Soul Man

Soul Man was produced in 1986 and directed by Steve Miner. The screenplay was done by Carol Black. This film was intended to be a comedy but ultimately ended up making light of the racial issues in America. Soul Man is a film about a rich white privileged male, Mark Watson. Mark has been financially supported by his father his entire life until it’s time for him to go to college. His father tells him that he has to pay his own way through school and that he’s spent his college savings. Mark decides to take the easy way out and applies for a scholarship intended for black applicants. He dresses up in blackface and pretends to be a minority at Harvard University. During his time at Harvard Mark reinforces negative stereotypes about black men. For instance that they are all pimps, murders, and athletes. He falls in love with a black classmate and the movie shifts into an awkward forced love story. The film presents poor jokes consistently throughout. There’s a joke where Mark is oversexualized by one of his classmates because he is “black.” After engaging in sexual intercourse his classmate makes the comment that the stereotype about black men’s manhood doesn’t pertain to him.

Carol Black argued that the film was intended to be a comedy, but it was also intended to show that racial jokes are not funny (Cottman). The two claims seem to contradict each other.

Soul Man was written with the intent to entertain, but so was Watermelon Man. Somehow Soul Man missed the mark with creating a revolutionary film that called America’s racism into questions.

Full movie link to Soul Man.

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