Chris Rock to become your new Black Friend?

Chris RockLionsgate Films and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films have joined forces for a most unusual rights purchase… or at least that’s what I once thought. According to Variety, they obtained the live-action screen adaptation rights to an article that appeared in GQ magazine called “Will You Be My Black Friend?” as a possible starring vehicle for comedian Chris Rock.

Written by the magazine’s senior correspondent Devin Friedman back in November 2008, the surface goal of the article was for Friedman to acquire more than one friend who was black:

I had a cocktail party the other night. A natural moment to look around at the demographics of your life. And I thought: Jesus Christ, there are a lot of white people in this room. I’ve always thought of the whiteness of my adult life as a temporary condition. Like somehow all these white people have been foisted on me; pretty soon it’ll change; it’s probably my wife’s fault. But it’s time to acknowledge that I’ve become a character in a Wes Anderson movie. I wear white tennis sneakers from the ’70s. I listen to ambient music. I have dinner parties where I serve Spanish rosé and this softer version of mozzarella that has a lovely, almost liquid center that you can only get at the Italian import store. I do yoga, and I get excited when it’s ramp season. Sometimes I’d really like to punch myself in the face. (You might argue that I’m not describing “whiteness” but “arugula-ness”; but when black people have this lifestyle, they get accused of being white.) I used to make jokes about “look at us here at the weekend house in the Catskills in our blazers and sneakers eating the braised pork shoulder from the Jamie Oliver cookbook with the David Gray on in the background—aren’t we like that Amstel Light commercial?” You know that Amstel Light commercial about the white people’s country weekend—it’s white-people pornography. But I stopped making the joke, because it stopped being a joke. Because I stopped noticing it.

Friedman’s writing is both satirical and serious because while reading the entire piece, I found myself confronting my own racism issues. I live in an area just south of Bedford-Stuyvesant (formerly one of the most dangerous parts of Brooklyn) at the north end of Crown Heights, and before that I lived in Harlem, Bushwick, and Flatbush. In each of those neighborhoods, I always felt out of place because not only was I the only Asian person in the neighborhood, I know that I’m what they call a “banana”: yellow on the outside, white on the inside.

Like Friedman, I have a few black friends and most of my friends are white, and just like him, I do worry and wonder about the fact that by not expanding my social circle enough, I am contributing to a “re-segregating” of the races. In my particular case, there’s also a fear that I am continuing a cycle of colonialism that began with the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. At least the natives killed him, and on my birthday, too!

To see this in Winfrey’s hands and starring Chris Rock, whose stand-up routines and new documentary Good Hair already touches on these issues? Would be pretty hilarious and definitely a movie I’d want to see.

Posted on October 7, 2009 at 06:03 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: News

5 Responses

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  1. Written by transient
    on 2009-10-07 at 09:46
    Permalink

    I don't think it's necessarily about 'racism' as finding people with common interests. I don't want to hang out with someone because they're black any more than I want to avoid them because of it.

    Fact is, by caring that your (not you specifically Gordon) friends are predominantly white, you're caring about peoples race, and in drawing that line between races, encouraging that segregation. Ideally you wouldn't notice, wouldn't care, and would just live the life you enjoy, be it Wes Anderson or Tyler Perry style.

    And in the living of your life, hopefully you find yourself surrounded by people with common interests you can respect, regardless of race.

  2. Written by gmcalpin
    on 2009-10-07 at 09:59
    Permalink

    I didn't write this post; Trisha Lynn did. :)

    And I'm totally not racist. Some of my best friends are white.

  3. Written by drhalpinstein
    on 2009-10-10 at 09:43
    Permalink

    All I can honestly contribute (As a white guy in a hugely white country (though that has been changing in the past 15-ish years)) is that calling someone a banana could pass for a homophobic comment too.

  4. Written by Joe
    on 2009-10-22 at 16:32
    Permalink

    That's why the buzzword is now “diversity” — we don't know what we're missing when we limit our worldview to that of one or two races. Just as some city folks might not realize they'd enjoy NASCAR and a brew, or some country folks might not know they'd really dig arugula.

    Ignoring race is not the same as not being racist. From my perspective, it seems that American society has shifted over the last 20 years from trying to become color-blind to trying to be color-respectful. I agree, stereotyping (blacks like this, whites like that) doesn't help, but ignoring our differences (or not even being aware of them) isn't the right way to go, either.

  5. Written by Joe
    on 2009-10-22 at 20:32
    Permalink

    That's why the buzzword is now “diversity” — we don't know what we're missing when we limit our worldview to that of one or two races. Just as some city folks might not realize they'd enjoy NASCAR and a brew, or some country folks might not know they'd really dig arugula.

    Ignoring race is not the same as not being racist. From my perspective, it seems that American society has shifted over the last 20 years from trying to become color-blind to trying to be color-respectful. I agree, stereotyping (blacks like this, whites like that) doesn't help, but ignoring our differences (or not even being aware of them) isn't the right way to go, either.

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