Soul Man: The Genesis of Cancel Culture

On October 24, 1986 (35 years ago this week), the American comedy Soul Man was released in theaters. The film was a box office success, as it debuted at No. 3 on its opening weekend (behind only Crocodile Dundee and The Color of Money). It ultimately grossed $35 million on a $4.5 million budget. The movie instantly became entangled in controversy, and was canceled almost immediately because the plot depicted a White actor in blackface:

Mark Watson (Howell) is the pampered son of a rich family who is about to attend Harvard Law School along with his best friend Gordon (Gross). Unfortunately, his father’s neurotic psychiatrist talks his patient into having more fun for himself instead of spending money on his son. Faced with the prospect of having to pay for law school by himself, Mark decides to apply for a scholarship, but the only suitable one is for African-Americans only. He decides to cheat by using tanning pills in a larger dose than prescribed to appear as an African-American. Watson then sets out for Harvard, naïvely believing that black people have no problems at all in American society.

However, once immersed in a black student’s life, Mark finds out prejudice and racism truly exist. He meets a young African-American student named Sarah Walker (Chong), whom he first only flirts with; gradually, however, he genuinely falls in love with her. In passing, she mentions that he received the scholarship she was in the running for at the last minute. Due to this, she not only has to handle her classes but work as a waitress to support herself and her young son George.

Slowly, Mark begins to regret his deed since he has landed in jail under suspicion of stealing his own car, been the subject of stereotypes of black men and pursued by his landlord’s daughter and classmate Whitney (Melora Hardin) simply because he’s not white.

After a chaotic day in which Sarah, his parents (who are not aware of his double life) and Whitney all make surprise visits at the same time, he drops the charade and publicly reveals himself to be white. Most people he has come into contact with realize this makes sense, but Sarah is furious.

Once the charade is over, Mark speaks to his professor (Jones). He has learned more than he bargained for since he admits that he didn’t know what it was like to truly be black because he could have changed back to being white at any time.

Because Mark must forfeit his scholarship, his father agrees to loan him the money for school, but with exorbitant interest. He goes to Sarah and begs for another chance, to which she agrees after Mark stands up for her and George when two male students tell a racist joke in front of them.

The movie is a comedy, so obviously it’s going to try to make people laugh. Different comedies do that in different ways, but there is usually some degree of ridiculousness involved. Soul Man‘s shtick was to grossly exaggerate stereotypical behaviors in the hopes of being funny. The depictions presented in the film were intended to make fun of both Black and White people, with the idea of highlighting the cultural misconceptions that each group held of the other, then present them in an outlandish way, so that the audience could laugh at the ignorant nature of racist generalizations. In doing so, the movie could moonlight as a tool of social justice, which would also help debunk racism by showing the stupidity and evil associated with racial stereotypes.

As an illustration of the aforementioned humor, the following clip is perhaps the most memorable scene of the movie and illustrates why the movie could never be made today—for a lot of reasons, including that most people would find the “humor” forced and awkward. It’s also reminiscent of the goofiness of 80s comedies, which also included movies such as Airplane, Spaceballs, and Police Academy:

However, not everybody thought the comedy was funny. A young filmmaker named Spike Lee became the biggest spokesperson against the movie. Lee had just made his directorial debut with She’s Gotta Have It, and was making rounds on the talk show circuit in support of his project. During one of the interviews, Lee went into a tirade about Soul Man‘s portrayal of Black people as “idiots.” He admitted that he had never actually seen the movie, but “watched clips.” He insisted that the movie was “so phony” that it had to be maliciously mocking the intelligence of Black people by implying that Black people were so dumb that they couldn’t tell that it was actually a White guy in blackface:

“The whole premise is that he’s passing as Black, and it’s so phony, that means all the Black people in the movie are idiots … that they could think that this guy is Black,” said Lee, who had watched clips from the movie but refused to see it in full.

“They’re trying to pass it off as an attack on racism. I really don’t see it that way. That’s not funny to me.”

Of course, the filmmakers and actors denied the film was racist (yes, White people groveled to Blacks in the 80s, too). But, as we all know, “sorry” and “actually,….” never suffice.

Thus, it became futile when the film’s creators posited that “a white man can’t understand racism until he’s the one being discriminated against.” Or, that they intended “to use comedy as a device to expose racial stereotyping.”

Nor did it matter that the star of the movie (C. Thomas Howell) reiterated the producer’s message of anti-racism when asked about his decision to play the blackface character (the role had been offered to, and turned down by, several popular actors of the time, including: Anthony Micheal Hall, Tim Robbins, Val Kilmer and John Cusak):

“A white man donning blackface is taboo. Conversation over, you can’t win,” said Howell. “But our intentions were pure: We wanted to make a funny movie that had a message about racism.”

Even though there is no reason to suggest the creators or Howell were lying, it didn’t matter. Lee had the moral high ground because he was Black. He then used his black skin morality to determine what was supposedly funny. And if anybody wanted to contest his definition of humor, he would’ve slandered them with epithets (e.g., “racist”). Hence, there was no other choice but to cancel a movie that people evidently thought was funny and were willing to pay to watch.

Lee added clarity to his primary critique of the movie. It wasn’t just that it wasn’t funny to him, he also insisted that the ulterior motive was that it was “really an attack on affirmative action.”

Interestingly, during the clearly uncomfortable interview, Lee failed to comment on the intellectual stereotypes (and realities) associated with affirmative action. It would seem if he was opposed to Black people looking like “idiots,” he would be adamantly against affirmative action—especially considering that affirmative action was/is a real thing and not just some ignorant stereotype in a movie. Non-Black people actually did/do lose out to intellectually inferior Blacks who can’t compete without special privileges. If Lee were seriously concerned about the intellectual image of Blacks, he would’ve been the one leading the “attack on affirmative action.”

Furthermore, affirmative action programs are racist by design. Consequently, by the mere existence of such programs, they create negative stereotypes on their own. If Lee (or the creators of the movie) were actually hoping to eliminate racial stereotypes associated with Black people, they would’ve advocated for the elimination of affirmative action programs. Instead, they are allowed to exist, which give us more fodder to laugh at. Like Rachael Dolezal, who pretended to be Black so she could be the leader of her local NAACP chapter. And Dave Wilson, who pretended to be Black so he could win an elected position in a predominately Black district. Or Vijah Jojo Chokal-Ingam, who pretended to be Black to get into medical school.

Just recently a survey found that 34% of White college applicants lied about their race in order to get admitted or to get financial aid, and 77% were accepted. A whole generation of college students is using Elizabeth Warren as a role model. Amazingly the Black activist Ibram Kendi tweeted the story, presumably because it makes these Whites look dishonest—forgetting that it also demolishes his narrative about systemic racial oppression. He quickly deleted the tweet.

Each of these Whites presented a real-life version of Soul Man as a direct result of unequal privileges that come with being Black in America. That “privilege” is explicitly based on the intellectual inferiority of Black people (although of course the advocates claim it’s about making up for that  elusive “systemic racism”). If Lee really cared about the stigmas associated with Black intelligence, he would use his skin color powerful privilege to point out how dumb affirmative action programs make Black people look.

Ironically, Ronald Reagan’s son played a minor role in the film. Reagan was President at the time and was openly opposed to affirmative action programs. The President and First Lady screened the movie from Camp David and a White House spokesman reported that they “really enjoyed the film and especially enjoyed seeing their son Ron in the movie.”

The film’s co-star was Tommy Chong’s daughter, Rae Dawn Chong. Chong played the “Black” love interest of Howell (Howell and Chong later married after meeting on the film). Chong (who is White, Black, Chinese and Indian) and Howell both remained staunch supporters of the movie years later—albeit from an anti-racist/anti-White perspective. Chong even publicly blamed Lee for making the film controversial, and said if he had actually watched the film, he would’ve seen that the film was really just “making white people look stupid”:

“It was only controversial because Spike Lee made a thing of it,” the actress said in a 2016 interview with The Wrap. “He’d never seen the movie and he just jumped all over it… He was just starting and pulling everything down in his wake. If you watch the movie, it’s really making white people look stupid.”

Imagine that. A mulatto actress defended her position that the movie she starred in wasn’t really racist, because if anyone actually took the time to watch it they would’ve seen that it was “really just making White people look stupid.”

Isn’t it funny how everyone’s feelings matter until you get to White people?

All joking aside, the actors and filmmakers said their comedy was an attack on racism, and some whiny anti-racist Black guy said it wasn’t. So, who was right?

Therein lies the foundational problem of multiculturalism, abstract isms (e.g., racism) and feelings-based social hierarchies (e.g., cancel-culture). When those dynamics become the arbitrators of society, the feelings of a few determine the social norms of the many. Those social norms become revolutionary, to the degree that they redefine truth and reason. They do this using social-engineering techniques (i.e., censorship) that ultimately reconstruct reality, in the sense that reality becomes a social construct.

What started with a whiny Black guy who didn’t like the humor in a movie paved the way for a Jewish man in a dress to not only be the nation’s leading authority on public health, but also the nation’s first female 4-star admiral.

Now do you get it?

15 replies
  1. Jacobite
    Jacobite says:

    Just to address the title — the origin of cancel culture, and I’d guess, the most extreme example, was the crucifixion of Charles Lindbergh after his 9-11-41 Iowa speech for “America First”. He simply pointed out a fact — that Americans were 85-90% opposed to US entry into the European war, and only Brits, Jews, and the FDR Administration (to the extent it wasn’t Jewish) were pushing America into it. Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s description of the following week in her life was harrowing.

    • Hans Frank
      Hans Frank says:

      Father Coughlin was not only cancelled from the radio but even barred from sending his peace pamphlets by US mail. Lindbergh field in San Diego has since been renamed and the large mural that used to greet flyers as they entered painted over.

      • Emicho
        Emicho says:

        It’s not even as if the American non-Jewish elite wasn’t aware of the danger organised Jewry represented, hence the famous recording of Nixen and Graham discussing the fact that if something isn’t done about these Jews, we are going to lose the country to them. Which is exactly what happened.
        The American intelligence services were to a man from about 1880-ish to 1960-ish aware that the greatest threat to American as a self governing nation was the international Jewish conspiracy.
        And just to prove that not all Jews are bad, Benjamin Disraeli badgered the British elite for 30 years during the 19th century that the greatest threat to humanity was, again, the international Jewish conspiracy. He never stopped explaining to anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t, that this conspiracy was organised around the secret societies of Europe, which Jews had managed to first infiltrate, and then take over.
        And for this he was mocked as being obsessed with secret societies. The fact he was aware of this, yet continued to do what was right, shows Disraeli to be one of Britain’s greatest ever sons.
        Of course he was Sephardic, which gave him insight a gentile wouldn’t have, and by all accounts most Sephardics animosity to these Azkenazi Ostenjuden was based on their own self interest. Still, Disraeli went above and beyond what was expected of him.

  2. Mr.Huggins
    Mr.Huggins says:

    “The whole premise is that he’s passing as Black, and it’s so phony, that means all the Black people in the movie are idiots … that they could think that this guy is Black,” said Lee . . . ”
    Is Rachel Dolezal a joke to YOU!?

  3. Al Ross
    Al Ross says:

    Brits were not pushing America into it. Churchill’s mother was an American, unlike most mothers of Brits .

    Churchill , unelected, took a reluctant populace to War . Churchill’s financiers pushed him in a direction he was very keen to go.

    His financiers were known as ” The Focus ” . Guess which Race ?

    • Emicho
      Emicho says:

      Winston Churchill was the worst enemy Britain ever had. No man did more to destroy our army, navy, empire and country. Nor can I think of any man who was personally responsible for more deaths of British servicemen. It wasn’t just the Dardanelles, it was the catastrophic Norway campaign as well.
      I’ve no proof, as if there was any, it would have been destroyed decades ago. But I reckon Churchill was Edward the VII’s kid. Firstly because he is his double. Secondly, because he couldn’t look any different from his ‘father’ Randolph, or his mother, so where did those podgy looks come from? It’s accepted his mother was one of Edward’s whores, and Randolph was at one point threatening to dethrone Edward from the line of succession.
      That’s the main points. The rest of the evidence is Churchill’s charmed life, where no matter how many things he bolloxed up, he was always given a second, third, fourth, fifth chance in political life.
      Then there was the letters Churchill wrote, nearly every day, to Edward when young Winston was abroad. What’s this all about? Hasn’t a Prince of Wales got better things to do than interact with a mediocre, spoilt child of the aristocracy?
      As for the Jewish Focus group founding Churchill, why him? He was a deadbeat, finished politically in the 1930’s. The Focus could just as easily been a cut out for the Royal Family.
      Then there was the unbelievable censorship on all Winston’s drunken meetings with all sorts of generals, ambassadors, kings & high politicos. Well that was because he was British PM, it couldn’t be leaked that he was an absolute wreck of an alcoholic who sent sailors and airmen to their death by the thousands due to his drunken stupidity. Nor that he he hid in the country as soon as he heard London was to be bombed.
      Nor could it come out that enjoyed flashing his naked body at anyone and everyone from maids and footmen to generals and ambassadors.
      Maybe. But it seems much more like the sort of covering up they do for royalty that simple common politicians. Churchill had a lifetime of enemies remember, who knew exactly what a catastrophe he was driving our nation into. Why didn’t they leak it? The ones he didn’t have locked up without trial I mean(even the Nazis provided trials of a sort).
      Maybe some Yanks don’t know, but those famous “fight them on the beaches” speeches you know so well, that wasn’t Churchill, that was an actor, as Churchill was far too blitzed on champagne and port at that time of night to even read a speech over the radio. Yet this man was micro-managing our war effort.
      We all know the victor’s history of Germany’s mistakes, imagine Germany won and we all knew Britian’s f-ups?

  4. bruno
    bruno says:

    This brief article speaks volumes about the actual state of affairs. It’s no secret that the country is divided. Lets us thank the author for participating in this vital topic.

    We were at a restaurant yesterday and were listening to everyone speaking about the election. If a person were to adjudicate by those in the restaurant and elections, half the country are wiggers. People don’t want to harm Bs, they just want to retain their own kultura and heritage…

    Everyone converses about corporatists in our Monopoly Age. What’s also fascinating is the scope of those paid in censorship and those wounded. For example, those of us who admire folks like Taylor and KMac (for their desire to simply have open communique), have been at the front’s battle field. KMac was denied use of PayPal. Think about that. I was denied commenting on YouTube. The reason: When those two anti-majority Bs, told 2 Ws they couldn’t study in a multicultural hall at AZ U, I indicated that was reverse discrimination and wrong. Added was the fact that, in the past, a person had to be able to do math, conversion in a foreign language and write a dissertation.

    Open communique is a myth in Amdom. It’s propagated by monopoly media. Men are now a minority in most university systems. Western culture is evolving. No one knows where the evolution will take us. One could converse on this all day.

  5. Marcion
    Marcion says:

    “Revenge of the Nerds” is more instructive. In this film a coalition of “Intersectionality” (lead by Jewish looking “Nerds” named Wormser, Scolnik, and Lowe) takes down the white mannerbunde using the following tactics: pornography of the white women, chemical warfare on the genitals of white men, rape of white woman by deception, and, then, at the end, preach equality while using a civil rights group of black guys as bodyguards.

    Here is the narrative: The white guys burn down their own house through decadence. Then they takeover the Nerds first house and then they destroy the rebuilt house. Jewish history?

  6. Dorothy Walker
    Dorothy Walker says:

    I remember this movie well, mostly because I found its premises offensive. It was just fine to discriminate against white students in the name of social justice; the problem occurred when whites pushed back in the other direction. The movie also gives a free pass to those perpetrating violence in the name of fighting racism. In the final scene, two white boys are telling a joke. “Two black dudes decide to get vasectomies. One appears at the vasectomy clinic wearing a tuxedo. The under-dressed black dude asks, ‘Why is you all dressed up to get a vasectomy?’ The dude in the tuxedo says, ‘I decided that if I’m going to be impotent, I should look impotent.” Overhearing this joke, the movie’s hero physically assaults the two white boys.

    His lessons have been internalized.

    Not unlike what has happened to our society as a whole, in the last forty years.

  7. Dorothy Walker
    Dorothy Walker says:

    The primary function of any government is to protect and perpetuate the nation-state and culture that placed it in power. Other societal institutions — academia, the media, etc. — will follow suit, with the aim that the society will be functional and healthy.

    Today, our institutions do the opposite, and have taken a decidedly deconstructive stance toward America’s founding nation, stock, and culture. My gut tells me it will end not with the mere destruction of careers, statues, memorials, books and icons. It will end where we already getting intimations that it will end: in execution pits.

  8. guest
    guest says:

    I went to see if the makers of the film (Steven Miner, Carol Black) were jewish. They certainly sound jewish but “Early Life and Education” is silent on the matter.

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