DID YOU READ

5 Culturally Insensitive Comedies That Somehow Exist

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The Internet has exploded with “hot takes” on Rachel Dolezal, the Caucasian head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP who has passed herself off as a black woman for many years. And if your brain is as pop culture-addled/rotted as ours, your thoughts immediately went to Soul Man, the 1986 “comedy” where C. Thomas Howell actually wears blackface in front of James Earl Jones.

Sadly, the history of motion picture comedy is rife with awkward and dated examples of actors portraying another race in a less than sensitive fashion. Here are five of the most egregious cases.

1. Soul Man

It’s difficult to watch the trailer for this infamous C. Thomas Howell vehicle today without your jaw dropping several times. Howell plays a rich kid faced with paying for his Harvard Law School tuition when daddy cuts him off. Instead of taking out student loans or, say, getting a part-time job, Howell’s Mark Watson instead takes tanning pills (which apparently was a thing if this movie is to be believed) in order to pass as African-American and deceive his way into a scholarship. Fun fact: This comedy from the producers of Risky Business was written by one of the creators of The Wonder Years, proving we all have off days. Less fun fact: Howell’s line “These are the ’80s, man — the Cosby decade!” is uncomfortable on a number of levels today.


2. Ernest Goes to Africa

After inadvertently giving his lady love a yo-yo made from rare African diamonds, Ernest P. Worrel gets embroiled in an adventure that takes him to Africa and involves all manner of dated jokes about tribal cultures. (Yes, Ernest almost gets eaten by the natives.) He also dresses in drag and dons blackface as a servant named “Hey You.” Definitely the low point of the Ernest franchise, which is saying a lot when you take into account outings like Slam Dunk Ernest, where our loveable yokel become a basketball sensation thanks to a pair of magic shoes.


3. The Love Guru

In a way, we only have ourselves to blame for Mike Myers’ painfully unfunny Guru Pitka character. If we hadn’t encouraged him to don a fat suit and insult Scottish people in several Austin Powers movies, perhaps he would’ve thought before adopting a stereotypical accent and ridiculous beard for his disastrous appropriation of Indian culture. Hopefully we have all learned something here.


4. The Party

Of course, Myers was likely channeling his hero Peter Sellers, who played an Indian actor in director Blake Edwards’ experimental comedy. The same Edwards of course who gave us Mickey Rooney sporting buckteeth and an exaggerated Japanese accent straight out of a World War II-era Bugs Bunny cartoon in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.


5. Basically Any Movie Where Rob Schneider Wears a Wig and False Teeth

Really, this list could be comprised entirely of Adam Sandler movies where Rob Schneider pretty much commits a hate crime on film. Whether it’s Salim in You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, the Asian minister in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Ula in 50 First Dates or even the Chinese waiter he played in Eight Crazy Nights, Schneider can always be counted on to offend some culture with his broad, stereotypical performances. Really, who hasn’t he offended at this point? The Dutch, perhaps? There’s still time. To crib from his famous line from The Waterboy, “You can do it, Rob!”

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.