Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chris Tucker: The Black "Entertainer"

Stuart Hall suggested in his academic piece, “The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media,” that racism, in today’s culture, is natural or inferential. He explained that black actors are limited to specific roles in television and movies according to today’s ideologies. One of these roles, the “clown” or “entertainer,” is embodied in the character played by black actor, Chris Tucker, in the Rush Hour film series.

Throughout the movie, Chris Tucker’s character is goofy and entertaining so as to not be taken seriously at all. This is especially lucid as he is placed next to his asian partner, Jackie Chan, whose character is skilled, calm and smart. In fact, the writers exploited the contrast of these two characters and racial groups to compose sharp one-liners. A few examples from Rush Hour 3 include:

-Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker): Come on, Crouching Tiger! Don’t you hide that dragon!

-Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker): You can’t be black. There’s a height requirement.

-Master Yu: May I help you?

Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker): I’ll be asking the questions old man. Who are you?

Master Yu: Yu.

Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker): No, not me. You.

Master Yu: Yes, I’m Yu.

Detective James Carter (Tucker): Are you deaf?


Excerpts such as these show Tucker as an ignorant goofball who cannot be taken seriously, affirming Hall’s position that black actors are portrayed as “clowns” and “entertainers” to fit our ideological beliefs.

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