Friday, May 22, 2020

even though I’m white on the outside

Opening music: "Hoochie Coochie Man" by Muddy Waters. Minus a point right off the bat.

Mark spent the previous night drinking, and wakes in bed with a woman he does not remember. Not a race problem, but still an immediate negative. This guy should not be going to Harvard.

(That woman in his bed is Missy from Bill & Ted and Kim from Summer School. Amy Stoch as girl who doesn't even get a name here.)
He also has a bucket of tennis balls to turn off two separate alarms (set for noon). He's a Ferris Bueller-wannabe asshole, is what he is.

Minor thing in Mark's favor later: as a lawyer he may be able to sue his father over spending money from what his father specifically calls his "tuition account" on a timeshare in a condo in Barbados. Calling it a "tuition account" sounds like at the least an oral agreement, and based on how banks deal with things like that today, the account itself might have been labeled per its purpose and probably had Mark's name on it. So, talk her white privilege and turn it on your folks, boy.

Janet Maslin says the movie is "a blithe, silly, good-natured movie" and its "quick pacing and high spirits" goes "a long way toward making up for any underlying obtuseness or insensitivity." Roger suggests it has a "lot of potential" and says the premise is "a genuinely interesting idea, filled with dramatic possibilities, but the movie approaches it on the level of a dim-witted sit-com."

Landlord doesn't want a black man living in one of his apartments. His daughter immediately takes an interest in the token black man in the neighborhood--if you remember any line from this movie, it might be hers: "I really don't feel that there's black and white, only shades of gray."

In an interview with Meriah Doty, Rae Dawn Chong suggests that the film "was only controversial because Spike Lee made a thing of it...
He'd never seen the movie and he just jumped all over it... He was just starting and pulling everything down in his wake... If you watch the movie, it's really making white people look stupid.
The movie does make white people look stupid. They are bigots or they are slackers...


For example, the basketball scene is an example of the casual bigotry in display from the characters, which is obvious, but the scene also begins by showing the other black guy on the floor making a shot, effectively displaying the exact stereotyping that Ron Reagan and the other team captain are--we are meant to infer--mistakenly assuming.

The precedent/president scene paints the white students as I'll-prepared fools, either too nervous to answer or too confident while also being wrong. Typical white people, as it were.

Whitney's line about feeling 400 years of oppression in every thrust when she has sex with Mark is a low point among the various race-related issues in the film.
 
 
 
 
 
Roger has a great bit:
Consider, for example, the scene where Howell has his parents (who do not know he is "black") in the kitchen, a sex-mad white girl in his bedroom and Chong in the living room. He races back and forth like a Marx brother, pulling on a. Ski cap so his parents can't se his face, and we realize that all of this idiotic farce is an excuse for avoiding the tough dialogue that would have to be written for realistic scenes involving these people.
The movie fails to combine its attempts at social commentary with its attempts at romantic comedy. And that means that neither of those things really succeed. I mean, it would take a fantastic writer to make the social commentary really work here without it being at least offensive in passing. The romantic comedy moments work a little better but depend too much on the social commentary paying off better than it does.

Instead, the jokes are cringeworthy. If you can forgive the 1986-ishness of the movie, it's not that bad a comedy. But, nearly a quarter century out, we deserve better.
(Also, the eviction won't hold up either, if Mark and Gordo dispute it. I really doubt Boston in 1986 would allow eviction because a black tenant had sex with a white girl... Although, it's America. That sort of law could still be on the books today in some places.)

No comments:

Post a Comment