Tropic Thunder...Can you dig it?

Posted 8/17/2008 by CtotheB in Labels: , , ,

So you may have heard about the parade of organizations protesting, defaming, even denouncing--yikes!--the recent Ben Stiller cut called Tropic Thunder.

But amongst that number of self-anointed saints, you will not find the NAACP, Rev. Al or Jesse, or anybody who might've been in "Black in America." Tis a pretty amazing feat. Just how could this be? How could you put a man in blackface and NO ONE find it offensive?

Well...they did.

And rather brilliantly, if I may add. The first point is, Downey's portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, a 5 time Academy Award winning actor who has his pigmentation altered in order to play a black sergeant, is not blackface. This ain't Birth of a Nation. Those who have tried to tie Downey's role to the unholy legacy of minstrelsy have failed miserably. The only ones who are mocked in this portrayal are those who lack authenticity. Kirk Lazarus' "realness" is laughable; but you are not laughing at his "blackness", you laugh at his futile attempt.

In the crazy cast of characters, his portrayal reminds me of Carl Weathers in Predator, though I've heard comparisons to Fred Williamson as well. Though Alpa Chino, the only "real" black character in the film, checks Lazarus at different junctures of the film, (At one point, Stiller's character says, "What's wrong with you people?" To which Lazarus responds, "What do you mean you people?" Chino quickly quips, "What do YOU mean by you people?") you leave the film tickled by Downey's portrayal of Lazarus' portrayal of a black man. (Or in his words, "I'm the dude, playing the dude, who's playing the dude.)

I appreciate it Hollywood. Thanks for skipping on the shuck and jive.

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