Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A dude playing a dude disguised as another dude

While reading Dyer's article, I instantly thought of "Tropic Thunder." There is no better example of a a white man who's power is dependent on black people. In this case, Robert Downey Jr.'s, plays Kirk Lazarus, a multiple Academy Award winning actor who has gone a controversial procedure to darken the pigmentation of his skin in order to play a black sergeant, Sergeant Lincoln Osiris, in his next film, taking method acting to an extreme. Within the two paralleling story lines, if it were not for this black character, Kirk Lazarus would not have a role in the film, which inadvertanly emphasizes Dyer's claim of white man's dependence on black people. Kirk plays Osiris as a stereotypical black man by speaking with an accent, using "Black English," and portraying him as an intimidating man with a tough exterior. 
"Tropic Thunder" explores the "absolutist view of black and white cultures, as fixed, mutually impermeable expressions of racial and national identity, [which] is a ubiquitous theme in racial 'common sense.'" (Dyer, 146) This example is also a reversal of Dyer's explanation of a "black person becoming white." (Dyer 148) Regardless of the reversal, Downey's portrayal of Lazarus playing a black man still provoked a slight feeling that was "deeply disturbing, setting in motion the anxiety attendant on any loosening of the fixed visibility of the colorized other." (Dyer, 148) However, I found this movie to be very funny which caused Dyer's view which I previously stated to be s0mewhat overlooked, but still vaguely felt. 


  1. I think this character perhaps pokes fun at the history of white actors playing that of a black person's role. Even though this was a comedy, I believe that there are still those who were very offended by this.

  2. I agree...this movie provokes a lot of stereotypes other than white & black. I remember that Ben Stiller's use and portrayal of the word retarded in the movie sparked a lot of protests right outside of the premiere

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