Warning: if you have a child-like adulation for stupid 80’s movies, I suggest you stop reading. Or continue to read and tell me I’m an asshole. Your disdain only fuels me.
I know, I know… Another “minority” griping about racism! Haven’t we had enough of this? Well, in the aftermath of angry, middle aged, rich, right wing assholes crying racism after the Sotomayor hearings and Obama’s uppity remark about stupid cops (GASP!), I though I’d chime in as well. But, I chose to go back to the movies I once loved, and tear them apart a little. I love slaughtering sacred cows.
I was just watching “Back to the Future,” a movie I enjoyed then as now. It’s a fun movie, with a really cool science fiction twist, and full of 80’s excess: shitty Delorean, Alan Slivestri doing his best John Williams impression, not to mention Michael J Fox’s super sweet jacket vest. Which, by the way, if you wear today, I don’t care who makes it, or how much you spent on it, you still look like a twit. It also has one more 80’s staple: casual racism.
No, a black dude doesn’t die in the first five minutes (they wanted to keep a PG rating, otherwise, I’m sure Goldie Wilson would’ve gotten it) and no, a typical Latin guy doesn’t pull a knife on Fox (although, it would’ve been nice, at least to see a Latin guy get a role, but let’s face it, they would’ve booked an Italian to play that part). No, the racism in this movie, frankly, I find so much more repugnant.
After Marty McFly helps the all black band play “Earth Angel” to get his parents to fall in love in the 50’s, they suggest that they play another number, “Something that really cooks!” Rock god in training, Marty McFly, cannot resist. He then proceeds to instruct the all black band on how to follow him, admonishing, “And… Try to keep up!” He then launches into Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode.” A song that most people believe gave birth to the popularity of rock and roll. Needless to say, all the white kids are loving what was once called in the 50’s, “the jungle rhythms of the negro.”
But wait! That’s a white guy singing and playing guitar, putting all those black dudes to shame! So, like when Elvis first came out, playing music he stole from much more talented black musicians, he caused a major stir, and the white kids were loving it.
Here’s where I get livid. The injured guitarist, Marvin Berry, goes to make a phone call, this music is SO awesome, that he has to share it with his cousin Chuck. “You know that new sound you were looking for? Well, listen to THIS!” And he holds up the phone so that his apparently shiftless and untalented and uncreative cousin, Chuck Berry can hear it and, evidently steal it.
WHAT?! Seriously, Zemeckis, you motherfucker?! You have the motherfucking temerity to even jokingly act like in your racist world, rock and roll was a gift bestowed upon the black community by a white kid with mediocre musical talent?! Not that rock and roll was born out of music that Africans brought with them when they were shipped over hear like so many farm implements, to build this new country with the barrel of gun at their backs. Music that then evolved into spirituals, after the slave masters forced their own bullshit religion upon them. That then gave birth to the blues, as a way of coping with the hundreds of years of systematic torture and abuse and slavery pressed upon the backs of their necks like an oppressor’s boot. Only after that, and many other forms of music, given to us by immensely talented black musicians, was rock and roll born.
And yes, I do realize that “it’s just a movie.” But come on! White people getting credit for rock and roll? Isn’t it enough that you stole the money that should have rightfully gone to black people and made a white man “The King of Rock and Roll”?
Which brings us to three of the most racist and most beloved movies of all time. No, one of them is NOT “Gone With the Wind.” I think we can agree that, OH MAN! The racism is FAT in that movie! No, I’m talking about the movies about the great Philly boxer who never existed, yet somehow has a statue dedicated to him in that town: Rocky.
Where the fuck do I start? Okay, fine, I won’t attack the sacred cow of all white guy’s fantasies of a “great white hope.” But face it, since white dudes first started boxing “inferior” races, they’ve been getting their asses handed to them. It’s hard to go up against hundreds of years of pent up oppression.
I’ll concentrate on “Rocky III.” The most abhorrently racist of all his movies. Mr. T plays Clubber Lang. Man, Stallone is great at coming up with negro names! Not that Mr. T shouldn’t be made fun of for coming up with such a ridiculously simplistic name. Clubber is barely fucking human. He doesn’t even speak so much as grunts and growls.
The classic scene for me, is when Rocky is getting his statue (it’s still there, right)? And why does Rocky get a statue, by the way? Even in this made up world, why does he get a statue? At that point, he’s only had two pro fights, apparently, and BARELY won the last one. What about the other boxers that busted their asses to get to the top of their game? Oh right, no one ever made a second rate movie about them. So, Clubber shows up and ruins the best moment: Rocky’s announcement that he’ll retire. Clubber is all froth and barking like a mad dog, and Rocky, being the even tempered guy he is, tries to diffuse the conversation. Until… He invites Rocky’s wife back to his apartment for sex.
Now, yes, I will agree that this is very insulting, no matter who offers up such an invitation. But there’s a bigger picture here. It is at THIS moment that the movie switches into a higher gear, why? Because it’s the black man trying to get at the white man’s prize, the white woman.
Cue stupid 80’s montage! Oh how I miss them! So stupidly entertaining! Rocky trains like a self absorbed star, and Clubber, apparently trains in a basement. Or a prison cell, it’s hard to tell. Rocky’s having a good time and Clubber is grunting and roaring like the animal he is, after all, that’s what Mickey called him. Oh, by the way, the nasty black man killed that nice old white man, and then beats the shit out of Rocky. Man, this dude is evil! By the way, of course Clubber Lang beat the shit out of the lazy, older, out of shape Rocky. He didn’t even take his training seriously.
Now it gets interesting. Apollo Creed comes into the fray. He feels it is up to him to help Rocky beat this uppity variety of black man. Because he is bad for boxing. Boxing, the sport where you beat the hell out of each other until one of you passes out (or sometimes dies) is to be kept free of violent men like Clubber Lang. If I’m not mistaken, I believe Malcolm X would have called Clubber the field negro, and Apollo the house negro.
So, Apollo teaches him to dance. No, seriously, he does! He teaches him that the best way to avoid getting the fuck kicked out of you is to (get this) dodge! Brilliant! Apparently, the white god of boxing with his statue in Philly, had no idea how to dodge. He teaches him to swim, though it is hilariously obvious that Apollo will not get in the pool with him, Stallone thus trying to prove Jimmy the Greek’s opinions. He even takes him to the ghettos of Los Angeles.
Fight night. Rocky is ready with all the new knowledge (like dodging) bestowed upon him by Uncle Tom-Apollo. Halfway through the fight, Rocky abandons all he was taught much to the dismay of Tom, uh, Apollo… Rocky has a better idea, and idea that must be better because HE thought of it, and he’s white, so it must be better!
His stunningly brilliant idea? Rope a Dope. That’s where you put YOURSELF against the ropes, protect yourself, and allow the stronger opponent to tire himself out. Then, when he’s good and tired, you go in for the kill. Pretty good plan, actually. Incidentally, Muhammad Ali invented and perfected that technique against George Foreman in Africa, years before. I know, huh? TOO much blackness! So, Stallone will give credit where it ain’t do: to an over the hill, fictional mediocrity, who somehow got a REAL statue commemorated to him in Philadelphia.
Fuck you Stallone. You robbed from the greatest boxer of all time and gave credit for a brilliant tactic to a fictional white character.
I know, I know… It sounds like I’m being hyper sensitive to racism. I mean, these movies are classics, right? Well, so is “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With the Wind.” At least those fucking movies let you know what side they stood on. It’s the insidious nature of modern racism that irks me so. Besides, if right wing douche bags on Fox are gonna scream out racism over literally nothing, I think I can get away with popping a few sacred cow balloons.
Take movies a little more seriously, and maybe we wouldn’t have to suffer through so much bullshit.