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Are We to Blame for Sexism and Racism on Screen?

Posted: 03/06/2013 00:00

By Rachel Carlyon

The release of The Hangover Part III last week saw the doors finally close on this pointlessly prolonged trilogy. As expected, the reviews haven't been good, with the critics' main focus being on how racist and sexist The Hangover Part III is in comparison to its predecessors.

Still, that's unlikely to stop all those cinemagoers insistent on seeing what crazy mishaps the Wolfpack might get themselves into this time, regardless of how unashamedly degrading the entire franchise is towards anyone who isn't a straight, white male. But that begs the question: why do we as audiences keep going back for more of the same when we know what to expect? Are we the ones perpetuating racism and sexism on screen?

Despite receiving its fair share of negative reviews, the first Hangover film was generally a critical success, although that was probably due to the fact that the critics weren't used to what would become a tedious formula at that point. The Hangover even provided a few laughs, albeit at the expense of female and racial stereotypes.

So there was a black drug dealer, an Asian gangster and women that came in two forms: prostitutes, or successful career women, and therefore cold, nagging bitches. Oh, and there was also a man left in charge of a baby (a dim-witted, tubby man at that, which made it all the more hilarious). The Hangover Part II was exactly the same, only set in Thailand and possibly more offensive. And now, we have a third. We knew what we were in for.

Have we as viewers let this happen? The first in the series wasn't exactly the type of film that was screaming the word "sequel", but apparently racist and sexist humour sells, so that's what we got. Again and again. And we still keep going to see it.

It's not the first time audiences have fallen into this habit - just look at the Transformers franchise. It's a series that seems to consist solely of racist stereotypes and unnecessary objectifying close-ups of Megan Fox, and yet still it triumphed at the box office, even though cinemagoers knew the last two were going to be just the same as the first one. Sadly, unlike The Hangover, Transformers hasn't died an eagerly anticipated death yet. Three films into his ridiculous franchise, Michael Bay recently announced the news of a fourth instalment, which Mark Kermode eloquently expressed his reaction to here.

Audiences of franchises like these must either repress their feelings of discomfort during their stupid derogatory jokes or genuinely just not care. Although critics and viewers had something to say about the offensive content of The Hangover, enough tickets were sold to generate two sequels of similarly cheap humour which grossed even more than the original. It ultimately proves that, in Hollywood, money really does speak louder than words.

So when we nonchalantly buy our ticket for The Hangover Part III at the cinema, we are basically asking for more of the same and fuelling the industry's unpleasant go-to humour. Some people obviously still find the series funny, and probably don't see what the fuss is all about when people criticise it. But even though a growing number of viewers are getting bored of the same mindless blockbusters and tired-out formats, we are still buying into it. Don't be surprised if The Hangover IV: The Epic Reunion hits our screens in a few years time. We'll only have ourselves to blame.

 

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