Saturday, May 23, 2009

Modern Day Minstrelsy

We thought that the worst part about this movie was that it did not understand itself as a 2009 minstrel show until we just did a quick google search and discovered the rest of America also does not seem to understand.

The movie is "Dance Flick" and the we is my friend Soula and I. After witnessing this horror of a film which was unbelievably racist, sexist, homophobic etc. we are left dumbfounded and are currently using this blog to work through and process what we just saw.

The plot is based loosely on Save the Last Dance with a little bit of You Got Served, Stomp the Yard, Step Up, Fame, Flashdance and Hairspray thrown in. Remember the scene in Save the Last Dance when Julia Stiles gets into the car to change clothes before she goes to the club? She asks her friend if she is dressed okay. She and the friend then get into the car and she makes a quick few changes to make her "fit in." The obvious is that she needs to be a little more "down" or let's just say it: black. And the Wayans' apparently thought it was okay to take this literally, revealing our protagonist in black face exclaming, "What it do shawty??"

This is just ONE of the many examples of how ridiculously unaware the movie is of its own bigotry. It is self-hatred.

I am in the midst of preparing a lecture for my dance history class on Tuesday which covers how minstrelsy was the only way for African Americans to get on the stage in America up until the early decades of the twentieth century. White people began to caricature blacks during the slave era, and looking for a way into show business blacks began to caricature themselves - for the right to perform, but also for the notoriety and the money.

Well, Wayans', if that was your goal, then you got it.

The movie attempts to critique both the problems in contemporary black culture and also those in American culture, but fails horribly as each slight (i.e. an absentee teenage black father who once a week literally "picks up" his child and puts him back in the stroller, or a hoard of people who run wildly for free gasoline) is undermined by the movie overall.

While there are some comical moments, they are mostly slapstick. Essentially, you are bombarded with black joke, after fat joke, after gay joke, after sex joke, after scatological joke which are beyond inappropriate, insulting and disgusting. Our jaws are still dropped two hours and forty five minutes after the opening credits rolled.

There are so many layers at work in this movie and I am not sure that seeing it just this one time could possibly critique and reveal all of the problems that lie within it.

Usually I encourage people to see something and make up their own minds about it, but I have to take a stand on this one. DO NOT GIVE MONEY to support this film.

We honestly are wondering, how do the Wayans' justify themselves? How did they rationalize that this was okay? And why does it seem that no one else's comments even attempt to scratch the surface of what this movie really is?

3 comments:

Stan said...

they do it for MONEY! U didn't KNOW that? We hate ourselves so much that we will actually pay money to watch ourselves, hate ourselves! Any good film producer knows that.
dad

Sydnie said...

i know that... that's what i just wrote about, lol.

Stan said...

well, i was just answering your question about how they justify themselves ... money and only money!

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