Twofer: Get Hard & Furious 7

What can these two movies possibly have in common, other than me miraculously sitting through both?

Matt wrote all you need to know about the new Will Ferrell\Kevin Hart movie Get Hard. If you’re wondering if you should see it, talk to Matt. If you did see it and you’re wondering what the hell, read on: (spoilers ahead!)

Get Hard has all the nuts and bolts of a smart social farce but never really puts it together. The first 15 minutes have a lot of potential in their view of the haves vs the have nots, but the movie ti-will-ferrell-get-harddevolves into all of the racial stereotypes it’s supposed to be making fun of. I thought it was super damaging and sad that they made the Kevin Hart character so uneducated. Will Ferrell is the dumb one, the one who got framed and never noticed, who is terrified of black people but isn’t afraid to offend them by misappropriating their culture, who treats any person of colour so indifferently he subjects them unthinkingly to his nudity because they might as well be just another fixture in his palatial home. And yet the script goes out of its way (3 times that I noticed) to have Will Ferrell make a literary reference that Kevin Hart just doesn’t get.

The whole premise of the movie relies on Will Ferrell’s (incorrect) assumption that like most black men, Kevin Hart is an ex-convict. Actually, he’s spotless…although it turns out that he does have a cousin who’s a gang banger. So there’s that. You know, because even the non-criminal black men roll with thugs. Is that the worst of it? Hardly? One scene that goes on way too long has Kevin Hart pretending to be prison characters – a scary black dude, and an angry Hispanic GH_D42_009.dngone. He throws out every stereotype he knows but we never once talk about why prisoners are overwhelmingly one minority or another when we have verifiable proof of white guilt right in front of us. I came out of this movie thinking a lot about what it failed to do or say.  It had every opportunity to talk about race, and about economic disparity, and white privilege, but it didn’t. Instead it was a tired, two-hour long repetitive rape joke, and what does that say about our culture that we feel better laughing about rape than we do about confronting racial bias? Yeah, I know this was a comedy that exists to make us laugh, not to be a teachable moment. But Trading Places managed to be both. There’s a lot of great satire out there, funny as heck, and while this one has the veneer of social commentary, underneath it’s just cheap particle board.

Furious 7 manages to tell us more about race without even trying. It’s hard to believe we’re seven movies into this franchise – you may think that’s seven too many, or you may already be eagerly awaiting number eight. But have you ever noticed how ethnically diverse the cast is, and has been since day one?

It feels a little tacky for me to sit here and list all the non-white people, but there are lots, and not just side kicks and bit parts – real marquee characters with back stories and dimensions, and they’re not necessarily the first to get killed off! The series has also visited a lot of non-English speaking countries along the way – trips to Brazil, Japan, and Mexico have only expanded the diversity of the cast, proving it doesn’t matter what colour you are so long as you’re buff and can drive a stick.

And that’s a great thing, actually. 54% of North American movie goers are white, but the actual Fast 5population is actually a little over 60%, which means minorities, and Hispanics in particular, are the fastest-growing ticket buyers. If audiences are multi-cultural, so should be the movies they watch. And whatever else The Fast and Furious franchise has been, it has consistently delivered a varied group of people capable of interracial relationships. And this inclusive trend exists behind the camera as well. The second one was directed by black filmmaker John Singleton, movies 3 through 6 were done by Justin Lin, and the most recent two were directed by Malaysian-born James Wan.

But the most impressive part (aside from y ability to start so many sentences with the word But) is that race is just a fact of li fe in these movies. It just is. Your boss might be Asian, your girlfriend could be Iranian, your best friend could be The Rock, your own step-kid could be Hispanic, but nobody need mention any of it, let alone pat themselves on the back for it. furious-7-header-1Generally, when Hollywood makes a movie starring a white guy and a black guy, the movie is about a white guy and a black guy: the culture clash! the misunderstandings! they’re so different but maybe also kinda the same! It can never just be a guy and his friend, who happens to be black. Get Hard is dripping with exactly this kind of guilt, which is sad because Ferrell and Hart are both funny guys and (I’m guessing that) in real life, Ferrell doesn’t talk down to Hart, isn’t afraid he’ll steal his car, and has maybe even shared a bowl of popcorn with him while watching Boyz N The Hood (directed by John Singleton, by the way! — coincidence? Yeah, probably).

Movies are the one place in America where segregation is still allowed to exist. There are tiny pockets of all-black Tyler Perry movies to counter the enormity of Hollywood’s white washing, but that misses the point. We don’t need more segregation, we need integration. And I’m not talking about movies “about race”, I’m talking about movies that have people in them, stupidly beautiful versions of people from all backgrounds standing around in tight tank tops talking about what really matters to America: fast cars and freedom.

 

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Twofer: Get Hard & Furious 7

  1. MovieManJackson

    Loved what you said about Get Hard, the first 15-20 minutes do seem like they want to say something meaningful but never do. I still found it funny, but many gags ran on far too long and that plot of training for prison got old real quick.

    Like

    Reply
  2. seanathant

    Great article and great comparison. I never noticed how diverse the cast of Fast & Furious is and that is really how it should be, isn’t it? As you said, in F&F the diversity is just a normal thing and not a source of comedy or a plot point. Get Hard is the total opposite by being lazy in that way which really is a missed opportunity.

    Like

    Reply
  3. ruth

    Interesting points here about race in the movies. Who knew that the Fast & Furious franchise end up being the most progressively diverse movies in Hollywood? Even most of the directors are non-white.

    Like

    Reply
  4. isabellamorgan

    Great reviews! I heard pretty much the same thing from my local newspaper about Get Hard but this is the first I’ve read on Furious 7. I’ve seen most of them but never really noticed what you mention about the race – it’s not a big deal to me what race people are – and you’re so right. They never bat an eyelash about where people come from which is odd for a Hollywood movie. They’re just… people.
    Thanks so much for this, Jay!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Val

    Well wow, second time in a week that this blog has fuelled my desire to watch the Furious movies. I agree with the prejudice thing in movies and all that you say about it. Thje patitng on the back. Ugh! Just BE. Nice one.

    Like

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Daddy’s Home | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

  7. Pingback: Jay’s Top Cinematic Moments of 2015 | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s