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Ho ho ho, you white people are crazy, but only in a silly way


Ho ho ho, you white people are crazy, but only in a silly way

Spike Lee’s latest film ‘BlacKkKansman’ hammers home the ridiculousness of racism

Yolisa Mkele

There is an open secret floating through the collective consciousness of people of colour. A cherished nugget of truth that simultaneously brightens the day and boggles the minds of non-European descendants across the globe: “white people are crazy”. Not crazy in the derogatory sense one would use to describe someone with a mental illness. No white people are crazy in the sense that they are ridiculous and enjoy going out of their way to prove it. Spike Lee’s latest film BlacKkKlansman hammers this point home.
It should go without saying that there are plenty of pale faces who do not have a ridiculous bone in their bodies and if you are one of them, then congratulations – but be aware that there are a lot of you who turn being ludicrous into an art form.
Inspired by the true story of Ron Stallworth, BlacKkKlansman tells the story of an African American policeman who infiltrates the infamous Ku Klux Klan during the Civil Rights era in the US. As a general rule, movies involving the Klan and black folks tend to conjure up certain expectations. Oppression porn is a tried and tested formula that often lures audiences into cinemas with the promise of outrage and acts as Oscar bait. Fortunately for those of us who are tired of seeing gleeful white faces hanging strange fruit from trees, BlacKkKlansman is not some 1970s variation of 12 Years A Slave. In fact what it is, is a comedy.
If you’re wondering how bigotry can be funny, Lee does an ab-strengthening job of showing you how. Near the beginning of the movie, Stallworth (played by John David Washington) gets his hands on a KKK calling card and decides to give them a ring.
Using his “white voice” and some phrases so racist that you can’t help but chuckle (if you’re black that is) he manages to organise a meeting with one of the Klan warlocks (or is it wizards?) by pretending to be a white racist named Ron Stallworth. Obviously Stallworth’s tan is an impediment to his joining the Klan so he enlists the help of his secular Jewish buddy Flip Zimmerman to pretend to be Stallworth at the meeting. What follows is a series of high jinks showcasing how lying to a bunch of terrorist racists is easier than lying to your partner.
What makes BlacKkKlansman so refreshing is how it rather sensibly, and without making light of racism, shows just how nonsensical racism can be. Imagine for a second your middle-aged partner woke up on a Sunday morning, slipped into  a billowing white robe and pointy hat with eye holes cut into it, and then kissed you goodbye and said he was off to meet the wizard. It seems no more ridiculous to see a bunch of 40-year-olds playing a serious game of quidditch than it does to see that same group of men dressed up as racist ghosts.
Perhaps, however, that is part of the point of the film because in as much as Klansmen are absurd they are still dangerous terrorists. They are still fanatically capable of burning crosses and planting explosives before melting back into their lives as policemen, judges, farmers, lawyers and politicians. Clearly not all of the wizards are stupid and that’s what makes them scary. Perfectly “normal”-seeming, well-educated people are so scared of being knocked off the societal top rung that they would rather dress up as Dick Dastardly in a shitty disguise than let go of their racism. Lol, white people really are crazy.

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