My Open Salon pal Mad Typist penned an excellent blog today concerning the lack of positive female characters in Pixar’s otherwise uplifting films. If you haven’t read it, check it out.
Mad Typist is right: even the vaunted Pixar colossally fails when it comes to portraying women and minorities in a positive and progressive light. But others are worse. Way worse.
Lately its the comedies that have been bothering me. Where are the African-Americans in “white” comedies?
Take for example the recent lousy Paul Rudd vehicle "I Love You, Man." I trekked to the late-run $1 movie house to watch this--mainly to see the beautiful Rashida Jones. In the movie, Jones (the biracial daughter of Quincy Jones) looks white/Mediterranean, as she always does. That part didn't bother me. What did was the fact that all her friends in the movie were white and her parents were written out of the script without any explanation whatsoever--even though there was a wedding climax scene in the film (no father walked her down the aisle). Her parents weren't mentioned or ever shown on screen. I was disappointed... It was almost like the movie execs wanted Jones “to pass” on screen.
Another egregious example is the 2009 dramedy, "Adventureland." That (also bad) movie deals with an overeducated jewish boy's coming of age in a 1980's theme park. Many of the scenes were filmed at Kennywood, a real life Pittsburgh amusement park. The film's one black character had zero speaking lines. She appeared several times and in each of her scenes, she silently hung out and danced with one of the film's main white female characters. I recognized Kennywood on screen because I've been there. When I went, most of the people working the park were black. At least half of the park's visitors were minorities. It's situated in a blue-collar minority section of town. To film this movie about fictional Adventureland employees the filmmakers had to get rid of all the real (black) Kennywood workers and set the film 20 years in the past. This and the Rashida Jones no parents thing make it seem like Hollywood writers and producers are going out of their way to avoid black characters and actors in mainstream (i.e. not Tyler Perry) comedies.
The last comedy I saw in the theater was “Hangover.” The fiancé and I went yesterday. It was disgusting, but funny. I felt like I needed to go to church afterward. It did contain some hip-hop in the soundtrack and the film featured one (very funny) black actor (Mike Epps), but his role was a tiny one... Epps wasn’t cast as one of the four partying buddies, but as the drug dealer who sold the four partying (white) buddies some bad dope. Go figure.
Can somebody point me to some 2000’s era comedy that features funny, major parts for both black and white actors? I honestly can’t think of many.