By the time 1988 rolled around, the giants of edgy comedy had lost some of their edge.
Norman Lear was no longer on TV. Eddie Murphy was about to move into his Boomerang/ Distinguished Gentlemen phase. Richard Pryor was making cheap comedies. Mel Brooks’ next movie would be Life Stinks. George Carlin had become an elder statesmen. Saturday Night Live was still working out of its mid-80’s doldrums.
With the all-important torch of inappropriate comedy just lying around waiting to be picked up, along came 29-year-old Keenan Ivory Wayans and his modest hit and cult-classic, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.
By 1988, Wayans had spent the better part of a decade working his way up the show-biz ropes as a standup comedian and sometime actor. Everything changed after he teamed with his friend (and underrated genius) Robert Townsend to write Hollywood Shuffle (1987).
Hollywood Shuffle is a minor masterpiece — a withering, hilarious, touching, and angry (but never mean-spirited) satire about the indignities of being a black actor in a Hollywood culture that’s only looking for pimps, hookers, junkies, and “Eddie Murphy types.”
Wayans co-starred, and while Shuffle was produced for next to nothing and a decade ahead of its time, it still made money and found a whole new wave of lifelong fans (including me) on cable TV.
This success gave Wayans the chance to make his own movie, an opportunity he seized with both hands. Wayans writes, directs, and stars in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and, in doing so, single-handedly revived the gloriously inappropriate and problematic genre that once made America great.
Sucka is an Airplane-style spoof of blaxploitation movies, a joke-a-second offering where Wayans — knowing this was probably his shot at a Big Career — goes completely for broke.
Like the genre he affectionately spoofs, Sucka’s plot is beautifully simple: After his younger brother dies of O.G. (“over gold,” the act of wearing so many gold chains you die), Jack Spade (Wayans) leaves his military career and comes home to Any Ghetto U.S.A. where he discovers O.G. is destroying the old neighborhood. And so Spade sets out to make things right and avenge his brother by targeting the local “chain lord,” Mr. Big (John Vernon), and does so with the help of some aging badasses — local legends who once kept the neighborhood safe before they went soft.
Those aging badasses are a number of legitimate blaxploitation legends: Bernie Casey, Jim Brown, Antonio Fargas, and Isaac Hayes (who is hilarious). Also on board are Clarence Williams III, Ja’net Dubois, and Steve James (as scene stealer Kung Fu Joe). A very young Chris Rock’s blazing talent is already on display as a rib joint customer; gone-too-soon comedian Robin Harris (Bebe’s Kids) plays a bartender, and the talented Wayans family pops up just about everywhere.
So what makes Sucka so gloriously inappropriate and problematic?
In the same way Mel Brooks satirized his own Jewish culture and Lear satirized the working class — and both did so by mixing love with criticism — Wayans satirizes urban black culture, which is something you just aren’t allowed to do today.
If Sucka were released today, Wayans would be blacklisted by the Woke Nazis as a sellout who “makes it safe for white racists to laugh at black stereotypes,” a criticism that defanged Chris Rock permanently and Dave Chappelle for at least a decade.
The fallacy of this criticism is the fact that nothing makes us more appealing than our ability to laugh at ourselves. Laughing at ourselves and each other is a shared act of healthy openness and humanity that brings us together.
No one understood this better than Norman Lear, a classical liberal who gave us Archie Bunker (white, working class bigot), Fred Sanford (black, working class bigot), George Jefferson (upper class, black bigot), and Maude Findlay (humorless, white, upper class feminist). Lear wanted us laughing at everyone, but not in a superior or snobbish way. Despite their massive flaws, each of these protagonists is sympathetic, relatable, and endearing — and somewhere in each of them is us.
In many way, because of these shared flaws, we were learning to like and accept each other, and this acceptance magically corrected some of those flaws.
It was humanism at its best, and this, I believe, is a big reason why the issue of race all but disappeared in America for 20 wonderful years, and why it would take demonic race hustlers like Al Sharpton, Johnnie Cochran, Barack Obama, and the fake media years to divide us again.
Good grief, I grew up in an era where the biggest movie star (Eddie Murphy), biggest pop singers (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston), biggest TV stars (Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby) biggest comedian (Richard Pryor), biggest sports stars (Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Bo Jackson, Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, etc.), and the biggest threat to Johnny Carson’s three decade-reign (Arsenio Hall) were all black. Colin Powell was the most admired and respected man in the country…. Believe me, I could go on.
Until the fascist race hustlers and PC Hitler Youth came along and declared it verboten and racist to point and laugh at our own flaws, America was a country aggressively moving towards Rev. King’s dream of a colorblind society.
And it was Keenan Ivory Wayans who carried this righteous torch into the ’90s, starting with I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and ending with his own masterpiece, the first four seasons of In Living Color, which is the greatest American skit show since the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live. (The Dave Chappelle Show runs a close second. Monty Python beats everyone forever.)
Here’s all the I’m Gonna Git You Sucka moments that make it so gloriously inappropriate and problematic…
- Satirizes the Idea Women Can Beat Up Men
If there’s one increasingly ridiculous woke trope, it’s the idea a 110-pound woman can beat up a 190 man. I don’t care what her martial arts skills are, she’s going to lose every time. Female blaxploitation stars like Pam Grier (Foxy Brown) and Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones) probably birthed this idea, and Sucka has a blast with it by having the lovely and dainty Ja’net Dubois kick all kinds of man ass. The mockery comes from stunt doubles who are not only (obviously) men, they’re white men with afros, mustaches, and *gasp* blackface make up.
Wayans is also laughing at just how bad too many stunt doubles were in the blaxploitation genre.
- Ghetto Olympics
A youth center tries to get young men off the street by sponsoring Olympic-style events where they compete to steal TVs and strip cars.
- Black Power Sellouts
The Great Clarence Williams III plays Kalinga, a middle-aged revolutionary with a black liberation storefront — a sad holdover from the black power ’60s. Spade goes there looking for help to defeat Mr. Big, but everyone’s sold out. Kalinga’s married his “ofay wench” (Eve Plumb aka Jan Brady — how great is that?) and has two white kids (who spout black power slogans and watch the Brady Bunch). Other than spreading the gospel of beans, Kalinga’s comfortable and therefore useless.
My favorite part, though, is that Kalinga is all alone in the movement because his fellow revolutionaries sold out by taking cushy jobs from the same government they once opposed.
SPADE: Damn it, man. I heard the people’s revolutionary army was once a thousand strong. What happened?
KALINGA: They got government jobs.
KALINGA: You know that government office building on 25th street?
KALINGA: We went down to take it over. But they were hiring that day. The brothers walked in with guns… and came out with jobs. The brothers weren’t mad anymore. Whitey is something else.
The brilliance of this scene cannot be overstated.
- Midgets Used for Laughs
Big laughs, but Wayans’ Jack Spade is the butt of the joke.
- Women-Beating Jokes
“My bitch better have my money / through rain, sleet or snow / My whore better have my money, / not half, not some, but all my cash / ‘Cause if she don’t, / I’m gonna put my foot in her ass.”
- Time-Of-The-Month Jokes
You don’t want to be around Cheryl Spade (Dawnn Jewel Lewis) when the Midol fails to work.
- Gratuitous Nudity
Man, I miss gratuitous boob shots.
- Miscellaneous Acts of Offense
Police shooting jokes. The black lead’s last name is “Spade.” Women are objectified. Jack Spade’s desire to be a masculine hero and protector is taken seriously. Chris Rock’s one-off at the rib joint is so painfully true you can see the In Living Color genius to come. Antonio Fargas in his outdated pimp outfit (complete with live goldfish in platform shoes) — you gotta see it.
- Woke Sins of Omission
Like the genre he obviously loves, Sucka has some serious things to say about what it means to be a man, standing up for yourself and your neighborhood, solving your own problems, the importance of family, and how a monster like Mr. Big can only succeed if you sell out your own people. Wayans isn’t blaming America or capitalism or the white man… He’s blaming individuals who made bad and selfish decisions, which is of course a universal and very moral theme — except to America’s woketards who spread their mysticism and tyranny by blaming systemic racism, toxic masculinity, self- sufficiency, and free enterprise.
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka is raw and sometimes clumsy. Not all the jokes hit, and even fewer will if you’re unfamiliar with the blaxploitation genre. But it’s got more laughs than Judd Apatow’s entire movie repertoire, and in this fascist age of the Humorless Woke Hitler Youth, it is an endangered piece of art we should all cherish, protect, embrace, and most importantly — share.