The new comedy Identity Thief stars Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman as two very different people forced to trek from Florida to Denver to settle a score.
Nothing unusual there given McCarthy’s rising star status and Bateman’s reputation as Hollywood’s go-to guy for droll humor. The filmmakers still managed to squeeze in a slam at flyover country in between the yuks and car chases.
A supporting character, played by Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet, has a confrontation with a pair of mobsters–one Latina, one black. Stonestreet’s character, a Southerner, tells the two he’s a “traditional” American, and therefore isn’t all too keen on foreigners or people of color.
Now, had the character simply been a bigot it wouldn’t be an issue. Screenwriters can craft all sorts of characters, from noble hearts to darker souls who hate others for the color of their skin. The film’s screenwriter, Craig Mazin, clearly had something else in mind by including the word “traditional” in the sequence. It fits snugly into the media’s broader attempts to paint traditional (read: conservative) Americans as racist in order to silence or diminish their views.
Identity Thief opens nationwide Friday.