Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Magic Negro in The Family Guy

I absolutely love this film, but it definitely doesn’t evade stereotyping, as it incorporates the Magic Negro. In case some of you haven’t seen this film, it is about a man named Jack Campbell (Nicholas Cage) who is an incredibly successful Wall Street banker, who is filthy rich, single, and thinks he has everything in life. His last serious girlfriend was his college sweetheart who he left years ago in order to pursue his career, and he has never looked back on it. However, the truth is that he is completely, utterly alone and unloved.

Luckily for Jack, the Magic Negro is there to save him and show him what he’s been missing. Cash (the black character) is stereotyped in two ways, first as the Magic Negro and then as a “bad buck” as he is portrayed as being “strong, no good, and violent” (Hall, 251). His first scene shows him pulling a gun out at a store attendant at a convenience store (that interestingly enough happens to be run by clueless Asian with bad accents). However, Jack saves the day and stops him from doing anything stupid; they end up having a conversation where Jack tells Cash that he has everything he needs in life. After that Cash casts a spell on Jack causing him to be thrust into a life where he has a wife and kids so he can have a preview of what he has been missing, and to show him that he doesn’t possess everything in life.

Thus, in this film “the magic negro has zero ambitions of his own. His entire existence revolves around the lead white character (Jack Campbell) whom they help with their simple, rustic wisdom” (Arteaga). The story evolves around “the white guy achieving his goals” (Arteaga); which in this case would be Jack Campbell who Cash helps by making him realize that he doesn’t have everything in life and that he is missing love and family.  

Here is a clip of The Magic Negro at his finest moment: 

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