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Fri, Apr 19, 2019 2:24 PM

Poll Suggestion: Racist Characters

Which of these racist characters do you like least?


https://www.imdb.com/list/ls042436770/

Responses

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a year ago

All right, a few comments:

The question:

You obviously mean the most despicable racist? So there shouldn't be any "good guys" in the list, no matter how racist or bigoted they are, they go through an arc that ends up redeeming them, so they can't be put in the same basket with characters we're supposed to hate.

Characters to remove: 

1/ Gillepsie (Steiger) is not racist, he's prejudiced and his attitude reflects the mentality of his town, there are so many truly racist characters in the film that Gillepsie comes the closest to a good guy, which he is, all it takes is that journey with Tibbs to let his better self emerge. By the way since the question is about the racist we like the least, obviously the good guys are off. A similar example is Zeus (Jackson) in Die Hard With a Vengeance.

2/ Stephen (Jackson) is a sellout, not a racist, he embodies the racism of his Master, since you've got the Master, no need to have his servant. Stephen doesn't make any skull speech, he's just the right-hand man of a racist man but we don't know for sure whether he's driven by his hatred toward Blacks or his love for his Master.

3/ Albert (Glover) is a misogynistic prick and a bully but not a racist. 

4/ Worley (Hopper) makes a speech about Sicilians having "Black" blood to upset the Mafioso (Walken) and accelerate his death, if anything, Walken is the racist one but his racism is only anecdotical in the story, there's no need to have both.

5/ Kowalski belongs to a poll about racist characters we actually like, which means they're not so racist, there's no way someone can watch the whole movie and end up hating Walt, so he doesn't belong to this poll, from the way the question is asked. Same with Ryan (Dillon) in Crash. Both Walt and Ryan are heroic in the film.

6/ Pino in Do The Right Thing doesn't display a worse racism than any of the major protagonists, they're all equally prejudiced and racist to some extent but it's unfair to cast that stone on him, I think there must be a standout racist character in a film to really include him in your list.

Title:

There should be a second adjective, either "Memorable" or "Despicable" racist characters, the title put like that with these two words make it look like a poll-tribute to racist characters, there should be either a neutral or a subjective term to show that this is an anti-homage to bad characters, which takes me back to the second argument, no good guys.

FYC

Juror 10
Amon Goeth (or maybe you should specify non-Nazi or KKK characters)

6.2K Messages

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153.4K Points

I was wondering some similar things, but could not quite articulate them.

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I agree 100 % that Rod Steiger's character in In The Heat Of The Night was not a racist man. He grew up in a small town, in a time and place where black people were considered simply inferior. So he's conditioned, in a way, to act like those around him. His first reaction to everything suggests that he's very much like them.

However, it's also very clear that he starts to admire Tibbs once he sees how his mind works (although he'd never openly admit it, especially to himself). He allows him some space to work his own way, and is open minded about both his own conclusions and those of Tibbs. He's interested in how police work is done on a higher level.

Yes, he's loud mouthed and doesn't miss a chance to verbally abuse Tibbs, but only to follow it by agreeing to do what he suggests. As the film progresses, he actually starts to talk to Tibbs like his equal, asking his opinion, etc. He doesn't actually hate Tibbs, so much as he hates the fact that he himself is a middle aged man living alone, stuck in a small town. That's my interpretation.

He's basically a good guy, although that "good" is buried deep inside. You realize soon enough that what he wants first and foremost is to find the real killer, as opposed to everyone else in the town. He's an honest cop. "Prejudiced" as you say, is the best term to explain his attitude.

It's a very nuanced performance and a rather complex character, and although I think that the Oscars have been a joke for a long time, Steiger was one of the very few who actually deserved it.

Champion

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I don't agree with most of ElMo's perspectives but I think he's probably right about Albert (Glover) from 'The Color Purple.' Although I've seen the film several times, I haven't seen it in a while so originally I just figured that I must not have remembered his racism. My very first recollection, though, was that he was certainly misogynist and cruel with no moral compass but not racist. 

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All the corrections done. Since there is Amon Goeth in the list I included Hitler as well.

Champion

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I wouldn't include Goeth: it's hard to imagine a more morally reprehensible character but his thoughts about race, specifically, aren't ever depicted, unless I'm forgetting something. He is virulently and murderously anti-Semitic but all of the Jews that we see in the film are white and his hate is directed toward their ethnicity and religion, which are both different than race. 

I think this is very important not in terms of the character but in terms of the definitions of the word "race."

My other feedback, like ElMo's, is a matter of perspective and is therefore less important but I would also suggest not removing the other characters  For example, I agree with Elmo that Stephen's motives are unclear but it is as clear as it could possibly be that his actions and attitudes are not simply about fearing for his life. Elmo doesn't contend that Stephen fears for his life and I would argue, and not just academically, that other motives are mostly irrelevant. The tile is racist characters and Stephen's actions and portrayed attitudes are racist. Is he as morally culpable as the other characters? Of course not (not even close: that he has free will is doubtful) but the title is "racist characters" and he is indeed racist. ElMo's argument about Stephen is, indeed, compelling, though, and I at least mostly agree with what ElMo says about Stephen. I diverge only about whether Stephen is suitable for this list and that's arguable. 

I could understand leaving Stephen off the list due to the question of free will. I disagree much more with the omission of a few of the other characters but I unfortunately am so tired that I'm nodding off so I better close my computer so that my cat doesn't have free reign to the keyboard, lol. 

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It's probably not mentioned explicitly in the film but according to Nazi ideology (and Göth was a member of the Nazi party, of course), Jews constituted a "sub-human" race. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism_and_race

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Bruno Ganz's portrayal of Adolf Hitler is extremely iconic, but it is story covering a part and aspect of Hitler's life where there are zero references to white supremacy or looking down upon non-Caucasian people, trying to hold northern "Germanic" folks above all. I'm sure there may have been an anti-Jewish remark or two, but that is about it, as the Reich officials' focus would be on the Allied Powers military advancements instead. This is why I did not recommend Hitler, because I'm unsure which particular portrayal (of many) best fits, as I've hardly seen any of those many portrayals. (I've not even seen Guinness' or Hopkins', yet I've come to be aware of these.) We'd almost be better off just including a photograph the actual man, perhaps a screenshot of one of his "pro-German" speeches, except we are looking for characters in fictions or biopics/reenactments, not people in newsreels and documentaries.

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118.5K Points

I prefer to keep Bruno Ganz image because I think this is the most popular portrayal, thanks anyway.

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I prefer to keep Bruno Ganz image because I think this is the most popular portrayal, thanks anyway.

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Added

6.2K Messages

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Right. How could I forget?

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All the suggestions added.

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4 months ago

bump

Champion

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4 months ago

Paok, I'm assuming you want to keep Goeth and Hitler, which makes a lot of sense, but I think you should really add "anti-Semitic" to the intro (and possibly the title), as well. The Nazis may have called Jews an inferior race but that doesn't mean that Jews actually constitute a race. Also, some of the other characters are not only racist but virulently anti-Semitic, as well, as the two so often go together (for instance, with any KKK member, Nazi, Neo-Nazi, or White Supremicist). 

I think it would be remiss to not include "anti-Semitic." 

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There could be an interesting debate about that.

Hitler wrote on 13th 1945 (Translated): 
Our racism is only aggressive towards the Jewish race. We speak of the Jewish race for convenience of language, because there is not, strictly speaking, and from the point of view of genetics, of the Jewish race ... The Jewish race is above all a mental race [. ..] A mental race is something more solid, more durable than just a race. Transplant a German to the United States, you make an American. The Jew, wherever he goes, remains a Jew. It is a being by nature unassimilable. And it is this very character which makes it unfit for assimilation, which defines its race. Here is a proof of the superiority of the spirit on the chair!


Personally, I think that we can't dissociate the word antisemitism with the word racism, antisemitism is a form of racism. Separating them would be comparing them, and that is not what I would do.

In fact, they consider Jews as part of an inferior race, by definition this is racist. 

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118.5K Points

Done

950 Messages

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Ruby, do you go by the US census categories? "Jewish" is not among them, but I'm not sure that it's a realiable basis.

Wikipedia:

The United States Supreme Court unanimously held that "race" is not limited to Census designations on the "race question" but extends to all ethnicities, and thus can include Jewish, Arab, Italian, Hungarian, Laotian, Zulu, etc.

950 Messages

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And outside of census categories and self-identification, we're back to the fact that races do not exist at all...

1.6K Messages

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I  agree with you albstein, Science as proved that there is only one race, the human race, separating "races" is racist. 

In fact, there is no list of races, the fact that Hitler believed that Jews were an inferior race proves that he was racist.

Read this article: https://www.annefrank.org/en/topics/antisemitism/antisemitism-form-racism/

4.1K Messages

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125.9K Points

4 months ago

Once again are we voting for the character we judge the most morally reprehensible?

Or the one we consider the most racist according to our own definition of the term?

Or are we simply voting for the best performance as a racist character?

What is our basis of judgement exactly: unlikability or racism?

Suppose someone gives his vote to that bigoted gal from "The Help", would that mean that the voter consider Hitler less unlikable which means more likable than her?

Also Derek Vinyard becomes a good guy at the end... that alone make him less unlikable than the others...

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118.5K Points

I'll change the question to 'who gave the best performance'.

4.1K Messages

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I think that's better but maybe you should narrow it down to roles that earned acting accolades to tgeir performers, no?

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I dont think that's necessary

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4 months ago


FYC: Sam from Desierto

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Added

Champion

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4 months ago

1 Message

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100 Points

4 months ago

I'll always take Brad Dourif when he's an option.