Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Table Turns

The Look of Love

Gang Starr - "Flip the Script" (mp3)
(purchase here)

Even before the advent of Technicolor, Hollywood has always loved color... people of, that is! As much as ethnic studies and progressive film analysis have illustrated the various ways that Hollywood has depicted and propagated demeaning stereotypes of us people with at least two fingers of scotch, I have come to the recent conclusion that there are also numerous instances of the tables being turned on the massa'. I suppose genii like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor hinted at this phenomenon early on, but I would like to reiterate their point for my generation: there are some jokes at the expense of the paler persuasion out there, as well.

Ever tuned to TCM, caught a chunk of the original King Kong last night. Of course, there is the obviously shameful:

  • People of Color in a Jungle with a Big "Terrifying" Gorilla:

  • People of the "East Indies" are a mélange of Polynesian, West African and Martian stereotypes:
    I take that last one back; I don't know what the dominant Martian stereotypes are.

  • People with a Touch of Class Have No Class:
    While People Who Think They Have a Touch of Class have class.

  • Pee-pole ub Co-ror Speek Een-grish:

However, in between the clever mise en scène wherein two white dudes move away to drop a punchline on poor Charlie the Chinese Benson and the multiple close-ups of the same native being bit, squashed and squashed again, there are some Denver nuggets of wisdom for those of the milkier mindset. In other words, for every snap at the expense of a person of the gods comes an even bigger bitch-slap to a person who preaches about God.

So, allow me to take a cue from ESPN and indulge in the first installment of... (dramatic pounding of deerskin drums... followed by one ringing *GONG*): Colored Commentary.

(Note: I saw this film a while ago and forgot most of it, so I will only provide observations from last night. Bring it!)

  • Charlie Gets Capped on for Peeling Potatoes:
    A caucasian crewmate asks Charlie why he is always peeling potatoes. Charlie responds, "Because that's the job you assigned me, you ignorant asshole." But only in Colored Speak. In Hollywood jive, he says something to the effect of, "No potato in Chin-er. Me miss potato when I go back Chin-er." Really, who says "Me do this/that?" Strike 1. For those who caught the Colored Speak (it's all in the eyes, baby; drama!), Strike 2. Strike 3 is that the crewmate is also ignorant of Charlie's Islamic roots and how C-Dot is handling that potato with his left hand. Looks like tonight's mash will have some nut up in it! Yer out!

  • Charlie Gets Capped on for Thinking Fay Wray So Pretty:
    Ok, aside from the implausibility of this, considering that Ms. Wray Wray can be a little cross-eyed and, y'know, "special" looking at times, our Man with the Golden Dome also gets the last laugh for witnessing what will surely be the greatest irony of the film. See, Charlie, Bruce "Jack 'In-Search-of-a-Hard-On' Driscoll" Cabot (an odd amalgam of 24 and Alias? Discuss), and a third pale-face crewmate have climbed the ship's mast to sneak a peek at director Robert "Carl Denham" Armstrong shooting some test footage of Ann (aka Fay) Darrow. Denham has Fay/Ann do the whole pretend-you-saw-Kong/the-most-horrible-looking-thing-in-your-life-and-scream bit, which becomes art begging for mercy at the knees of life when she actually meets K Dub (and falls in rub. I mean, 'love'). In short, while all the white knights are clinging to they pole while showing Charlie the back door, it is their envious penii which lead to Fay/Ann's trauma. Oh, which leads me to...

  • Charlie's Paying Attention to Your Girl. Why Can't You?:
    After Ann and Jack's randy "on deck" scene, girl gets lifted by one of the natives. Ever clingy, she manages to rip off one of duke's bracelets, inadvertently leaving evidence that, uh, she's been kidnapped. Meanwhile in the Man Cave, the director, captain, Jack and some other guys are jawing about something seemingly important, based on their furrowed brows and intense glares. Leave it Charlizzle to break up the ego trip by announcing to the whole crew that he found the evidence of a native being on the ship. With the threat of color breaking into the white spectrum, the guys finally realize, "Wait, where's Fay/Ann?" Moral of the story? A true man doesn't fuck and run; he leers and stalks in the dark corners of the ship, waits for some drama to go down, and announces it in an overdramatized way to the boys. Hi-Five again to the Man with the Golden Tan.

  • 'Sounds Like' Doesn't Mean 'Is':
    The presence of reason in the captain is a whitewashed illusion; don't be fooled! See, even Cap'n Anglo thinks he can converse with the people... who live on an island he didn't even know existed. So, while he acts as de facto translator, thinking he can pass peacefully back into the light, the aforementioned drama results! Which goes to show you: don't ever tell a person what they can or cannot do. Because, if they want your Golden Lady, they'll just take her. Man, this must be Hollywood because even this doesn't happen in real life!

  • The Man is Always Keeping You Down:
    I didn't keep track of how much vanilla versus how much chocolate Kong consumes, but he certainly didn't bite, squeeze, toss, stomp, camera-cuts-to-his-mean-mug, and stomp again on any of his vanilla servings while on the isle. And what's nuts is that the coconuts were the ones all up in his area, trying to take his woman no less! But I suppose that's the Rocky Road life: yer just collateral. Admittedly, this scene has no redeeming value to us children under the sun, so I concede this point: this one's just plain Color Me Badd.

There's obviously plenty more to rap about in this film alone, but let's save it for another day, o'tay?


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