Wes Anderson Does it Again

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.

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2 thoughts on “Wes Anderson Does it Again

  1. my love/hate for wes is similar to my love/hate for quentin tarantino. they’ve both obviously got issues with people of color though, i’d argue that qt has an unhealthy love for them while wes just may have a quiet fascination with them. i get the feeling he wasn’t or isn’t around minority folks much, and perhaps his inclusion of these oddball characters of color is his artistic rendering of what it’d be like to be around them. so there’s some stereotyping and there’s some exotification. but i’m not sure if he has racist intentions.

    if you take “bottle rocket” and the relationship between luke wilson and the paraguayan hotel maid, you have a guy who is nice but essentially a loser. he instantly falls in love with this latina housekeeper (which, i know, is a troublesome image in and of itself), and she reciprocates but not without calling him directionless and immature. it was a “you can’t just have me because you’re a goofy white dude” moment (a teachable moment, if you will), but what’s problematic are the undertones of “i can’t believe this schmuck is getting schooled by a paraguayan maid. what does she know? she can’t even speak english!”

    yet, i still like the movie. i still love “the royal tenenbaums” and i think the only problem with danny glover’s character was his treatment by gene hackman, which of course was a method of showing what an asshole gene hackman was. the character of pagoda is another matter…

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  2. 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.”

    Those are my favorite type of (White) yipsters! They are so cute like that.

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