Are you a formerly “hot” actreess whose career is in freefall? Your movies are clearing the theaters like an outbreak of H1N1 and you’re inching ever closer to “direct to DVD” oblivion?
Do what Sandra Bullock did. Get yourself a Magic Negro.
Let’s take the example of Jennifer Aniston whose latest clunker, The Bounty Hunter, reeks of failure and flop sweat.
The business of Hollywood is to turn pure fantasy into reality. Fantasies such as Adam Sandler is funny, Michael Bay isn’t a terrible director, Meryl Streep could play the lead in The Oprah Winfrey Story if she put her mind to it, and Jennifer Aniston is going to keep making movies until we all believe she’s a great actress.
Aniston’s post-Friends career has been the answer to the question, “Whatever happened to the star of Leprechaun?”
Aniston is the quintessential California blonde. She’s leggy, perpetually youthful, fresh-faced and pretty. Her fans believe she standing on the verge of a breakout role. The Bounty Hunter isn’t going to be the one as it is getting spectacularly awful reviews (a staggering seven percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes). If you remember Robert DeNiro chasing down Charles Grodin in Midnight Run and Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn on the run from hitmen in Bird On A Wire, you’ve seen this movie already. There! I just saved you two hours and ten dollars.
There’s no chance a Black actress would still have a career with as many underperforming films as Aniston. Whomever her agent is they’ve been remarkably successful in keeping Aniston busy. When Meg Ryan got both old and weird-looking and Goldie Hawn retired, Jennifer Aniston was there to make the jump from sit-coms to rom-coms despite basically playing slight variations of her role on Friends.
Hollywood has always attempted to groom starlets into stars, but the persistence in which it seems six months can’t go by without another Jennifer Aniston movie that looks exactly the same as the last Jennifer movie.
At the age of 41, time is rapidly running out for Aniston if she hopes to ever make the leap from eternally perky ingenue to award-winning, accomplished actress. She tried the femme fatale part with Clive Owen in Derailed but nobody cared. What’s left? Either she’ll have to ugly up and play against type like Charlize Theron in Monster, contract some terminal disease and die with dignity or she can show her acting chops by taking on a historical figure. Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Hilary Swank can’t do them all, can they? At this point, Aniston can continue to make plenty of money, but earning respect will prove to be more elusive.
So what’s a girl to do?
Find herself a Magic Negro the way Bullock did in The Blind Side.
As long as she uses her Magic Negro properly to show how kindly, liberal and progressive she is by standing up for a poor colored boy or girl who can’t do it for themselves it’s a lock to be nominated for Golden Globes and Academy Awards. The critics will praise her for showing her “range” and audiences eat this kind of corny crap up with a knife and fork.
Magic Negroes come in all sizes, shapes and genders. Whoopi Goldberg was the go-to girl for this kind of role, but she kind of wore it out. Michael Clarke Duncan was the hulk with the healing touch in The Green Mile. Will Smith showed Matt Damon how to get his mojo workin’ in The Legend of Bagger Vance. Denzel Washington beat, shot, blew up and tortured anyone standing between him and Dakota Fanning in Man On Fire.
The undisputed king of Magic Negro roles is Morgan Freeman. The man just has the ability to bring out the best in White folks. Driving Miss Daisy, Glory, The Shawshank Redemption, Unforgiven, Bruce Almighty, Million Dollar Baby are just a few of the many roles in which Freeman has been the Black man that makes White people want to do the right thing. Even Batman knew he had to have Freeman as Lucius Fox to make all the wonderful toys he needs to do his job.
Oh, and remember, Magic Negroes are not subject to Jungle Fever. Not under any circumstances. Magic Negroes are supposed to be inspirational, father figures, charity cases, wise beyond their years or hopelessly devoted to turning around the lives of their patrons. They are not sex objects.
Jennifer Lopez, another Jennifer whose career has tanked lately, is remaking Goldie Hawn’s Overboard, so maybe Aniston should follow that path. Aniston is about the age Hawn was when she made Wildcats, the cliched fish-out-of-water story of a woman picked to coach a losing high school football team. White women and Black jocks go together like peanut butter and jelly, so why not give it a go?
But Aniston might want to hurry. With Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger starting to look a little desperate demand will be high, suppiles low and Freeman isn’t getting any younger.