Tropic thoughts

I must admit when I first heard about this movie, I was pretty much in the WTF camp. However after reading a few reviews and a desire today to not work on a pressing piece of client work today, I gathered eldest child and the spousal unit and decided to go check it out while mini-me lounged at daycare.

This is one of those films that on the surface I see why its getting good reviews, Americans are not that deep and on the surface it is a funny movie. I think Ben Stiller has some talent as a director and from a cinematic angle he did do some interesting things. To quote a Ben Stiller interview I heard on NPR, he satirizes satire and I will agree that he did that well.

However as someone who studied media images of African-Americans (specifically Black women though I will don my quasi-academic hat here) the use of Black face or rather Robert Downey Jr as a Black man is disturbing to me. Now my son on the way home, told me point blank he does not agree with me and felt that maybe I was looking to nitpick at the movie. Yet as I watched (by the way Downey is a talented actor), I could not help thinking of early films such as Birth of a Nation, which is the most offensive piece of shit I have ever seen.

No, looking at the larger picture as a society we are not a place where I feel black-face regardless of how we dress it is ok. We may have a Black man running for president yet we live in a world where there are too many negative media representations of Blacks for me to be ok with this portrayal.  Downey’s character does attempt some shucking and jiving and is in fact put in his place by a real Black man but still its too much for my taste. The  fact that Downey’s character even attempts to shuck and jive no matter how brilliantly acted, still lets me know how the greater white society often views Blacks. We are not taken seriously, we are expected to perform and while on a base level we laugh it exposes the racism that is still firmly entrenched in our society.

Would I recommend this film? That’s a tough one, to be honest, though while Tropic Thunder is deeper than a Tyler Perry film, it was still a hard pill to swallow.

4 thoughts on “Tropic thoughts”

  1. Actually I do think the film could open up some pretty powerful dialogues regarding race and stereotypes in general. This movie was definitely a mixed bag for me, on the one hand Downey’s character annoyed me but at the same time he was an interesting study especially when contrasted against the real Black man in the movie.

  2. Well I think that was the point of Downey he was playing an Australian playing a black man and sad to say that is the image America has built of American blacks.

    My ex husband is a foreign black man his parents are from Grenada and they think the same stereotypical things about us as whites do. I was pretty much told I was an exception to the portrait of lazy blacks they seemed to believe were prevalent in today’s society. I think the movie could open up deeper dialogues if Americans were deeper.

    I think may agree with your eldest on this. I think you are probably bother that black face can still be portrayed and be a powerful form that now points out we haven’t really moved past the times of black face being truthful to many.


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