Thursday, September 18, 2008
From Iron Man to Al Jolson
Recently I decided to check out a new movie by Ben Stiller called, Tropic Thunder. The premise if the film is four or five well known actors have been selected to make the mother of all war movies, where the backdrop for the film is Vietnam. The comedy includes names such as Jack Black, Stiller, a surprise cameo by Tom Cruise, but what was most intriguing or disturbing to me was Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal of an Australian-born method actor who goes through some sort of procedure to to darken his skin to play one of the main characters who is African American. This is why initially when I heard of the film I protested seeing it. I thought to myself, "are they really going to do black face in the twenty-first century?"
The answer of course is "yes". Downey trades in his high tech suit of metal from Iron Man to "play the dude who is disguised as another dude!" To add to that there is a brother in the movie who is a popular rapper that is reminiscent of the Boondock's Gangstalicious (see clip below). Thus, the rapper is a hyper sexual, super thug on television and on "wax", but in real life the artist is secretly homosexual.
After thinking about the movie for a minute, I am going to give it up to Ben Stiller for attempting to create a smart, edgy, comedy that is creating some very complicated satire of the Boondocks, South Park variety with maybe a few more layers. Of note is the identity crisis that Downey's and Stiller's characters go through. But, I wonder if Stiller's audience got so hung up on not going "full retard" (reference used for actors who play mentally handicapped persons in films like Rain Man or Forest Gump) to notice the larger commentary he was making about the film industry and popular culture generally. I do not think those who view this film will pick on such themes. However, I could be wrong. Which gives me hope that Obama can still be elected.
Go register to vote and then get twenty others to do the same.
Posted by negrointellectual at 6:05 AM