Pin It
Favorite

Take Two 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Norbit & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & Y & lt;/span & ou wanna watch a fat chick break a bed by jumping on it? Wanna watch her barely squeeze into an inflatable bouncy castle, then eventually deflate it with her girth? Wanna watch her breasts honk the horn of her too-small car as she struggles to drive?





If the fat chick were actually Eddie Murphy, would you want to watch then?


OK, all right. You need persuading. How about this: Before there's ever a fat chick onscreen, there's an old Chinese guy named Mr. Wong. He runs an orphanage out of his wonton palace. The kids play with the restaurant's chickens like they're pets (watch out for bird flu, you little scamps!), only to have the poultry beheaded in front of their eyes.





When Norbit (also Eddie Murphy) is flung from a passing car onto Wong's doorstep, the man laments that he'll never be able to get the kid adopted because he's both ugly and black. He says things like, "Ohhhh, rou vary brack, and vary ugry. No run rill adropt rou becrause you so brack... and so ugry," replacing every third consonant with an "r," reminders that Wong is some sort of Asian in addition to being some kind of racist. Then we realize Wong's not even played by an Asian actor. He's Eddie Murphy playing an Asian man playing a grotesque Oriental caricature.





In Norbit, creators Eddie and Charlie Murphy (he of Chappelle's Show) have given us a 102-minute minstrel show. It's tough to recognize initially, because rather than just acting in metaphorical black face, Murphy's hobbling around in Asian face as well. And fat black face.





Is that the worst part, the borderline racism? Or is it the fact that Norbit isn't funny at all? I honestly didn't laugh once. Not as the fat people ate obnoxiously, squeezed in places, broke stuff and farted at inopportune times; not as the Asian people prepared food in unsanitary conditions and wore their biases on their sleeves; not as the blacks ate their ribs, drank their wine coolers, whored out their women and faked pregnancies to keep their men.





Then there's Norbit himself, who is, strangely, none of the above. Ostensibly black, his slight build, concave chest and sleeve-worn neuroses make him out far more as an Afro'ed Woody Allen. He's accepted by his white neighbors and the Asian restaurateur more easily than any of the black people in the movie -- except for the love interest, she has to be black. (Wouldn't want to suggest a cross-pollination of the races.)





The brothers should have painted Murphy's face white, cast Brittany Murphy as the nicotine-stained trailer nymph who steals him away from his fat black perdition and called it a day.





Dave Chappelle (who did more for Charlie Murphy's credibility as a comedian than Eddie ever did) tried to overturn this tendency to stereotype. Using misdirection and a sense of the absurd to play on societal prejudices while also playing to them, he exposed biases by ramping up the ludicrousness and discomfort until we had no choice but to laugh at the incongruence. He got us to say, effectively, "It's funny how we stereotype." People mistook that deft commentary, though for the bludgeon wielded in films like Norbit, which merely seeks to say "stereotypes are funny."





No wonder Chappelle went crazy.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Crash > Click > Cash
  • Crash > Click > Cash

    Lawyers and chiropractors already have your name, your address and the police report from your car accident — and they want you to hire them
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Starting Small
  • Starting Small

    A village of tiny houses in Spokane Valley could serve as a model for fighting homelessness in the region
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Drastic Action
  • Drastic Action

    Spokane among seven school districts sued by State Superintendent of Public Instruction; plus, trio of police-chief finalists are in town
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap

Spokane Artist Trading Card Swap @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Wednesday of every month

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Lane Ends Ahead

    Spokane wants to improve a mile-long section of Monroe — but that means taking away two lanes
    • Jul 7, 2016
  • Too Smart for School

    What happens when a 12-year-old prodigy tries to go to college in Spokane?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone


marijuana


Briefs


election 2016


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • A New Voice
  • A New Voice

    The Black Lens, continues Spokane's long tradition of African-American publications
    • Jan 21, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation