Why is The Economist publishing a critique of an Eddie Murphy/Dan Ackroyd movie from 1983? Because although some people consider it a Christmas movie, it’s actually a New Year’s Eve movie. And a New Year’s Eve scene from the movie makes us tackle the challenge of troubling and offensive art of the past.

The author’s name is hidden behind a paywall (perhaps on purpose?) so we’ll just have to credit it to The Economist, which reports:

… there are lots of cringe-inducing moments: racial stereotyping, explicit and vicious racism that is presented as reprehensible but played for laughs, casual homophobia, a caricature Irishman and gratuitous nudity.

Most important are the two moments when, startlingly, Mr Murphy breaks the fourth wall, looking directly at the camera and through it at the audience.

In these frames Mr Murphy’s expression is defiant, infinitely unsurprised, accusatory, coldly furious: a wordless, powerful indictment of racism—including the viewer’s. These fleeting, jolting seconds seem to belong to another movie entirely.

From this editor’s memory, the gratuitous nudity was not cringe-inducing.

No kidding. Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood? Classic.

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