Andy and I saw Clerks 2 last weekend. Let me premise this by saying that most of the time I have an odd sense of amusement/rabid agitation when I watch a Kevin Smith movie, it’s an interesting breed of “enjoyment”, to say the least. But when we watched An Evening with Kevin Smith, I thought the guy was hilarious and anti-Hollywood – and that is always a plus with me.
Anyway, there was a lot of what I expected: tasteless sexual jokes, geek speak, cameos from all of Smith’s nearest and dearest (I’m still quite bewildered that it elicited an 8 minute standing ovation at the Cannes film festival). I never got through the first Clerks, as much of the dialogue bored me to tears…but I got the basic idea. Long live blue collar life!
This sequel picks up ten years after the first, best friends Dante and Randal are now working for fast food chain Mooby’s, as the quickstop was practically burned down due to Randal’s incompetence. Dante wants something “better” in life than just flippin’ burgers and Randal is content to just be a jackass. One day, in comes Wanda Sykes and her husband (played by comedian Earthquake), ready to order! Randal is bemoaning his recent run-in with cocky, self made millionaire Lance Dowds (Jason Lee) who happened to go to high school with him and Dante. He whines that Lance thinks that just because they’re working at Mooby’s that they’re a bunch of “porch monkeys”. Wanda flies into a rage.
Anyway…long story short: Randal is astounded that the term porch monkey is a racial slur. He just thought that it meant someone that was lazy, not necessarily a black lazy person! And to prove his knowledge of what’s really racist, he prattles off a list of racial slurs. His co-workers are aghast. Randal decides that he wants to take porch monkey back. Throughout the film you see the words Porch Monkey for Life duct taped on the back of his work jersey. AWESOME!
Now……..aside from my knee jerk reaction to hearing these delightful words (image of my fist hitting someone’s chin in slow motion loops steadily in my head), I was nonplussed. I could see the point of the scene, how two people can take something two completely different ways, but I could’ve done without the barrage of n bombs. And the second I watched this scene I was thinking: Fuck! Here comes the latest annoying catch phrase! Who’s gonna be the first to design a shirt with this shit on it? And, lo and behold, I come home to find post after post on IMDB and MySpace not only dedicated to being a Porch Monkey for Life, but with links to sites selling these hi-larious shirts!!! Oh and let’s not forget the countless: My black friend laughed his ass off at this scene! Or: Forget the one black guy who walked out, I saw ten black people at the theater and they were all shaking with laughter! So…yeah!
Does someone need a cookie? Cuz I’ll bake a batch for you. I mean, damn! Can you just speak for yourself? Did you not know that it was possible for two black people to have different reactions to something? So one guy decided it was racist. One guy thought it was funny. It’s okay. We’re not all going to have the same opinions/reactions…why do I need to explain this??? As for me: I have no need to ever use that word in my day to day conversations. I’d prefer never to hear it again, but I know how unrealistic that is. I know I sure as hell don’t want it up in my face when I’m trying to walk down the street. It’s like catching a homeless person taking a shit on the sidewalk: you avoid it if you can.
Most people commented that they had never even heard the term before…yet they’re going to take it back? Why? Why take back a term that was never in your lexicon to begin with? What is that proving? So, calling any and everyone a porch monkey will help to eradicate racism? Because… good old fashioned bullying has always worked before in the past. I mean, don’t be surprised if someone whacks you upside your head in response to your “take back”. I could put a swastika on the back of a shirt and argue it’s a holy symbol in Hinduism and Jainism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika), but I doubt people could easily forget what it means to them. My point is, try opening up dialogues instead of making a fashion statement.
*takes a breath*