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7 of the most racist movie characters ever

By / 11.28.12
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Sometimes racism is blatant and sometimes it’s so casual that you don’t really notice it until you stop to think about it and through the years Hollywood has managed to incorporate both types of racism in their movies. Sure, back in the day, every other movie released had some horribly racist character in it and so we won’t include those – after all, they basically just mirrored (and sometimes helped to create) the horribly racist society that watched them. No, this list is reserved for the movies where people should have known better. These are characters created in a world in which people understood and knew that racism was horrible and yet did it anyway. Sometimes it’s a wildly over the top stereotype played for laughs (a tough trick to pull off – trust me) and sometimes it’s a dramatic role that attempts to tiptoe on the edge only to fall off into a chasm of bad taste, but whatever the differences the one thing these characters have in common is that that they are seven of the most racist movie characters ever – or at least of the past fifty years or so.

Photo credit: YouTube/Universal

This was the movie that basically ruined Mike Myers’ career and for good reason. Not only was it horrifically unfunny, the kind of thing that they probably show to prisoners in Guantanamo in order to break them, it was racist in a ham-handed, tacky kind of way. It trades on every stale, banal cliché of Hinduism and the Indian guru culture that Myers could apparently think of. I mean, come on, Ben Kingsley as Guru Tugginmypudha? That’s like something a particularly dull seventh grader might come up with. Look, you can get away with being offensive so long as you’re transcendentally funny – you can use stereotypes to mock clichés and the people who lazily trade in them, but you can’t get away with this sort of shit. Guru Pitka was offensive because it was so unfunny, because it wasn’t used as a Trojan Horse to mock those old clichés, but rather bought into those clichés completely and made a feeble attempt to trade on them for cheap, shitty laughs. It didn’t work and in the end, The Love Guru - and Guru Pitka especially - managed to be that horrible combination of painfully unfunny and unashamedly racist.

Photo credit: YouTube/Paramount

Look, I love Major League, I love Cerrano and I love the actor who plays him, Dennis Haysbert. Hell, I will occasionally mutter “hats for bats” for no good reason. But that still doesn’t change the fact that the character of Pedro Cerrano was ridiculously racist. The basic gist of the character is that he’s a mysterious voodoo devotee who worships a doll named Jobu – at least until it can’t help him hit a curveball. Cerrano is that weird combination of two very different movie tropes – “the angry black man” and “the magical negro.” Oooooh, he’s a big, intimidating black dude who all the white guys are secretly afraid of but he’s also mysterious and he sacrifices chickens and hits giant, majestic home runs to win the game with his supernatural strength. I’m half-surprised that the writers didn’t include a scene of him singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” or something like that just to complete the racism hat-trick. But let’s not crack down on ol’ Cerrano too hard. After all, he was the nation’s first black President.

Photo credit: YouTube/Paramount

I predict people will get their panties all in a bunch about this one but look into your heart, you know it’s true. Sure, Tony Montana was a badass, but he was also about as offensive a depiction of a Cuban émigré as you’re ever gonna find. It was essentially the beginning of that phase of Al Pacino’s career where he just started going wildly over-the-top with his characters and while it’s entertaining, occasionally it also ends up looking a lot like this – the horrible, endlessly mockable accent, the fiery Latino temper and machismo, the brutal sadism and degenerate hedonism… it was all there, like something a Tea Party zealot would draw up in order to scare people. Sure, you can make the argument that he just happened to be both a criminal and a Cuban, and that the connection by itself isn’t inherently racist, but Pacino’s depiction was so over-the-top, so wild and so tied to every cheap stereotype that people have of Latinos, and Cubans especially, that it kind of makes that argument irrelevant. There’s a way to handle this role that doesn’t come across like a racist cartoon character – it wouldn’t be as fun, but it probably would have been more compelling and, in the end, interesting - and, well, this ain’t it.

Photo credit: YouTube/Universal

Long Duk Dong is a horny little Asian guy who speaks in ridiculously broken English, has odd, almost alien habits, gets easily wasted and starts laughing at everything, and finally finds true lust with a giant white woman who towers over him. Also, his name is LONG DUK DONG. Any questions?

Photo credit: YouTube/Universal

Not only did Jar-Jar Binks suck because he was awful and irritating and made people want to charge the screen with the claw end of a hammer, he was also a cheap and lazy stereotype taken straight out of 1930’s era Hollywood, back when every black dude on-screen was, well, basically Jar-Jar Binks. I’m sure some of you dissembling racists out there will hit me with the whole “But he’s a Gungan and Gungan’s aren’t real and he’s not black so what’s the big deal” argument but come on. The horrible pidgin English, the gangly strut, the leering jackassery, the bumbling fool with the big buck-toothed smile… it’s like a character the Klan would create. It’s impossible to watch him bumbling around, putting on a shameful minstrel show, and not at least be a little uncomfortable. Besides, do you really want to be the one defending Jar-Jar freakin’ Binks for any reason? I didn’t think so.

Photo credit: YouTube/20th Century Fox

Much like their ignoble ancestor Jar-Jar, Skids and Mudflap are basically just terrible, terrible stereotypes, shucking and jiving fast-talking fools that trade on every cheap, lazy cliché Hollywood has ever had about black people. Just ask yourself this – would Michael Bay have been able to get away with these characters acting like this, or even 10% of the shit they say and do, if they had been actual people? No, of course not. But people overlook it and make excuses and say “Oh no, but they’re robots so it’s okay.” Sure, you’re right, they are robots, but they’re robots designed to act like cheap black dude clichés. Then again, on the list of offensive and horrible crimes against good taste that Michael Bay has committed this only ranks somewhere in the middle so let’s just move on.

Photo credit: YouTube/Paramount

Just look at the picture. Good Lord. If I have to explain to you why this is racist then you have no hope as a human being and should probably be forcibly sterilized. Just… Jesus. Come on.

Photo credit: YouTube/Paramount

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Neil Bulson
About Neil Bulson... Neil Bulson writes words for money. Some of them are even funny. Hey, that rhymed! As you can see, it is probably best not to encourage him.
TAGSArbitrary RankingsBreakfast at Tiffany’sfeaturedGuru PitkaJar-Jar BinksListsLong Duk DongMajor LeagueMr YunioshiPedro Cerranoracist charactersracist movie charactersracist moviesScarfaceSixteen CandlesSkids and MudflapStar Wars: The Phantom MenaceThe Love GuruTony MontanaTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen

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