Thursday, May 15, 2008

Musings from a black woman: Why I won't watch Iron Man


Iron Man, by Daisy at Daisy's Dead Air.


. . . Spoilers ahead.

For instance, during the early scenes in which the evil Arab terrorists in Afghanistan take Tony Stark (hotshot weapons manufacturer and war profiteer) hostage, I am not at all sure the numerous ill-behaved, noisy suburban brats behind me understood that this was not how all dark-skinned Arabs behave. His ally during captivity is a lighter-skinned, well-educated, erudite sort (played by Shaun Toub), while the bad guys are all dark, dirty and mean. I felt uncomfortable with that, and would have found it necessary to editorialize if I had brought small children to the movie.

At one point during these early scenes, the ally complains he doesn't understand what the terrorists are saying because they are speaking in Hungarian. Hungarian? Obviously, someone on the set complained and they decided to throw that in for those of us who might complain all the terrorists are Arabs.

Later in the movie, we learn the situation is not as we thought (and nicely done, I must say!), but I don't think the younger kids behind me could fully understand the twists and turns of the plot. Jeff Bridges (great villain performance, bravo! Good movie villains are hard to come by, and Kevin Spacey really disappointed me in SUPERMAN RETURNS) morphs into the the villain in a deliciously-greedy fashion and we discover he has hired the terrorists to kidnap Stark and take over Stark Industries. But doesn't this mean the Arabs are still mindless and evil, just that they are working for an American instead? Is terrorism for American dollars and weaponry supposed to be better than terrorism for some supposedly righteous cause?

Hmm.


There's also this: Black Like Downey: The Dark Overtones Of 'Tropic Thunder'. And this: 'Tropic Thunder' Trailer Doesn't Exactly Bury The Whole Robert Downey Jr. Blackface Subplot.

There are brief moments when I wonder why so much of what I write about involves injustice, discrimination and ignorant privileged folks running my American media. Then I realize, it's not like I go looking for the crazy; the crazy comes to me. Iron Man and Tropic Thunder are not only mainstream movies; they are tentpole events. This isn't Will Ferrell and his relatively less famous friends making an allegedly humorous video about rape on their own website. This is a group of major studios and distributors deciding that perpetuating anti-Arab sentiments and blackface (?!) is still acceptable in 2008.

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