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Brandon Spoils Movies - Soul Man

Written by: Brandon Fisher

soulman

Ah the 1980s. Where comedies didn’t have to be funny all the way through. Where stars like Leslie Neilson, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and James Earl Jones were extras. Where everyone cared about the plight of the rich white kid. Where you could produce an entire movie with the star in black face and America would buy it. Soul Man is all these things and so much less.

Soul Man is about a college student, C. Thomas Howell, who gets accepted to Harvard Law, but can’t afford the tuition after being cut-off by his rich parents, so he becomes black in order to apply for a full scholarship. It’s totally possible that this is the alternate version of The Last Starfighter where he actually went to college instead of into space. This whole movie seems packed with people trying to be something else. You have the voice of Darth Vader as a black professor, you have someone named Rae Dawn Chong playing a black student, the theme song “Soul Man” sung by one of the whitest dudes ever, Lou Reed, the writer of the movies was Carol Black (who I assume is actually white) and you have the main character in black face trying to be a black guy. Racism is addressed, lessons are learned and like most movies the white guy ends up all right in the end.

Here’s what else happens. Soul Man takes tanning pills to become black. So why did Soul Man’s hair change? I didn’t know tanning darkened your skin and curled your hair. If tanning made you black that tanning mom who put her kid in a tanning bed would be darker than a black hole. Soul Man didn’t even look black! He looked exactly the same, but less bright. How did people not recognize Soul Man? These are the same people fooled by Superman in glasses posing as Clark Kent. Soul Man then falls for his classmate, Chong, who coincidentally sits right next to him, because their names are close in the alphabet. All colleges seat alphabetically, right? After it’s revealed that Soul Man is white, Chong still decides to date him. How low are her standards? I know she has a kid already, but months of deceptive lies are no problem? I don’t know what her baby daddy did to make her leave, but it must have been epic.

I grew up in the 1980s and I don’t remember it being so hard to be white. It was actually pretty easy. Why are there so many movies surrounded around white people problems? (See: The Last Starfighter, Big, Just One Of The Guys). This doesn’t seem to be representative of the white experience. I never use the N-Word, I don’t tell racist jokes and I would never fraud a scholarship away from underprivileged youth. I guess I am just not a Soul Man. It would probably explain why I am not a lawyer, don’t have a hot black girlfriend and don’t have rich parents to pay all my student loan debt. At least Soul Man was made so that no one in Hollywood ever thinks it would be a good idea to make a movie with someone in black face because it hasn’t been done before. In that way Soul Man was trailblazing. Thank you Soul Man.

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