The FP is an upcoming film that heavily derides DDR and the enthusiasts that love it. As a former DDR
fanatic player, a film mocking DDR immediately feels like a good idea. As much as I enjoyed the game, I would be the last to argue that the game and the players aren’t alarmingly strange. In fact, I wouldn’t argue it all. DDR players are fucking weird.
The FP explodes this weirdness in a very intentional way, occasionally succeeding and frequently failing. I know this because I just finished watching the first 10 minutes of the film. Go ahead and watch it. Yes, that is a legal link. The filmmakers chose to advertise it that way.
As I hope you noticed, in that clip “nigga” gets tossed around quite frequently. Now, I’m not the nigga police (Is that an oxymoron?). I say it hesitantly and self-consciously, but I say it nonetheless. I also know that other people say it, sometimes non-black people. I’m not going to even attempt to lay out instances in which “nigga” and its relatives are “acceptable.” Not only do I not even know what “acceptable” really means, but I lack the authority, if such authority even exists (it probably doesn’t) and the time. What I want to talk about is how “nigga” works within the movie.
To start off, yes, I know that the movie is camp. This is very clear to me. The dialogue, the music, the characters, the clothing and the basic conceit of the film are all heavily campy. I get it. But camp doesn’t excuse racism. Again, I’ll say this explicitly: I know that in the absence of black people (and sometimes the presence), some non-black people say “nigga.” I’m neither disputing that or calling them racists.I would need a context for that.
All that being said, when I watched this film, every time someone said “nigga,” it didn’t feel subversive or transgressive. It felt racist. It’s supposed to be a joke, I’m sure, but it’s just plain distracting (read: racist). Literally every time it was uttered, I had a frisson. This didn’t happen because I’m uptight. I’ve seen the My Way Entertainment videos, I actually like Malibu’s Most Wanted and I like Tarantino films. In other words, I don’t cringe at the mere idea of “nigga” being used by non-black people for the sake of art. Some people (i.e. Spike Lee), do cringe and maybe I should too, but I don’t. In The FP, “nigga” isn’t being used to mock casual racism or achieve some artistic goal. It’s being used because “it’s funny,” which is ironic, because it isn’t. It’s just racist.
Addendum: I focused on race in this post, but everything I’ve said also applies to all the movie’s attempts to mock “bros” (click here for a distinction between bros and douches) and “bro humor.” In essence, the mocking ends up becoming the thing being mocked. There are multiple terms for this phenomenon. Baudrillard calls it simulation. The internet calls it Poe’s Law. I call it bad comedy.