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Chris Rock Tells Frank Rich: “‘Lost in Translation’ Is a Black Movie”

Chris Rock Tells Frank Rich: "'Lost in Translation' Is a Black Movie"

The comedian has a new film coming December 12, “Top Five,” which he wrote and directed and stars in. In the Rich interview, Rock at one point puts himself in the shoes of a journalist covering Ferguson:

Rock: I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people.

Rich: Well, that would be much more revealing.

Rock: Yes, that would be an event. Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.

Rich: Right. It’s ridiculous.

Rock: So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

But one of the more revealing aspects of the interview is Rock’s response to questions on being black in Hollywood, prompted by Rich asking “Where else besides Ferguson would you hypothetically want to interview white people?” With regards to “Lost in Translation,” Rock is talking about the ostracizing effects of being an outsider in an expansively lonely environment of insiders (there, Tokyo) when you’re the outsider.

Rock: I don’t think I’ve had any meetings with black film execs. Maybe one. It is what it is. As I told Bill Murray, “Lost in Translation” is a black movie: That’s what it feels like to be black and rich. Not in the sense that people are being mean to you. Bill Murray’s in Tokyo, and it’s just weird. He seems kind of isolated. He’s always around Japanese people. Look at me right now.

Rich: We’re sitting on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel overlooking Central Park.

Rock: And there’s only really one black person here who’s not working. Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation” is what Bryant Gumbel experiences every day. Or Al Roker. Rich black guys. It’s a little off. But the thing is, we treat racism in this country like it’s a style that America went through. Like flared legs and lava lamps. Oh, that crazy thing we did. We were hanging black people. We treat it like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people. You’ve got to get it at a lab, and study it, and see its origins, and see what it’s immune to and what breaks it down.

The whole interview really is worth a closer read, here.

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