Monday, July 11, 2005

Nerds, Fly-Girls, and Plot Devices

Right here and now, I am declaring a moratorium on film romances between nerdy white guys and streetwise black women. We are way over our quota. It may have started on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with one of Aunt Viv's sisters marrying a white guy. Just look at the list of recent movies that rely on this plot crutch:

  • Bringing Down the House
  • Road Trip
  • Bulworth
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Taxi (I haven't seen it, so I can't say for sure)

What have I missed? Readers?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it started with "the jeffersons"

July 11, 2005 7:37 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

I am going to give The Jeffersons a pass, since that was a major subplot of the show. Lionel marries a mixed-race girl. And the Dad (Willis? Bentley?) was more of a buffoon than a nerd. Every male on that show, with the exception of Lionel, was kind of a buffoon.

Plus the plot mirrored Roxie Roker's real life as the mother of Lenny Kravitz.

So The Jeffersons is exempt from the moratorium. Now, if you are talking about lame comedy....

July 11, 2005 10:18 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Ooo. I forgot Jimmy Carter (Dan Aykroyd) and the cleaning woman (Garrett Morris) in the Pepsi Syndrome skit on Saturday Night Live.

July 11, 2005 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was this movie with Ron Jeremy and Bionca... same type plot. I forget the name of the movie.

July 13, 2005 3:36 PM  
Blogger chrisheadrick said...

Film romances between nerdy white guys and streetwise black women is nothing compared to the barrage of "race-switching" movies we've had to suffer recently...

Namely, these movies derive their whole comedic plot from 1. having a character of one race switch race with another, 2. having the character pretend/act exagerratedly like he's another race or 3. placing one race in another culture...the "fish out of water".

--In Head of State, Chris Rock becomes our first black president, and teaches white people to be cool.
--In Down To Earth, Rock returns to Earth as an angel in the body of a rich white man, and teaches white folks to be cool.
--In White Chicks, two black police officers go undercover pretending to guessed it.
--There was a movie that ripped off that classic Eddie Murphy skit, where a black man makes himself up to pass as a white man...I forget the title.
--In Malibu's Most Wanted, Jamie Kennedy plays a character who's white, but acts black.
--The Ali G Show is founded on the idea of a non-black man acting black--or 'urban'--for laughs.
--Most recently, the most popular comedic skit in America featured a black man--Dave Chappelle--mistakedly believing he is a white supremacist.
--In Black Knight, Martin Lawrence finds himself transported back in time to medieval England...where he's the only black man around.
--You forgot to mention that in Bulworth, Warren Beatty attracts his streetwise black woman by 'rapping' his speeches.

So nerdy white guys/streetwise black women seems to merely be a spinoff of the bigger easy it is for writers to generate material when blacks and whites are placed side-by-side. In the 80s, it was cop movies/buddy pictures.

A friend and I watched John Cleese being interviewed about the success of "Fawlty Towers". He felt it was successful because the humor was based on what the British fear and makes them nervous the most--namely, propriety and avoiding public embarrassment in regards to proper manners. Watch any episode of "Towers", and it's inevitably about Basil trying to avoid public humiliation through a polite, gritted-teeth smile. There's even a successful British show called "Keeping Up Appearances".

Cleese commented that manners and class were the goldmines of British comedy that are returned to again and again, because the culture has so much emotional baggage about it.

My friend asked rhetorically, "I wonder what the American comedic equivalent is". I replied I thought it was race.

July 16, 2005 1:14 PM  
Blogger chrisheadrick said...

Please read 'exagerratedly" as "exaggeratedly" in the previous post. One thing about postin', once ya send, it's in stone.

July 16, 2005 3:40 PM  

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