Go See “American Fiction”

If you follow the Academy Awards. . . okay, stop right there! I know what you’re thinking after just six words: Who is their right mind would give a tinker’s cuss about the Oscars any more? I get it, but indulge me a bit.

If you follow the Academy Awards, you’ll know they have instituted a “diversity” requirement to qualify to be a nominee for Best Picture, by which is meant “people of color” in key positions in the film—actors, screenwriter, director, producer, etc. Oppenheimer is the clear front-runner for the Best Picture award, and deservedly so, though it is hard to see on the surface how it qualifies for the “diversity” criteria. But I suppose with the huge crew required to produce a movie like Oppenheimer it was not hard for the Oscar bean counters to find enough people of color in the closing credits to shoehorn the movie past the “diversity” filter.

One Best Pictures nominee that qualifies on the “merits” demanded by the diversity commissars is “American Fiction.” It features a black cast, black screenwriter, and black director. I noted the film here back in October when the first trailer came out (posted below for reference), noting that it seemed like an anti-woke film.

I have now seen it in the theater, and it is a superb piece of filmmaking. It does indeed make woke white liberals look foolish and idiotic, but it does so with a two-track story that is quite effective. And it is all the more effective for making its critique with a slow-rolling back story.

It is worth contrasting “American Fiction” with “An American Carol,” a satire of the left that David Zucker (of “Airplane” flame) made back in 2008, starring Kelsey Grammer and other A-listers. (Trailer below.) It was a direct attack on Michael Moore and his popular style of leftism. And while the film had lots of great set-piece jokes and musical numbers mocking the left, it wasn’t very good overall because it attempted to be a full-frontal assault, and had no subtlety.

“American Fiction” pairs its main story line of a black author who rejects wokeness with the extended story of his somewhat dysfunctional upper-middle class family in Boston. And the point is, the family’s dysfunctions and frictions make them . . . entirely normal, and not some example of the supposed pathologies and oppressions of “blackness” in America. The film both explicitly and implicitly rejects the racial stereotyping of our time in an effectively subtle way, before doubling back with an ironic ending that puts a cherry on top.

Go see “American Fiction,” and help boost its box office numbers, and perhaps—who knows?—an underdog bid to win the Best Picture award with a design meant to reject the whole “diversity” regime that the Academy has embraced. That would be true racial justice.

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