Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gran Torino

Well I don't even know how to start with this one. It wasnt on my Oscar list, but some friends asked us to go with them. I think by the previews you can tell Clint Eastwood is the main character, the old, mad, mean neighbor that hates everyone because of some tragedy he has had in his earlier life. Clint plays Walt, a Koren war veteran that has major issues with Asian people because of his experiences in the war. He uses racial slurs throughout the entire movie. Mainly ones I was not familiar with, most were aimed at Asian people. The movie was set in Detroit. I was not familiar that there was a large concentration of Asians in Detroit. I am familiar with the huge Middle Eastern community in Detroit, but not a single Middle Eastern person in the movie. Hmong people were the main Asian group of this movie. They were described by the main character as Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai people. So anyway, Walt calls them racial slurs the whole time, even after befriending them. I didn't care to hear the slurs the entire time, but what bothered me most was how hilarious the audience found it. I mean he used the words over and over and they were silly sounding, but after the fourth or fifth time hearing the silly slurs, the audience still found it super funny. In one scene Walt says something like 'We used to stack bodies of people (insert slang) like you and use them as sand bags". The crowd was roaring with laughter.  I had to lean over to Tony and ask, "Is this funny?" He wasn't laughing. 

I don't think I am overly sensitive, but it really offended me. I was trying to step back and decide did the audience find it funny bc there isn't a huge Asian influence here in Memphis? And they kinda thought it was okay? I would say the largest minority group are African Americans here in Memphis. There were black characters in the movie, but not once was the N-word used. So my thoughts are if the N-word was, would the audience still be laughing out loud? Was it bc Asian slurs aren't common so it was okay to laugh? Its not okay to target any single group at all. I know I was very, very uncomfortable in this movie with the audience reaction and I am Middle Eastern. Tony didn't like it and he is African American. My Caucasian friends that also saw it, enjoyed the movie and found the slurs funny. One of my friends even called me of the the silly slurs when walked out of the movie. He meant it in a funny tone and wasn't aiming it at me in particular, but does that make it okay, bc it was a funny word? I haven't stopped thinking about that movie and the audience reaction since. I guess I have been on this 'Obama High' and have just been so happy that this country is changing and moving in the right direction, so this just slapped me in the face. I'm curious if anyone else has seen this movie and if they noticed this. I got on some message boards and read some of the Gran Torino comments and 3 or 4 people said the exact same things I did, they found it odd that the audience found the slurs so funny. I caught myself looking around and 95% of everyone in the theatre was Caucasian. This wasn't my normal theatre either, we saw this movie at the Paradiso, which is in East Memphis. 

I would love for everyone to travel to a place, country, whatever it might be and be a minority for a day, a week a month and just notice how it feels. I don't know if this would help people, but I just cant think of anyway to put it. Making fun of someone bc they are different just isn't funny. Gosh, this sounds like I'm talking to some children...

7 comments:

Leon Basin said...

One of the best movies, I have seen in a long, long time..

Lauren said...

I agree with you and I am white. It's not funny whomever you are. I guess we all forget - do onto others as you would have done to you.

special k said...

Had this movie been made with blacks as the minority rather than the Hmong, the audience would have spent the whole movie cringing rather than laughing at the constant racist slurs. It is unsettling when you realize laughter is coming at the expense of overt racism. On the other hand, the movie contains alot of substance; it shows the transformation of a man who realizes he has more in common with this family of another race than he does with his own. It gives you alot to think about and I would recommend seeing it.

laura said...

Son of a gun!I haven't seen this but I was assuming it was about someone who manages to overcome his prejudices etc...I can understand that someone like that would use racial slurs but I can't understand why anyone would laugh!Could they be laughing like we did at Archie Bunker? I remember just cringing at the things he said and when I laughed it was because he was so clueless and looked so foolish! I do plan on seeing it though and now I'm anxious to find out what I think.

Kembree said...

Walt does overcome his hatred for the Hmong people, but still uses the slurs to the very end. There is some good meaning to the movie, and it was hard for me to concentrate on the movie itself. I think I will rent it and watch it at home when it comes out. My mind was wondering with the audience reaction, but please everyone go see it and tell me your experience. Again there is a good message there, just the audience I was watching it with didnt get it, or they just found the movie to be a comedy! I like the Archie Bunker analogy..

rebecca said...

I haven't seen the movie, so I can't say. (I always look to your blog to find out how movies are!) I'm glad you say what you think. I think that we are on an Obama high and I really hope things will change.

Michelle said...

I haven't seen the movie so I can't directly comment on that but I like your closing thought about going to another country. You naturally learn a lot about other cultures but if you're paying attention you learn a lot about yourself from travel. I think that could make a difference for people.