The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, April 25, 2005

XXX: State of the Union. Or: Why Vin Diesel gets laid, and Ice Cube doesn’t



Yes!  My most recent opportunity to rant about the state of race relations in America, as expressed in Hollywood images of sensuality.
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Well, the movie doesn’t open until Friday, but I’m going out on a limb here, and I don’t think I’m much at risk.  First, take a look at the rating for the new movie:
“PG-13 - for sequences of intense action violence and some language.”

Now take a look at the rating for the previous one: “PG-13, violence, non-stop action sequences, sensuality, drug content and language”

What’s missing in the second is “drug content” and…and…and what?  Can I hear you, please?  Yes, sensuality.  So we can be pretty sure there will be some big-bosomed babes, and maybe a kiss or two (as shown in the trailer) but no sex, not even sex as mild and indirect as found in the first film (no more intense than most Bond Movies, really).  And before any of you try to dismiss this as an isolated instance, please check my previous posts on this matter.  ANY movie is an isolated instance.  Only when you take a look at a pattern spread over hundreds of movies and dozens of years, can a pattern emerge.

I gave Diesel extra props on the first movie for a couple of reasons.  Most importantly, yeah, it was mindless eye-candy, but Diesel had more African blood than anyone who had ever been allowed to be that competent, macho and sexual on screen before--AND ACCEPTED BY THE AUDIENCE (financially successful film), with the possible exception of Richard Roundtree in the unjustly forgotten “Shaft In Africa,” still arguably the most heroic, Bondian depiction of a non-white male ever to be produced by a major studio.  Diesel is as light as an Octaroon, and  has been smart enough to shave his head to reduce the racial identification factor, and doesn’t comment directly on his heritage, although he will appear in pictures with his darker sister.  He KNOWS that the instant fanboys start considering him “Black” his career options will narrow drastically.   (The Rock is another case.  It remains to be seen whether we will ever get a movie showcasing this phenomenally beautiful and powerful man.  Maybe.  He’s just exotic enough to not trip the African-American warning bell that seems to go off in so many heads.)
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As soon as the sequel was announced starring Rapper-turned –glowering semi-actor Ice Cube, I knew what would happen.  No romatic subplot (Asia Argento in the first film).  Instead, there would be interaction with male “buddies” turning the entire film into a Yang-Yang testosterone fest devoid of even the illusion of a balancing female presence.  And at the end, the buddies would ride off into the sunset together (remember—I’m writing this before it comes out.  I may still have to eat crow).  When else have we seen this pattern?  Try “I Spy” with Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson.  Not enough?  Try “Wild, Wild West” with Will Smith and Kevin Klein.  Still not enough?   “Shaft” with the world’s baddest neuter, Samuel L. Jackson.  The pattern goes on and on and on, and I predict the same thing will happen here—because Ice Cube is too dark not to trip the African-American alarm, and make white fanboys cringe in the privacy and anonymity  of the theater (to quote a classic old Cheech and Chong routine: “"Oh no!  He’s not going to KISS her with those Mambo lips?!”)  Sorry.  I’ve sat in entirely too many audiences around the country, the only nonwhite in the auditorium,  and LISTENED to white males groaning during sex scenes if the male was nonwhite.  I’ve done this dozens of times in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, New York, Chicago…and the reaction is constant, and utterly disheartening.  I’m not going to pretend not to know what I know for the sake of being politically correct.

So.  Without a balancing female energy, expect the mindless bang-boom of the original XXX to escalate to unbelievably absurd levels, to the point where you are looking at nothing but digital effects and bad puns without even the illusion of life.  The film may or may not be profitable (Ice Cube has a loyal following).  But it would be dishonest not to speak plainly about what I see, and why I think it happens.  Again, this is not Hollywood.  It is not America.  It is not white people.  It is the natural human tendency for males of one group to recoil against breeding behavior in males of another group.  American blacks just happen to be on the losing end of a statistical and cultural disadvantage.  It angers  and saddens me, but ultimately there is no one to be angry with, really.  All I can really do is wait for the inevitable browning of America to continue, at which point the entire conversation becomes moot, and people of relatively pure ANYTHING will be the minority.  I can’t wait to hear all the people who’ve told me I’m too sensitive all these years to bitch and moan as the tables are turned.  Heh heh.

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