Chris Rock is the epitome of comedy stardom in Hollywood today, as he's able to balance paycheck pictures like the Grown Ups series with films that are true passion projects for him. He writes, he acts, and he directs, and can tell any story that he sets his mind to. The same logic applies when Rock turns his thoughts to demolishing something that just doesn't seem right, and if you're the head of a major studio, you might want to read what Chris Rock has to say about 42: The Jackie Robinson Story.
IGN shared an exclusive clip from the bonus features to Chris Rock's latest directorial effort, Top Five. In the clip, Chris Rock dissects the film that put star Chadwick Boseman on the map, and it’s delivered through one of his patented comedy bits. In particular, there's one remark we've singled out below that stands out in Rock's grievances against films dealing with civil rights - and it's all about where these films tend to focus. Said Rock,
Any civil rights movie, there's two heroes: there's the black hero, and the white person who's ‘equally’ as important.
A reference to the role played by Harrison Ford opposite Chadwick Boseman, this is little bit of exaggeration, but there's a whole lot of truth in it - and an even delivery by Chris Rock make this argument something to be seen. You can watch the performance in the video below, and it's highly recommended that you do, simply because Rock's comments play so much better in the context of his act.
Chris Rock does have a point, though, and like 42 or not, there almost always does seem to be a white hero that saves their inspirational black counterpart in these kinds of historical films. In particular, The Blind Side is guilty of this sin, as it focuses way too much on Sandra Bullock's Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family's efforts to bring up "Big Mike" Oher. Did the filmmakers not once think that, perhaps, it'd be more interesting to focus on Big Mike's story, and show the Tuohy's as a family of kind hearted side characters? You'd lose none of the award nominations, and you'd gain actual inner turmoil and struggle, instead of a film that gets just a little too congratulatory.
Of course, not all stories of sports and race focus solely on the "white savior" complex, and to this day one of the best examples of such a film is Remember The Titans. With a mixed supporting cast that gets equal screen time, and a main focus on Denzel Washington's coach Herman Boone, Remember The Titans succeeds in being uplifting, without having to rely on one half of the cast's racial quotient. Though now that we're on the subject, one can't help but wonder what Chris Rock would think of When The Game Stands Tall, especially considering the film supposedly sets up the death of one of their black players as a catalyst for the team's changing fate.
One would hope that after a bit like this, some heads would turn in Hollywood and things would start to change drastically in the industry's depiction of such stories. But if you know how Hollywood really works, you're probably already laughing and crying about that last statement.
Top Five will be available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD on March 17th.