I’ve mentioned my love/hate relationship with Wes Anderson in the past, and I’ve even BcB tweeted it when I watched the Fantastic Mr. Fox. But I finally figured out why the subtle fetishizing of people of color in ALL of Wes Anderson films really bug me. Whether its the Vietnam War reenactment in a school play at Rushmore Academy or the Filipino pirates in A Life Aquatic, Wes Anderson likes to fuck with folks. He likes to joke with people in their face, and since all the characters in his movie are in the know, its all an act. BUT. One problem. The people of color in his movies aren’t given the pleasure of being on the inside of the joke.
Poor Danny Glover in The Royal Tennenbaums doesn’t understand why he’s treated like an outsider in a family he has adopted as his own. Margaret Yang would do anything to please Max, so she doesn’t realize what it means for her to don a Viet Cong outfit in his mock war play. And The Darjeeling Limited? There are four people in the entire country of India during that movie that get that their in a movie: Anjelica Houston, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrian Brody. Everyone else is one-dimensional, brown folk just there for scenery, probably thinking Anderson is filming a documentary about trains.
And what about his latest film? How can Anderson bring in some subtle racism into a stop animation film about rabbits and foxes and humans? *Spoiler* By bringing in a one dimensional wolf that is the only “animal” in the film. It doesn’t talk, it doesn’t walk on two legs, and its the scariest thing on screen. And if you didn’t get the personification of the wolf character in the film, just for good measure, Anderson has the wolf raise a fist, Black Panther style.
Why does he do this? He knows his audience consists of graduate school educated, been to Paris on holiday, McLaren car seat in the back of an Audi A4, New Yorker reading yipsters, so they can read his subtext. All I know is that its getting harder and harder to watch his films as he gets cockier and cockier. Maybe its because he moved to Paris (this goes for you too Sedaris) or because deep down inside, he’s a Texan.