entry I first called the barman "God" but I've done it many times since. And, I really don't know why. I mean I see a black guy who just... see, the problem is I want to make a deliberately racist joke to point out how horrible I am, but a) it's entirely on purpose and b) it might work a little too well.

(Parenthetically, I'll just say that I see a black guy who is smart enough to mix drinks and there's got to be something supernatural going on... see? Offensive.

(And, totally not true, for the record.)

Not as offensive as real racists or anything. But, it offends me, and I came up with it. And, maybe there's some truth in it if calling the barman "God" means I was buying into the whole Magic Negro idea without quite intending to do so.)

I don't think I've even seen that movie where God is played by Morgan Freeman--is it Bruce Almighty?--and don't know offhand of another one where God is black. But...

Okay, let's try this again. The barman being somehow responsible for the time loop makes sense if you think about the scenes where he is present. He's around at three points in the film. First, he's there on Day 1 when Rita and Larry come to talk to Phil at the bar. They've already gotten stuck by the blizzard and arguably the time loop is already in place. And, "God" is there to check in on his new Job-Figure toy, Phil Connors (and maybe Larry and Rita as well). His second bit is just as the date night sequence is getting going and Phil is Phil Connoring Rita, much to God's chagrined amusement. God's little Punxsutawney experiment has headed down a different route (I won't suggest it's an unexpected route because, you know, God would totally expect all of this... so, he probably shouldn't be shaking his head like that. And, his third appearance comes on the final day of the time loop, when he's not checking up on Phil but on Larry and Nancy. And, that makes sense. Phil and Rita are about to hook up so God is checking on another couple... maybe he's not "God" per se; maybe he's a god, not the God. Maybe he's cupid. Except he doesn't look at all Mediterranean.

I've said before and I'll say again, I can find meaning anywhere. But, then, writing about the Magic Negro yesterday, I just had to wonder why I decided the barman was God in the first place--and why did I decide the old guy with the red hat was the devil, for that matter? But that doesn't fit this discussion because he is most definitely white. The thing is, while I effectively put the barman into a role the film does not tell us he inhabits, I also did stuff like refer to a different black guy as "pimp" just because he was wearing bright green pants and, at least on my old blurry copy of the film, looked like he had on a fur coat. Am I to believe that a man of color is not allowed to own a fur coat or green pants unless he makes a living promoting prostitution? I don't think so. Why couldn't I see his green pants and think of doctor's scrubs and call him Doctor or something positive?

I am probably sexist as well, because I didn't immediately call the black nurse "pimp" as well, and she's wearing blue scrubs. And, she's got more lines.

Or maybe I'm just impressed by bartenders in general, knowing all those drinks and how to mix them. Maybe color has nothing to do with it.

Or maybe Groundhog day is just so white a film that when black characters show up (and initially there were only two noticeable ones, background extras or speaking roles--the guy who tells Phil how great his Chekhov speech is might have been in the foreground of the shot but he was mostly just a cypher for everyone there in the group, so I didn't notice him until much later; it was just the barman and the nurse) I just couldn't help but latch on and insist they have more important roles than they actually had.

Yeah, that's the ticket. I wasn't being racist, exactly. I was really trying to life up these black characters so they were not sidelined... except then I am a patronizing member of the white patriarchy, thinking it's my job, but more importantly, my right to decide what these people are or can be.

Then again I do the same for everyone in this film. Perhaps I should just say I'm anti-people and leave it at that... except for maybe Debbie and Chubby Man because they still amuse me every time.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to take my own faults more seriously... at least some of the time.

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