Saturday, February 12, 2005

A 'Hitch' In My Step

[This is mostly a posting so that people who accidentally stop by this blog before it really exists have something to read and shouldn't necessarily be interpreted as being the kind of thing that this blog will always publish if it ever becomes a regular piece of my life, or anybody else's.]

Several meditations on Hitch:

I'm vaguely troubled by the underlying racial stereotyping that make up the root of the film's plot. The premise of the African-American male who possesses a magical font of knowledge in all matters sexual and sensual is one that goes back centuries and which has, at times, been used as a source of fear and bigotry. I'm not comparing Hitch to Birth of a Nation or any other depiction of black males as sex-crazed predators because that would be kinda idiotic of me, but I think that they stem from the same root, however much evolved the message of Hitch is. After all, Kevin James' character, from what I can tell, doesn't want to lynch Will Smith's character, he wants to learn from him and take a piece of his life's essence for his own benefit. At least he probably pays him. I think that may be what prevents Hitch from being the romantic equivalent of The Legend of Bagger Vance in addition to the fact that, so far as I know, Smith's Hitch isn't supposed to be a representation of Jesus, while Bagger Vance was a darned near divine character. Oh and from what the reviews have told me, Hitch isn't awful. Bagger Vance very nearly made me want to jump out of the plane I was on to avoid it. Some people in this place may want to tell me that I could have just taken off my headphones and read a book, but I don't play that way. If I'm on a plane, I watch the freakin' movie. Otherwise, how would I have seen Like Mike, Head Over Heals and the lesser works of Kate Hudson (Raising Helen and Alex and Emma in particular).

Oh, so going back to my point about the racial dynamics of Hitch: I think that the idea of the sexually super-potent black man helping stiff, soul-less white dudes find their mojo is a bit like if somebody were to make a movie about an effete, intellectual British dude whose job it is to teach gangsta rappers how to be "civilized." Let's say Richard Grant and 50 Cent? I guess that's sortta what the plot of Trading Places was. I'm not sayin' Hitch is racist, just that it plays on a tradition that may well be problematic. It's doubtful that the American theatregoers, who celebrated the release of Boogeyman last week, are really going to get up in arms about the subtext of Hitch and I'm not convinced that they should. I'm just saying what bothers me. Oh and some white guys can totally dance and don't need Will Smith to teach them. Not me, though. I need all the help I can get.

On the other hand, I find it quite progressive that Sony has made a romance with an African-American male lead and a Latina female lead and it's getting a wide release and it isn't being niche marketed to an "urban" audience. Hitch is going to be a hit because it's going to play well in Middle America, which has to be an advance of some sort. Smith may want to be wary of those "Black Cary Grant" reviews he's getting. It seems like just yesterday that Eddie Murphy was saying that he was going to be the "Black Cary Grant" in Boomerang or the "Black Jimmy Stewart" in Distinguished Gentleman and then he ceased to be, well, anything of any relevance.

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