This post concerns a slip in the film Juno that arguably implies a small bit of racism on someone's part. I'm not sure whose. But it will take a bit to get there. Just so you know.
To set this up, I need to briefly map the route of a particular train of thought: While discussing bad movies over dinner, Aly mentioned Spanglish, which I've never seen and which I only recall as starring Paz Vega, an actress who I like to describe as the woman who stole Penelope Cruz's DNA. (Seriously, the two look similar enough that, had they been competing species and not sexy, Spanish-speaking actresses, one would have gone extinct by now. And I think that one would be Paz Vega.) Anyway, Spanglish brought me to that movie Along Came a Spider, which stars Morgan Freeman and a blonde actress who has Julia Roberts' face. (Possibly for reals; Roberts may have shed her God-given face sometime in the late 90s.) Only, at the time, I recall neither the title of the movie nor pseudo-Julia Roberts's name. (The latter is Monica Potter, the internet tells me, and I now recall that I've written about both her and Paz Vega before, on this very blog and in the very same post.) But about Along Came a Spider: I could only recall that it was a prequel to another movie whose name I couldn't recall. This second, temporarily nameless film starred Freeman and Ashley Judd and had the pair solving murders and so forth. (Another recalled tidbit: Mena Suvari and the younger sister from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were also in it.) Both Aly and Spencer informed me that the film I was thinking of was The Bone Collector. I, however, wasn't sure this was right, because I actually saw The Bone Collector in the theater and I could have sworn I remember Angelina Jolie being in it. Thus, a computer made its way to the dinner table and — with the help of IMDb, that ender of so many "Who was in that one movie?" arguements — we discovered that not only was Angelina Jolie the female lead in The Bone Collector but that Morgan Freeman wasn't in the film at all. It was Denzel Washington. We had conflated The Bone Collector and Kiss the Girls.
So what, then, put the idea in all of our heads that Morgan Freeman played the hero in The Bone Collector?
Well, in the past few weeks, all three of us saw Juno at least once. (Aly and I actually saw it twice.) And in the movie, the title character delivers this one line during a telephone conversation with Leah, the best friend character. Leah questions whether she's speaking with Juno and Juno joke-answer's "No, it's Morgan Freeman. Do you have any bones that need collecting?" (Part of the line is even in the film's trailer, I'm pretty sure. Leah's response, "Only the one in my pants," isn't.) So I guess Aly, Spencer and I can all weasel out of owning up to the mistake ourselves by claiming that Juno put the idea in our heads that Morgan Freeman, not Denzel Washington, starred in The Bone Collector. Theoretically, we could also say that Diablo Cody, the film's writer, is at fault for confusing one accomplished African-American actor with another, though she could have possibly written the scene knowing who actually starred in what with the intention of making Juno at fault. (I couldn't imagine why one would deliberately give a character that specific flaw though, especially since Juno seems otherwise preternaturally pop culture-savvy.) At the same time, however, we can't really blame anyone here. Whether Cody or Juno biffed this one, none of us questioned it until confronted with the irrefutable proof that is IMDb.
I have to admit that whether the mistake implies racism is totally arguable. One could view the Morgan Freeman-Denzel Washington confusion as a totally innocent case of mistaken identity. Sometimes you confuse one person with another, after all, and both men acting in fairly similar roles: crime-crusading mystery solvers paired with Caucasian women who eventually save the day. However, whenever a member of Race A mistakes two people of Race B, it opens the gate for that old complaint of "Oh, I guess we all look alike to you." Hackneyed, yes, but totally present nonetheless. Bob J. Whitey can confuse Judi Dench and Maggie Smith all day, but the minute he mistakes Cicely Tyson for CCH Pounder, the specter of racism arises, warranted or not. (An appendix to this rule: Refer to Ruby Dee as Sandra Dee and people just think you're an idiot.)
Let's say for a minute that the Juno line does, in fact, imply a small bit of racism. The complaint, I guess, is a tiny one in the scope of the movie itself, especially because if one wanted to accuse Juno of being racist, one's best bet would be picking on the scene in which the title character meets her Asian-American pro-lifer classmate Su-Chin outside the abortion clinic. For whatever reason, Su-Chin can't seem to grasp the concept of irregular verbs and, thus, chants the phrase "All babies want to get borned!" Pretty lame, really, in light of the fact that the advanced placement-seeming Juno and Su-Chin are in the same class. They even discuss having to write a paper, which I'd bet would be especially problematic for someone who speaks English as badly as Su-Chin does. One could counter even this, however, with the idea that Cody dumbed down the lone pro-lifer in a film about teen pregnancy in order to avoid being categorized as an anti-abortion writer.
If that's not clear enough, dear readers, I'll summarize my answer to your question: In short, I'd have to say "lobster."