8.14.2005

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense

Breakfast at Tiffany's, great movie. I love to watch it. Just plain fun. Except for Mickey Rooney.

Haven't seen the film? Let me fill you in. As Holly Golightly is having fun in the zany world of New York City, she is constantly put upon by her upstairs neighbour, Mr. Yunioshi. Oh, Mr. Yunioshi, will you ever stop being so upset at our darling heroine? No? Is that because you're a white actor playing to every cheap stereotype of a foreign culture?

I truly find it horrifying to see a complex culture reduced to such a juvenile standard. The pure laziness of playing off of people's preconceived notions offends me. While today's politically correct standard would abhor a Mr. Yunioshi as much as perhaps an unironic blackface performance in modern cinema, I prefer to call into question the value of humour derived from watching one man's cheap imitation of a culture not their own.

Which leads me to The Longest Yard, the Adam Sandler remake of a Burt Reynolds movie (that last should suffice as a review of the movie). Now, I admit that I have not seen the movie but I have seen enough to require a quarantine. In this film, Tracy Morgan plays, get this, a gay inmate. I know, it's a screwball comedy, the bar for expectations should be set so low to the ground that to accurately describe it would require exponential notation. But Morgan's character! The homosexual stereotype is so painfully facile. There are homophobic teenagers with more complex portrayals of a gay person. I simply don't understand it.

I do believe there is a gay culture, any oppressed minority eventually develops one as they band together to carve themselves a corner in which to act freely. To mine it so lightly for the cheapest of laughs is just plain awful. But it is not the simple reductionism that angers me the most. Good comedy is hard; I can't blame the weak of wit for taking the path of least resistance. It is the mutually accepted fact between performer and audience that "Say, isn't this gay guy funny?" "Yes, he is!" resonates with people that gets me.

I guess I'm not really angry, to be honest. The better description is that it disheartens me. I don't hold mankind as a whole to a very high standard. The fact that it manages still to disappoint cuts me to the core.