Five Recurring Black Comedy Characters Who Need To Die » VSB

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Five Recurring Black Comedy Characters Who Need To Die

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Lebron James isn’t having the greatest week. His Cavs are struggling and now the Progressive ad featuring him as “Flobron” is receiving heat.

From The Root:

One quick look at the Instagram comments on Progressive’s page shows that some people feel the ad campaign is derogatory to black men. Instagram user generalsdaughter wrote:

There were absolutely NO OTHER CONCEPTS that could have been shot for this ad? It just HAD to come down to a black male athlete in drag?  #agenda #emasculation #itsinthecontract

Now, is this concept offensive? I don’t know. I’m not the best person to answer that sort of question. But, I do know one thing: This concept just isn’t funny enough to be used as often as it is. I just can’t think of a time I’ve seen a Black man and thought to myself: “You know what would be hilarious? Him in a dress!!” But, again, it keeps happening.

Anyway, thinking about this brought to mind a few more consistently unfunny comedy characters who either frequently appear in Black movies or are frequently played Black actors/actresses; recurring tropes that seem to get less and less funny every time they’re used and probably need to die.

1. The big Black man in drag

Can still draw laughs, but is funny the same way the McRib is tasty. Even if enjoying it you can’t help but think it was made with bat meat.

2. The big, mean Black woman scaring everyone with her big, mean Black woman-ness

I can not find an instance when this has ever been funny. Seriously, is it never not not funny. I have no idea why comedy writers keep relying on it. But it keeps happening. And keeps happening. And keeps happening. 

3. The super, duper horny perpetually single Black woman scaring everyone with her super, duper horny perpetually single Black woman-ness

Because no one has ever actually said “I want to sop him up with some biscuits and gravy!” except for every super, duper horny perpetually single Black woman character who’s ever been on screen. (Maybe your great aunt said it once too, but it doesn’t count because she was talking about Roberto Clemente)

4. The bumbling thug

Thugs can be funny. I mean, I heard someone say “Young Thug is the future of rap” the other day and it made me choke on my orange juice. But the idiot crooks who can’t shoot straight — let’s just call them “Plexicos” — is a comedic crutch relied on a bit too much.  Barbershop — which remains one of the most underrated movies ever — almost derailed the entire picture by focusing too much screen time on a couple neighborhood thugs no one gave a damn about trying to do something no one gave a damn about.

5. The currently incarcerated or recently released inmate with one mission in life: rape men

Ok, I’ll admit that Charlie Murphy’s “Tyree” from The Chappelle Show’s Real World parody was hilarious. I actually just took a 10 minute break from writing this to watch that sketch again. But the “don’t drop the soap” joke is only funny if you don’t think about what’s actually implied to happen if the soap is dropped.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • pls

    NOOOOOO LEBRONNNNNN! huuum

    i could go real deep, but people need to start asking themselves why these pale hollywood production MEN enjoy seeing men in drag SOOO much.

    We already know they are going to portray these images of blacks as long as they walk the earth; why do you think they let Tyler Perry have so much success?

    Dave Chappelle talked about it in his interview with ole buddy on inside the actors studio. There is def an agenda to push certain images of us, not only to try to keep us down, but also because those hollywood people are just into some sick ish.

    • Meridian

      Sometimes it p*sses me off the actors read the script and took the role just as much as it does that someone wrote such a representation. I’d pay money to see a black actor throw a script at a writer like “wtf is this?!”

      • Thriftybynature

        This brought joy to my heart for that reason. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy0zJTuiVjU

        • He who thinks before he speaks

          I was just thinking about that interview. That’s why I support Denzel in most anything he does.

          • Thriftybynature

            Me too!

        • Meridian

          Exactly! Point out the flaw and turn down the role. Something greater will come along and hopefully you starve such a misrepresentation out of existence. This gave me awl the life.

    • I can tell you why. They think of Black people (men and women) as these hypermasculine beasts because we don’t have the narrower features that White people have. Plus dark skin in White eyes equals hard work, and we can’t help but be dark.

    • Wild Cougar

      This sounds primative, but its fear of the big black D. I know, I know that’s really, ridiculous, but check it. You got a bunch of white dudes who can’t jump and probably don’t lay pipe too well running Hollywood. What have they envied and hated all their pale little lives? No matter how many generations of abuse and brutality they throw at black men, they can’t make women stop really really wanting them, even if kinda secretly. That is the main thing that gets under the skin of the powerful. The raison d’etre, the push and motivation to get money and power. Its to make women want the D. And there’s always some big, ahtletic, swaggerific black dude with nothing to his name who can just look in the direction of most women and, in their minds, condensation occurs. That sounds like a bunch of fantastic fantasy, but it’s how men’s minds work. If they can put the big black D in a dress, maybe, just maybe, they will look more masculine in comparison.

      • Meridian

        I think it’s more than s*xual though. I think black men have a raw essence that is powerful and would easily overpower any other man. It’s why people feel the need to consistently check and regulate them. You don’t want a black man Django-ing the power structure and being swooned over in that capacity. You also don’t want black women smirking at everyone because they’re the partner of the most powerful man.

      • iphone300

        100% true. Sometimes I wonder if the first white people to go to Africa saw a black guy with a big dick and was like “Oh hell no we need to shut this shit down ASAP! We need to enslave these people RIGHT NOW!!!!!. We need to lock them up take away there culture destroy there identity and make them for get where they came from!!!!!

        • dadumdee

          That kind of happened. I had a college class back in 95 that covered the writings of Dutch explorers in the 1600’s and it was pretty much that. They also presumed them to be hypersexual because of their clothing.

  • TheOtherJerome

    1. The big Black man in drag

    Lord Jamar is that you? This is a non issue.

    However this:
    5. The currently incarcerated or recently released inmate with one mission in life: rape men

    This and everything surrounding incarceration in this country is a MAJOR issue. It’s not funny and it’s actually designed to handcuff (pun intended) our people.
    Luckily we’re voting for representation that will address this issue…. oh, wait……

    • Amber

      Yes. I never understood what people found so funny about jail/prison. Those types of supposedly humorous situations are actually reality for a significant portion of black men and women not to mention their families.

    • Jay

      Lord Jamar is that you? This is a non issue.

      It is NOT a non-issue. Dave Chappelle, amongst many others has brought this up. It’s subtle but if you look it is there. Why is it so prevalent? It can’t be a coincidence.

    • That last point though…WORD. You can’t complain about the man holding you down when you gleefully let him choose someone whose whole JOB is to hold you down. Who needs Jim Crow when we can do it ourselves?

    • Don’t look at me, I’m in one of the few blue states left

  • Tx10inch

    But the “don’t drop the soap” joke is only funny if you don’t think about what’s actually implied to happen if the soap is dropped.

    Hey Champ,

    He thinks about it.

  • Meridian

    Black character tropes that need to go away:

    1. The sacrificial lamb. There’s always a black person dying for the greater good as if we’re inherently that selfless or our lives aren’t the greater good. Black people aren’t jumping in front of a bullet for anyone. Stop this.

    2. The overly jiggaboo token friend. Tap dancing at Starbucks because your white friends find it funny is just painful to watch. Movies always have a character doing self-deprecating things because it makes everyone else laugh. No.

    3. The nonsensical ghetto person. The teeth smacking, neck rolling, hand clapping woman who only contributes attitude and posturing totally misrepresents people who are actually from the hood. Really? There aren’t any other attributes you wanna highlight?

    4. The Madea’s. We all have that intense matriarch or Aunt but to overly emphasize the snappy, older woman thing is to minimize the qualities about such women that we actually value about them.

    5. The Jet Li black man of every day situations. Black men do not walk around antagonizing the h*ll out of every person they come across for every minor offense. They aren’t quick to violence or even prone to violence so I need Hollywood to stop finding humor in a black guy roughing up the bank teller, the butcher, and his teenage son.

    • IcePrincess

      Your #2 is being perpetuated right now in one if those insurance commercials; I can’t be bothered to remember which company it is. Anywayz, I can’t stand it, it makes my arm hairs stand up whenever I see it. It’s some ppl waiting in line at a deli. A big black guy in a football jersey starts dancing around, singing bout getting cold cuts. Everybody else in line is looking at him crazy. Idk, maybe I’m being too paranoid, but my spidey senses detect racism, & I’m not even the type to look for racism in every lil thing. Seems like the message is, “laugh at this bafoon making a fool out himself for no reason.”

      • cakes_and_pies

        That’s the Ickey Shuffle! That dance is legendary in the NFL. He did that dance at whenever he got a touchdown. But yeah, the overly enthusiastic “Happy negro” is bothersome.

        • IcePrincess

          Oh, ok. See, that explains a lot. I didn’t kno who it was. But that commercial still annoying as sh*t.

          • Val

            I had the same reaction, IP, until I really paid attention to it and realized who the guy was and why he was doing that.

            • Meridian

              Word. I side eyed the h*ll out of that until it registered what he was doing. What I’m talking about is more along the lines of someone doing something clearly racist, but the black character brushes it off because everyone around is laughing. Sort of like that one black person at the blackface party but in scripted form.

    • Brad G

      I kinda disagree with your first character. I like heroes. I especially like black heroes that ultimately lay their life on the line for their family and such. I don’t think media does enough to tell the stories of the sacrifices some black men and women make to keep the world spinning. Just my opinion though I agree with the rest.

      • Meridian

        I think that’s slightly different from what I’m talking about. I wouldn’t mind realistic stories being told about acts of bravery and character, actual heroes. Black heroes are usually that because they die on behalf of a white person. It’s a really subtle slight of hand that Hollywood uses over and over that the black character has to die in order to have value. It’s different from the hero that can never be touched or harmed, the one who always survives in the end.

        • Brad G

          Thanks for the clear up. I’ll have to look for that in movies now.

    • pls

      The poor black people content with living in substandard conditions cuz “that’s the way life is” or “the hood is where I belong” characters.

      the mother of the twins from the movie “dangerous minds” is an example. michelle pheiffer’s character makes a house visit to students who have missed a number of days in class. The boys’ mother angrily says she un-enrolled them from school because she didn’t see the point in them learning poetry in English class; poetry would not help them make a living or some bs. i hhhhhate characters like that.

  • Imoteda

    That SNL skit was actually painful to watch… maybe I’m sleepy but it was boring as heck and didn’t raise a single smirk from me much less a chuckle

    • Furious Styles

      Yeah. It was a big build-up…to nothing.

  • iamnotakata

    Bron looks horrible, that’s really all I have to add lol

  • Val

    .

  • Val

    Here’s one;

    – The Black woman customer service agent with a bad attitude.

    +1
    on the perpetually h*rny Black woman. BTW, that’s the role the Black
    women on daytime talk shows always play. Sherri Shepard played that
    role. Currently Loni Love and Sheryl Underwood both play that role.

    The thing to remember though is that for the most part none of these
    characters is written for the enjoyment of Black folks. And, White folks
    seem to love these characters. Which is why they haven’t died out.

    • Also Mo’nique…

      somewhere they started pitying the nerds and needed a new character to keep getting rejected for laughs

      • Val

        Yeah, there’s a list of actresses that play those roles.

    • Meridian

      “The thing to remember though is that for the most part none of these
      characters is written for the enjoyment of Black folks.”

      My thoughts exactly. There’s multiple ways to write black characters: how white people see us, how black people actually are, and how black people want to be represented. Most stories are told from how white people see us and because it’s so successful and widely popular, no one ever goes “you know…you suck at representing black people and you should fix it.”

      • Val

        Unfortunately almost all of the representations we see of ourselves in the media are a White persons distorted interpretation of who they think we are.

  • I’m going to talk about 2 and 3, more generally referred to as the Jezebel, because in my less-than-conservative romantic lifestyle, seeing the impact of that ish makes me go from New Black to Regular Black in 3.5 seconds flat. I just have the sense to walk away, count to 10, breathe and avoid straight race riots with White people with easy access to weapons and handcuffs. :)

    I hear so many White people in the scene I roll in talk about how being involved allows them to be themselves. Then I think about how Black women are treated and start thinking of Fanon. And DuBois. And Soul on Ice by Stokely Carmichael. Seriously, virtually every Black woman is treated like she’s some dominant hyper$exual beast, and if you aren’t, they’ll pressure them like f*ck to get them to act that way. They’ll give a sister a break ONLY if she looks like one of Black-women-White-guys-like, and even then, she’ll just get ignored. When they come out say they aren’t like that, I see the looks of surprise. Like wait…because broad doesn’t look like a straight mammy, she’s looking to top some “poor”, “pathetic” White guy (who on the low is controlling the whole situation)? No. F*ck no.

    Look, I know I’ve gone in on women on here. But I also know that Black women do have it rough. I find that stereotype jacked up as f*ck. Black women should have the right to be fully fledged humans, even with $ex. They shouldn’t have to be hemmed up into a role because they’ve dared to step out of the ghetto with their lip-smacking “ghettoness” (when the typical sister in the scene looks like they’ve just stepped out of one of Champ’s Bougie Black people satires). It’s unfair, it’s racist, and I have no time for that crap.

  • Tropes that need to cease

    1. Overprotective mother who is jealous of her sons girlfriend
    2. “Hackers” who just type fast and can apparently do anything (no a race trope but annoying)
    3. Old black men narrating exposition while the person they are talking about is doing something in slow motion
    4. Just about every character on “Power”
    5. Antagonists who always have some well meaning intention, just be evil

    • kidvideo

      lol at “Power”…I’ve only seen the first episode.

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