Monday, March 12, 2012

Coonskin

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Coonskin - 4 out of 5

A friend of mine on Facebook who loves movies just as much as I do recommended this one to me a couple of weeks ago.  Since he was the one who turned me on to the amazing classic cop drama Da Vinci's Inquest and since I will NEVER turn down a recommendation, I without hesitation agreed to watch this 1975 controversial film.

Even dead, Barry White still can't get enough of your love.

Ever notice how Bugs Bunny is all like, "What's up, Doc?"
and Brother Rabbit is all like, "What's the haps, Brother?"
Coonskin is about a prison break that acts as a backdrop to the film's main story.  While awaiting their escape ride, one convict tells the story of Brother Rabbit, Brother Bear and old Preacher Fox.  The film sheds its live-action candy-shell and bounces into mild-altering animation chocolate center that looks like it could make one have a Vietnam flashback without the danger of actually serving in Vietnam.  After losing their Southern home, the trio sets out to find their fortune in the city but discover a world of debauchery, racism, homophobia, violence and drugs.  The cartoons quickly take control of Harlem and must take on a racist dirty cop and finally taking on the Godfather, his wife and gay sons.  All this culminates in a battle for control for the city before returning to the live-action and the prison escape.  All the while the film managers to offend nearly every single person that can possibly exist.

The images that haunt Fred Phelps' dreams at night...or the images that delight him
every night.  You decide.

Prior to its release in the 70s, the film, without being viewed, was immediately declared racist, homophobic and deeply offensive.  One of the film's biggest detractors and a man who lead various protests against its release was none other than the Reverend Al Sharpton--who never actually saw the film but already made his decision on it, I thought judging a book by its cover was a bad thing...except in the case of Twilight.  You're not fooling anyone by having a chess piece on your books, Stephanie Meyer.  The plots to your books are nowhere NEAR complex as a single game of chess.  Hell, Mouse Trap is more thought-provoking than the stories and characters you create.

Scatman Crothers is the man telling the story.  Hopefully he'll tell us about The Shining next!

Coonskin is far from a "let's be offensive for the sake of being offensive" piece of entertainment.  Sure it looks like that on the surface but Coonskin is actually a complex strata of satire that becomes more art than entertainment.  If Sharpton actually sat down and watched the film, he would see what famed animator and director Ralph Bakshi was trying to create.  Like all crafty men attacking a social issue, Bakshi used the concepts of racism and homophobia to attack racism and homophobia.  Sure that sounds like putting out fire with gasoline but what Bakshi delivered was so over-the-top that he put the fire out with a bazooka.

Hey, my old landlord is in this!

Bakshi took all the stereotypes that members of the Klan and guys who are scared of homosexuals to the extent that their usual form of insult is something along the lines of telling another man to perform a certain sexual act on their certain sexual part (which seems like an odd insult considering that person is homophobic)--anyway, Bakshi took all those things that the narrow-minded individuals of this country hold dear and threw them back into their faces with a sharp satirical edge and that edge aimed for the jugular...the jugular of the mind!  Bakshi fought racism and homophobia using racism and homophobia!  It's no wonder people got the wrong idea and protested this film.

Barry White is the voice of Brother Bear and, in case you were wondering, even at the end of
this blog, he STILL can't get enough of your love!

Coonskin went on to become a cult classic and will see its first DVD release this year.  Will this release be met with the controversy it was born with?  Probably not, but having this film still exist shows how far our society has come since the 70s and how much farther we still have to go.

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