Night & Day Archives » Night & Day

Back in Black

The ultimate white flight

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Jeff Gerber is your typical 1970s white guy: He has a good job, a house, two kids, and a wife who watches the race riots on TV with horror and pity. If you asked Jeff, he'd tell you he's a happy-go-lucky joker not adverse to the occasional off-color joke. But if you asked anybody else, they'd tell you Jeff's the sort of casual bigot who forms the backbone of quiet racism in America — it's a realization Jeff himself experiences when he wakes up one day and unexpectedly finds himself a black man. Suddenly the neighbors want him out of the neighborhood, the police think his jogging means he's running from a crime scene, and his white secretary develops a torrid case of jungle fever. Watermelon Man, Melvin Peebles' still-effective satire on American race relations, stars under-appreciated comedian Godfrey Cambridge as Jeff, first in whiteface and then just as himself. The Webster Film Series screens Watermelon Man at 8 p.m. at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries), and it's the last Strange Brew film of the summer. Tickets are $4.
Wed., Aug. 6, 2008

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