But I haven't written yet about another way such characters add spice to blandly white entertainment--as comic relief. These characters tend to appear as humorous, racially distinct sidekicks.
Although Disney's Mulan is not technically a "white" movie in this sense (since the central character is Chinese), the character voiced by Eddie Murphy--a tiny dragon named Mushu--nevertheless fulfills this kind of comic, racially marked function. I remember wondering when I saw this movie back in the day, "Why the hell did they insert this markedly black American character into a movie about ancient China?"
Mulan was released in 1998, and we might hope that movies are better now--that entertainment made for kids offer less of this "whites at the center and darker folks pulled in from the margins when we need some laughs" kind of thing.
But alas--it looks like another dose of (white) "family entertainment" that's coming down the pike takes this thing to a whole new level of crass stupidity.
In Tommy and the Cool Mule, a whole bunch of white folks get their hijinks going, all with the help of a mule that's "cool" because it talks like a stereotypically "black" man.
Tommy and the Cool Mule looks so terrible that I have trouble believing it's real. But the Internet Movie Database says it is, and that it's set for release on May 26. The following trailer says that the mule's voice is provided by . . . Ice-T?!
What do you think--Is this movie another nasty case of Magical Negroism? And does this look like a movie that you'll soon be enjoying with some young ones?