Head of State (1)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


 I went to this expecting to see what would happen if a black comedian was elected President and expecting to like it.  That shows how gullible I am.  First, it’s not about what would happen if a black man gets elected.  It’s about a black man’s campaign to be elected.  And I didn’t like it.

 Chris Rock is a Washington DC Alderman who’s drafted to be the party’s candidate for President when the real candidate dies in an airplane accident.  Rock’s picked because the party leader wants to run in the next election so he wants someone who doesn’t stand a chance. This is, I imagine, supposed to be satire.  But if dying is easy and comedy is hard, satire is much more difficult.  It requires intelligence, a sense of irony, and caustic wit.  Head of State might have qualified if it weren’t so dumb, lacking in irony, and cluelessly witless.  To call it “stupid” doesn’t do it justice.

 Worse, it’s egalitarianly racist.  There’s not an admirable white person in the entire film.  But what’s really remarkable is that there’s only one admirable black person in the film, and it’s not Rock, but the girl he’s pursuing (sorry, I can’t figure out what her name is or  was in the film and can’t get it from production notes, either, but it’s not Robin Givens).  If this exact film had been produced and directed by a white man, Rock would be leading Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton and all the other rabble-rousers to boycott it because of its racial stereotypes.

 Rock pictures a world that couldn’t possibly exist because everybody is so doltish and venal they’d have a hard time figuring out how to eat to stay alive. Compounding the ills of this film, Rock can’t help but telegraph his political beliefs, which are numbingly superficial, juvenile, and ill-informed (but, then, he’s “Hollywood,” so what else is new?).

 Rock produced, wrote, directed and stars in this thing.  That’s four strikes, one more than needed for an ignominious “out!”

 April 9, 2003

 The End