Tags: crime/law/deviance, prejudice/discrimination, race/ethnicity, criminalizing blackness, racial profiling, racism, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: In this scene from the popular romantic comedy Bridesmaids (2011), Annie (Kristen Wiig) attempts to get the attention of State Patrol Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd). A budding romance has started between the two, but in this scene Rhodes is upset with Annie and ignores her attempts to communicate. In an effort to appeal to his obligations as a patrol officer, Annie proceeds to engage in various reckless driving activities, hoping that her reckless behavior behind the wheel will require Officer Rhodes to pull her over, thus giving her an opportunity to talk to him. Some of the reckless driving behaviors that Annie engages in include texting, talking on the phone, pretending to consume alcohol, speeding, doing donuts, driving topless, driving without looking where she's going, and throwing litter out the window, aimed at the uniformed officer. These various actual driving offenses are seamlessly placed alongside another activity that Annie performs in the hopes of being pulled over: sitting in a reclined position listening to loud rap music. Of course, this last activity is not a legal offense. Culturally, this behavior is predominantly associated with black male urban youth. This scene illustrates the deeply embedded association between blackness and criminality in American culture, an argument that Khalil Gibran Muhammad (2011) explores more thoroughly in his book The Condemnation of Blackness and Michelle Alexander (2010) in her book The New Jim Crow. Despite doing nothing illegal when she drives with her seat back listening to Ice Cube, this racially coded behavior is deemed illegal, suggested to be a legitimate infraction for which one can be pulled over. Such cultural messages reinforce and perpetuate the racial profiling practices described by the vernacular pun of getting pulled over for a “DWB” (Driving While Black). Viewers can be encouraged to think about other examples of how practices associated with blackness are criminalized in American society.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
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