A new MGM film, “American Fiction”, is currently receiving critical acclaim from left-leaning publications for its portrayal of the hypocrisy within Hollywood and beyond. The irony of this praise is not lost on the film’s audience, as it is a commentary on the way the establishment tends to favor reductive portrayals of blackness in the name of diversity and inclusion, often at the expense of quality.
The film follows the story of a black professor, Thelonious ‘Monk’ Ellison (played by Jeffrey Wright), who is frustrated with his snowflake students and the lack of critical interest in his work. In a moment of exasperation, Monk jokingly writes a novel filled with racial stereotypes, only for it to become a surprise success. The film pokes fun at powerful white liberals in the publishing world and Hollywood who eagerly embrace the outlandish parody, entitled “My Pafology”.
The reviews for “American Fiction” are showering it with accolades, with some outlets declaring that it reframes what black success means for writers and others hailing it as an absolute triumph. However, the irony lies in the fact that these left-leaning publications are praising a film that skewers their own ideology and behavior.
In the movie, Monk only finds commercial success when he writes a ‘hood’ novel under the pseudonym of a white conman. This success comes at the cost of ignoring his privilege and pandering to the white liberal obsession with race. The film cleverly highlights the absurdity of this obsession and questions why it is that stories of black struggle, abuse, and violence are the only ones that receive mainstream recognition and praise.
Hollywood itself is not let off the hook in “American Fiction”. A major target in the movie is a pseudo-woke filmmaker who insists on referring to Monk as “brother.” The character’s latest film is a horror featuring a wedding on a plantation, a pointed reference to the real-life wedding of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. This subplot serves as a commentary on Hollywood’s performative attempts at being “woke” while continuing to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and narratives.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the film’s creator Cord Jefferson explains that while movies like “12 Years a Slave” are important, they also perpetuate the notion that black life is solely filled with tragedy, violence, and pain. He believes that this reduction of black life to a single narrative is a reflection of Hollywood’s inability to see black people as complex and multifaceted individuals.
.@cordjefferson says his directorial debut, “American Fiction,” was inspired, in part, by the “rigid limitation” he saw in how Black life was represented in media.
He tells CBS Mornings about his journey to making the movie. pic.twitter.com/PikT7k5QPj
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) December 20, 2023
“American Fiction” holds a mirror up to Hollywood and the publishing world, forcing them to confront their own hypocrisy and shortcomings. The film calls for a broadening of perspectives and a move away from the narrow and often harmful portrayals of blackness in media. It highlights the importance of representation and diversity, but also the danger of reducing that representation to a single story.
— The Tonight Show (@FallonTonight) December 23, 2023
With its biting satire and clever commentary, “American Fiction” is a must-watch for anyone interested in Hollywood’s inner workings and the complexities of representation in media.