"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Trading Places

June 8, 1983

To many, TRADING PLACES is a beloved comedy classic. To me it’s a movie that Mrs. Vern references often and that we occasionally flip past on TNT. I think the only time I saw it all the way through I was still in elementary school. So I came to this viewing pretty fresh.

I know it goes back to The Prince and the Pauper or some shit, but Hollywood particularly loved this kind of comedy concept in the ’80s through ’90s: What if a non-rich guy could live among the rich? And what if a rich guy could live among the non-rich? What laughs would we have? What lessons would we learn? Don’t you agree it would be valuable? This one’s writers, Timothy Harris & Herschel Weingrod, later gave us BREWSTER’S MILLIONS, and you could also count THE TOY, LIFE STINKS, KING RALPH, and I’m sure some others. This is John Landis’s version, and he kicks it off with some satirical bite, but it eventually eases up and acts like we’re supposed to like the rich guy, assumes we want to see him have a happy ending. As was the style in those days.

The premise, for those of you who didn’t grow up on it either: Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd, 1941), the hotshot managing director of commodities brokerage Duke & Duke, falsely accuses street beggar Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy in his second movie, after 48 HRS.) of trying to steal his briefcase when the two bump into each other on the sidewalk. The firm’s owners, Mortimer (Don Ameche a few years before winning an Oscar for COCOON) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy a few years before winning the friendship of the Fat Boys in DISORDERLIES), who have been idly debating whether Winthorpe’s success comes from nature or nurture (breeding or privilege), decide to make a wager. They frame Winthorpe as a thief and PCP dealer, bail out Billy Ray, give him Winthorpe’s job, mansion, and butler Coleman (Denholm Elliott, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), and step back to see what happens.

Landis does a great job of establishing the urban setting, much like he does in my favorite or second favorite movie by him, THE BLUES BROTHERS. The opening credits show us regular people living their lives in grey, rainy Philadelphia, beneath historic landmarks and statues. People commuting by car, bus, or train. Workers moving boxes, stocking coolers, chopping meat or lettuce, spraying fish, opening stores. We see people sleeping on streets, warming their hands over barrels, visiting the department of labor. And then we meet this motherfucker Winthorpe, who lives in a mansion and has a butler fresh-squeezing orange juice for him, baking him croissants, picking him a rose, using the nice china to bring him breakfast in bed.

I think what Landis does best here is establish the lifestyles of the rich not as glamorous, but alien and gross. Stiff, humorless, pretentious-speaking Winthorpe sits silently as Coleman shaves him – it seems miserable. He gets help putting on his jacket. He goes outside and stands there like an asshole waiting for Coleman to open his car door. And there’s a perfectly, painfully prolonged sequence of him walking through the huge Duke & Duke lobby as a series of underlings make a beeline to pass him and wish him a good morning. So little sincerity, so much hierarchical deference and ritual. Winthorpe doesn’t even smile at the guy who takes his coat and scarf and gives him his briefcase.

What does he do to earn this respect? Well, he had a feeling this morning about pork bellies, and it turns out to be a good guess. So to the company, as long as he keeps getting lucky, he’s important. To anyone else in the world he’s a useless, talentless, personality-less, lifeless douche who gets to lord over us because of that fake job moving people’s inherited money around pretending this achieves something.

Later there’s a big scene on the trading floor, viewing a swarm of mostly dudes with appropriate bemused detachment as they yell about frozen orange juice concentrate shares.

Another nice touch is that the Dukes and Winthorpe are members of something called “The Heritage Club,” where white men sit around in leather chairs smoking pipes and cigars, reading The Wall Street Journal and being served drinks by an all Black staff. A plaque outside bears the motto “With Liberty and Justice For All,” but inside there’s an enormous table lining up dozens of elite white men, looking up at a wall covered in paintings of elite white men throughout history. It’s an unstated but not at all subtle poke at generational wealth and power.

A weirder part I absolutely loved is when we have the privilege of witnessing one of the rituals of Winthorpe’s peers. The girlfriends sit at their table smiling adoringly as their v-neck sweater-clad boyfriends harmonize a slut-shaming fraternity song at the bar by the squash courts.

They’re so fuckin delighted with themselves! When they’re done you can hear one of them say emphatically, “That was great. That was really great.”

The butler, Coleman, is one of the more likable characters because of the obvious disdain he has for his boss from the beginning, and the way he prefers Billy Ray. Landis does a great job of making every interaction with a servant uncomfortable to watch, as it should be. You see how dehumanizing those jobs can be and how much a certain type of person wants their employees to express worshipful gratitude. The best is when Duke and Duke together give their butler Ezra (‘40s Broadway star Avon Long) five dollars as a Christmas bonus, and are too stupid to know his response is sarcastic.

In case you can’t guess what the Duke brothers are all about, they come right out and the say the n-word a couple times. Winthorpe sticks to “negro.” Even if he didn’t, we’d have his number. The way he panics and assumes Billy Ray is trying to rob him, then takes great personal pleasure in pointing at him and telling the police to get him, is unfortunately a dead-on portrayal of a type of person still common today. (The part that seems less timely is that Billy Ray is able to smile and joke like Bugs Bunny when the cops have him pinned down with a bunch of guns in his face.)

Billy Ray’s initial skepticism about the money and the home the Dukes are giving him is a highlight. He keeps trying to take stuff because he assumes he’ll be kicked out right away. When he realizes it’s really happening he goes to a bar in a tailored suit and fur coat, buys everybody champagne, invites a bunch of people (mostly involved in the prostitution industry, I believe) back to his place for a party. But now that he’s accepted the premise that this all belongs to him he gets protective of the furnishings and resentful of these “freeloaders” taking advantage of the completely unearned riches he’s also taking advantage of. So it’s already changing him.

Part of the way the Dukes isolate Winthorpe is by paying a prostitute named Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis), to go up and kiss him in front of his fiance Penelope (Kristin Holby, whose only other credit is in MANHUNTER). That works, but Ophelia takes pity on him and lets him stay at her apartment while he gets back on his feet. She sees a money opportunity, but it’s clear she also likes him. It’s less clear why.

The story goes wild in the last act after Billy Ray overhears the Dukes talking about their bet and, uh… un-trading Billy Ray and Winthorpe’s places, and the two start working together. I did not foresee this being the type of movie that ends with all the main characters on a train in disguise doing wacky ethnic accents and bad guy Clarence Beeks (Paul Gleason, VIGILANTE FORCE) getting put into a gorilla costume and then being raped by a gorilla. But I guess Eddie always liked those disguises and Landis always liked those gorilla costumes.

I don’t think that stuff holds up very well, nor does the way the movie treats Winthorpe like the default hero at the end. I don’t subscribe to the idea of characters needing to get what they deserve or not get what they don’t deserve, but this movie definitely thinks we’re rooting for this arrogant, personality-less, racial profiling dweeb. Even if Ophelia for some reason wants to live happily ever after with him, why the hell would Billy Ray and Coleman go with them? That Coleman is there but turns out to not be a servant, and in fact have his own servant, is a funny twist, but I don’t think Coleman would do that shit. He would take the money and go live comfortably but humbly somewhere, making delicious meals for himself and a special friend. He wouldn’t become just another rich asshole. #NotMyColeman

The movie was originally developed for Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, but then Pryor had his freebasing accident. Paramount thought of Murphy because 48 HRS. was testing well. Landis fought for Aykroyd, who had to take a pay cut because Paramount didn’t think people would like him much without Belushi.

At the time, Curtis had only done horror movies: HALLOWEEN, THE FOG, PROM NIGHT, TERROR TRAIN, ROAD GAMES and HALLOWEEN II. She wanted to stop doing them, so she turned down what became Meg Tilly’s part in PSYCHO II, and luckily had an in with Landis, having narrated his horror trailer documentary COMING SOON. Like Linda Blair in CHAINED HEAT, this became sort of famous as a movie that Curtis did nudity in, but luckily she wasn’t shamed in the same way.

Landis filmed TRADING PLACES shortly after the fatal helicopter accident on the set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (a June 24, 1983 release I’ll be skipping since I’ve reviewed it already). This was a hit and then he directed Michael Jackson’s paradigm-shifting “Thriller” video, which debuted in December, but he still must’ve been worried about his career – critics came down hard on 1985’s INTO THE NIGHT for all its director cameos, interpreted as Hollywood circling the wagons to protect their crony who fucked up. But he was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter charges in 1987, reunited with Murphy for COMING TO AMERICA, and continued to direct for many years. It seems like in recent years as younger generations have learned about the accident and the ways he contributed to the conditions that led to it, he’s starting to be looked at in a much more negative light. Or maybe it’s just that he hasn’t directed a movie in 13 years. I think it’s probly fair to blame him for the tragedy; I also think he was a great director, and this movie provides some evidence of that, even though I don’t rank it among my favorites. Life is complicated!

Later films written by Harris & Weingrod include TWINS, MY STEPMOTHER IS AN ALIEN, KINDERGARTEN COP, PURE LUCK and SPACE JAM.

Signs o’ the times:

A very young Giancarlo Esposito plays “Cellmate #2.”
Winthorpe pretends to be Jamaican, in blackface and everything. And it was supposed to be fun, you weren’t supposed to be mad at him for it. Whoops!

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25 Responses to “Trading Places”

  1. Landis once said “Every movie is better with a man in a gorilla suit”, so he is indeed a fan of those.

    Yeah, that movie is a bit puzzling. Most of all: Despite it being a very popular movie to this day, only very few people actually understand what the hell is going on in the end. Also it turned out that whatever price manipulation they were doing was so accurate that the people responsible for the stock market in real life started something called the “Eddie Murphy rule” to prevent it from happening.
    And I do think the only reason we actually don’t mind Windthorpe turning face in the end, is that he is played by Dan Aykroyd. Hard to not like that guy, even if he plays douchebags.

    Random fun fact: The gibberish that Murphy and Aykroyd shout at each other in the train scene (I love by the way that their plan is so dumb that the guy they are trying to trick doesn’t fall for it) became a quite popular House Music sample, thanks to Masters At Work’s 1991 track THE HA DANCE.

  2. In retrospect, that Jamie Lee Curtis casting in Psycho 2 is so perfect that it’s a bit deflating that doing so many horror movies soured her on another one. I’ll try not to let that affect Terror Train in my estimation.

  3. Yeah, I’m sure there’s plenty about this that doesn’t hold up, but I think you have to judge its racial politics in terms of its intent and time period. It’s actually trying to say something about systems of oppression and privilege before we had that language. The price of that is Dan Ackroyd in blackface, I guess, lol. Eddie is hilarious in this, but my person favorite are the two guys in the joint, especially the “Yeah!!” guy. Also, I always thought it was cute how Mortimer and Duke cameo in COMING TO AMERICA, which is definitely peak Eddie (making the execrable COMING 2 AMERICA that much more depressing). This is very much a Reagan era time capsule, but I’ll take this over WALL STREET any day.

  4. Franchise Fred

    June 8th, 2023 at 6:47 pm

    That description of Billy Ray turning on his freeloaders made me think how only 5 years later he kinda has the Winthrope role as the rich Prince in Coming to America. He’s the good version of it who doesn’t like it and wants to find a real relationship and do manual labor.

  5. I kinda sorta understand Vern’s utter disdain for the character of Winthorp, but I’m with CJ here, can’t quite bring myself to hate on the guy as he’s played by the always likeable Dan Ackroyd. Swap him out for Belushi or Murray though…then yeah, motherfucker can eat shit as far as I’m concerned.

  6. This movie weirdly means a lot to me—it was a favorite of a friend of mine who grew up in Philly, and who passed away this year. I watched it for the first time with her a few years ago; we were both extremely high.

    I remember thinking the satire was very sharp and very funny. The scene where Eddie Murphy has the house party and, in getting mad at his friends trashing the place *becomes* the rich guy is both extremely hilarious and a pretty amazing argument for nurture over nature—put any old person in a rich person’s shoes, and pretty soon they’ll start acting like one. That’s a simple observation, but imo a pretty profound one.

    I also had a similar reaction to Vern about Dan Ackroyd’s arc. Why the fuck should we sympathize with this guy? I suppose because it’s ultimately a 80’s buddy comedy, and that’s just how it works. But still, annoying.

    I also hated the train stuff. Rape as a joke, haha. I remember Al Franken’s character seeming genuinely despicable but played for laughs.

    But then, toward the end, a really genuinely brutal moment occurs. As I recall, the two rich guys running the experiment agree that Eddie Murphy could do Dan Ackroyd’s job just as easily. And then one of them says something to effect of, “but I’d still never hire him, because he’s a n—–r.” I gasped out loud, and my heart kinda sunk because those guys were oddly endearing up til then. But you know what? That’s a very true moment—or at least, a very deliberate stab at the truth. Racism is racism, the movie seems to say, and expecting those in power to reason themselves away from it is folly.

    The there’s some silly stock floor hijinks that I didn’t fully understand because you’re expected to grasp the significance of some changing numbers and I’m too dumb (or was too high) to follow.

    Anyway, a weird mix of profound, funny and dated cliché. Definitely get why it’s a classic—there’s a great movie in there beneath the 80s baggage.

  7. I used to immensely enjoy this film, along with its quasi-sequel, when I saw it first with a friend in early primary school. “Here’s your dollar!”, the gorilla, the frozen juice… Fun, fun!

    Then, years later, I found out that the director killed an actor and two kids, allegedly bribed his way out of criminal trial, made jokes about the victims even decades afterwards (“Nothing like shredded kids!”), and then protected his serial rapist son, whom he pulled into the film industry by nepotism as a bad “writer” and wannabe director.

    My point: I cannot really enjoy this film anymore, or any other film made by that individual. :|

  8. Maybe I need to rewatch this. I’ve seen it like 10 times, but the last time was probably 15 years ago. Isn’t the whole point that Ackroyd’s character is an obvious total piece of shit who gets viciously humbled and immiserated by this situation, realizes that the whole system he was participating in was wrong, “repents,” then teams up with Eddie Murphy to screw the people at the top who benefit/perpetuate the most? What am I missing here? Were you hoping he would get shot in the face instead?

    As for Landis, yeah, that is some awful shit right there, but then I don’t know if he ever tried to make amends.

    I always find it odd how an self-consciously left crowd of people can be extremely punitive toward its particular villains. Like, I think Landis’s behavior in TWILIGHT ZONE and Ackroyd’s character in this film are people who did awful things, but I am a believer in redemptive arcs for those who actually repent and try to do the right thing. Somehow the logic is, “but he’s so privileged, so fuck him,” but a lot of us are privilleged, relatively speaking, so … fuck all of us? My mom worked in a grocery store bakery for barely above minimum wage, and my dad in a blue collar occupation (like, was a local union rep and we had one shitty car blue collar occupation) , and so, I had some privileges but not others but still, in the grand sweep of history, pretty privileged. I’ve also made ethical lapses in my life. (shrug emoji). This is why I can’t quite wrap my head around why the Creeds are likeable and relatable while last-part-of-this-film Dan Ackroyd is still a hopelessly irredeemable piece of shit. At least he realizes by this point that he’s a beneficiary of privilege in a fucked up and corrupt system, whereas … well, see the CREED III comments for too many of my thoughts on those characters c. end of CREED III: At the end of that film, the Creeds are all awesome, and the Majors / Dame character is only sort of half-ass redeemed for (abruptly and inexplicably) repenting of being a jealous hater. Sorry, this is new Godwin’s Law of my comments — eventually comes back to CREED III.

  9. People really think a director who hasn’t had a hit since 1989 has a lot more power than he does. How is he forcing his son into the film industry when he can’t even get a movie made? Maybe the Landis name got the son meetings out of simple curiosity but nobody’s throwing millions of dollars at some punk kid’s script because his dad directed some hits 30 years ago. Protecting him how? Do you think Landis Jr went and bragged to his dad every time he sexually abused somebody so Dad used his clout as a guy whose last movie was BURKE & HARE (Opening weekend box office gross: $947) to get it covered up? I don’t think the media is going to squelch a juicy story because the director of THE STUPIDS told them to. That’s Weinstein-level power and Landis never even came close to having that even at his peak.

    Landis made some really bad and unethical decisions on the TWILIGHT ZONE set that put people in harm’s way, but he didn’t cause the accident. Read the court documents. An unforseeable mechanical error caused the crash, not anything he or the pilot did. Granted, the kids wouldn’t have been there if he hadn’t violated the rules, so that’s on him. He made a bad situation immeasurably worse. That is some very ugly business, and I don’t begrudge anyone not wanting to partake in anything Landis-related after learning about it, but people treat him like some evil criminal mastermind when he’s just a guy who made some bad calls, has a shithead for a son, and can’t get a movie financed.

  10. Skani, my problem with Ackroyd’s character’s arc isn’t that I think “privileged people don’t deserve redemption”, it’s that it takes a lot more work than this movie did for me to find that compelling. When a character is taught a life lesson by simply having to live for a few days the way a lot of people live their entire lives and is then (whew!) restored to their original position of wealth and power at the end… how moved are you, really, by that?

  11. Hi Zed, my comment was not specifically aimed at you, but it was partially aimed at the type of thinking in your comment, so…sure, let’s do this, why not.

    Is it really just a few days? It felt like Billy Ray’s time in the firm and Ackroyd’s time on the skids lasts longer than a few days, but maybe I’m mis-remembering.

    Side note: Would it be better or worse for Ackroyd’s character to really quickly come to the realization that his supposed former awesomeness was just a lie/social construct vs. if it took him a really longer time to wise up? the answer is not obvious to me.

    I would not say I was “moved” by any of the film, but I did think it was fun, and I think, grading on the curve of history, it was ahead of its time in terms of progressive racial and class politics even if it is behind 2023. Side note is that MAD Magazine’s parody of this was called TRADING RACES, which was either super-racist or super-ahead-of-the-curve depending on how you read the meaning of the title (probably, it was just racist, but I digress).

    Eddie is or at least should be the main star and hero of the film, and clearly he is the most sympathetic and likeable, even then. The film’s big message is that our notions of meritocracy — in general, and especially as a pretext for racism or classism — are self-serving horse shit, and I think that’s a big win.

    I wish the other guy in jail would say “YEAH!!!” right now, but I’m not that lucky.

  12. Man, RE: Landis/the Twilight Zone debacle — I guess while filming Coming to America, Landis and Eddie Murphy fell WAY out. This initially wasn’t public knowledge as I guess the studio figured people wouldn’t want to see a light comedy where the star and director were viciously fighting during production.

    Anyway, Murphy is walking the red carpet at the premiere, and Leeza Gibbons (or the like) shoves a mic in his face, and asks “What’s it like working with John Landis??”, to which Murphy immediately snaps back “Why don’t you ask Vic Morrow what it’s like working with John Landis??” and walks away.

    Definitely a surprising bit of television. I’m still shocked they aired it.

  13. And yet they made BEVERLY HILLS COP 3 together and apparently Murphy wanted Landis to direct THE NUTTY PROFESSOR.

  14. Skani, appreciate the reply. I’ve actually no real memory what the time frame of the movie is. But let’s say it’s weeks, or even months. My point still stands—it’s a blip in his life for this guy, and in the end he has everything he had at the start. I don’t wish him ill, but once he’s doing being horrified at being poor there’s just nothing for me to find interesting or care about! Which is fine, I guess, if this is just a standard dumb comedy that rides on the strength of the performers, but this movie has something *much* more trenchant going on with Murphy’s character that makes the cliched 80s buddy comedy aspects seem all the more disappointing. To me, at least.

    That said, I’m a cup-half-full kinda guy with this movie. It’s good and I’m glad it exists.

  15. Zed, that’s fair! Thanks!

  16. Skani, the privilege he has is not just his wealth, but being the main character in an ’80s comedy. Whether or not briefly being poor and then helping the guy he racially profiled to pull off a scam is redemptive, the character is an arrogant doofus with no personality, no interesting thoughts, no apparent redeeming qualities. Yet Jamie Lee Curtis falls in love with him and we’re supposed to as well. It’s a common convention of ’80s comedies, but usually the asshole you’re supposed to like is charming and funny – Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Steve Guttenberg. Winthorpe is a character you only laugh at, never with. So for me the turn is unconvincing and doesn’t work as well as the first half where me and the movie are on the same page about this guy.

    A version of this arc that I do enjoy is CABIN BOY, where he’s such an unlikable jackass that the movie acting like he’s learned something and become a hero is a joke in itself.

  17. This comedy was one of most favourite films in Stock Exchange in Prague when it reopened shortly after we had our freedom back (bolsheviks kept it illegal for 50 years). Another favourite (serious) film was Wall Street.

    We will always be thankful to USA for helping my country Czech Republic so greatly to free ourselves from tyranny, slavery and destruction of communism in 1989.

    It is thankful that in reality most Americans do not have any hatred of capitalism and democracy. If they once let bolshevism infect their country, then it is already lost, maybe forever. My country was enslaved by bolsheviks for 50 years, vandalised by socialist politics, and who knows what would happen without USA’s help. Who would help USA if bolsheviks stole their country?

  18. (Aren’t most movies about a blip in the life of the main character? Die Hard is about one night in John McClane’s life.)

    I kind of recall the whole movie being dumb comedy first, social commentary second (if that). Winthorpe is a dope because he needs to be the butt of the joke. He gets a happy ending because it would be depressing for him to end up worse off than he started out as when he’s learned his lesson. Sure, the movie could end with him living happily in a studio apartment or content to be a factory worker, but then we’re relitigating the ending of Back To The Future. It’s all just shorthand for “they lived happily ever after.” It’s not like Brewster’s Millions ended with Richard Pryor deciding he didn’t really need to be a billionaire…

    @Mr. Majestyk: Getting into Landis family drama is a bit tangential, even for me, but no one ever went broke underestimating how nepotistic and incestuous Hollywood is.

  19. dreadguacamole

    June 9th, 2023 at 4:22 pm

    Overanalyzing things is fun!
    I agree with Kaplan and others that this movie is pretty forward-thinking for the Reagan years. It’s also a comedy first and foremost, and a very safe one with a famously dumb ending stretch – it’s not giving Ackroyd that ending due to ideological reasons, it’s just following narrative convention. It might be realistically ridiculous that Akroyd’s character had a deep spiritual conversion due to his very minor humbling, but hey, he’s acting different, more likeable, so it’s true, we’re meant to take it at face value (this is also explains Curtis; him taking her seriously as a love interest: besides being part of the movie’s wish-fulfillment fantasy, it’s also meant to signal his enlightenment. IIRC they end up together?)
    None of this is any dumber than the premise of the movie, or more wrong-headed than an elderly person getting a comedy heart attack as his just desserts.

    Things have changed since then and it’s a lot harder to swallow that that sort of thing can happen – BARBARIAN would be a good example of the more modern sensibility. Even showing empathy for the privileged is a risky move when we see what most people actually do with privilege and how unfairly that privilege is distributed (see Skani’s criticism of CREED). But it’s a valid approach, just one that (justifiably) doesn’t tend to go down easy these days.

    Re: Mad magazine – they had a melange of political viewpoints, so I’d be mildly interested in finding out where their spoof ends up. Very mildly – I recently found some old 80’s issues in a cupboard, and a cursory read left me a little surprised at just how unfunny I found them as an adult.

  20. I still wonder what Murphy’s thoughts about the blackface scene were. He obviously didn’t hold it against Landis and I never heard of him having beef with Aykroyd. Was 1983 a time when even African Americans thought it wasn’t a big deal? Can’t imagine that, to be honest. But I never heard him comment on it, even decades later. That begs the question if this scene would be in the Wilder/Pryor version and what would it look like. There is this story about how Pryor was pretty pissed about the blackface scene in the script for SILVER STREAK, so they let him rewrite it. (It still has Wilder putting shoe polish on his face as an desperate act of disguise, but in the Pryor approved version an elderly black man sees him doing it, correctly deduces that he must be in a lot of trouble to steep that low and teaches him to act black.)

  21. Whoopi Goldberg approved of Ted Danson doing blackface, and that was in 1993, so…

    To belabor a point, the ending to me is a bit like how a lot of Disney/fantasy movies simply end with ‘the rightful king’ taking the throne. Do we really want to see Prince Charming dismantle the monarchy and institute universal healthcare? It’s been two hours, bro, let me go home and take a shit.

  22. CJ, Eddie did “whiteface” in that hilarious SNL skit. I think back then people had more of a sense of nuance and cared about underlying intent vs. everything being very dictated by rigid, decision tree-like rules. More broadly, I always have a little trouble with the “what [people group x] finds offensive.” There is all kinds of heterogeneity within all of these groups. I’m sure more people find it offensive today than did then, probably across all groups. I’m always pointing people back to this article, which contains various highly credible surveys (like ANES and GSS), which show that, around the mid-2010s, white liberals (in America, at least) became more culturally progressive on racial issues than ethnic minority aka people of color Democrats are.

    See the “White liberals’ opinion has moved to the left…” figure.

    You can see the same phenomenon discussed here (read down to the discussion of Gallup data).

    tl;dr – White progressives and highly educated, upwardly mobile progressives are far more hung up on this stuff than the average human being (including the average Democrat!).

    p.s. The media at large notably did not approve of Ted Danson doing blackface. I think Whoopi was more of the “of course, he’s not racist (in the old school sense), we’re dating” mindset. Current discussion of racism is much more nuanced (= lots more ways to be called racist, lots fewer ways to escape being called racist). See above. White very online progressives in particular are practically Manichean about this stuff — more so than the not very online of all stripes.

  23. The second link didn’t work the first time. Maybe it will work now. If not, it’s from a site called “the liberal patriot” and the post is called “why can’t the democrats be more moderate.” Don’t let the “be more moderate” trigger you (or do, whatever), as it’s really more about electoral strategy than normative judgments about the ideal world. The blog is decidedly of the “Trump is bad and the GOP is fucked, obviously” persuasion and so is more “family business” discussion among people who would like to see Democrats win.


  24. As glad as I am that we got Jamie Lee Curtis and her tits for this movie, I really wish we could see what she would have done with Psycho II.

  25. I feel like Landis tended to just slightly miss the mark with his movies that seemed to be partially intended as throwbacks to 30s/40s Screwball etc Comedies, his sensibilities were a little too indulgent perhaps, which worked brilliantly for the almost roadshow-style appeal of THE BLUES BROTHERS, but less so for the more structural traditions he was playing with later. Maybe I need to see OSCAR again, I dunno, my gut feeling is the only problem with that is that it just isn’t that funny, but SPIES LIKE US I feel is a little too cynical and slick and violent to really pull off the ROAD TO vibe. I like COMING TO AMERICA quite a bit, but the romance there feels kind of forced, rather than fuelling the comedy as it would in a great Screwball Romance. This one is pretty good, but the last act lets it down.

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