[2001's] comedic hits were Zoolander, Not Another Teen Movie, and Legally Blonde—although categorically similar in being over-the-top, these comedies were a lot safer than Pootie Tang. It’s easy and trite to make fun of hot people and teens; it’s easy to complicate and build on these tropes because everyone knows them. But satirizing black pop culture for a mainstream white audience? Mixed results.
America wasn’t ready—but we are now. We (thankfully) live in the woke-or-bust era, when complicating identity politics rules supreme, and if you’re not down, you’re out. Pootie Tang, who has his own incomprehensible yet inherently cool language, would be an especially poignant hero in the context of internet virality and the proliferation of black vernacular into mainstream slang.
I love this film. Perhaps I was embarrassed to admit it all those years ago, but there was something about a film full of cultural tropes and absolutely silly punchlines that spoke to me. I grew up against—I use the word very lightly—a homogenous ethnic background and frankly, I stuck out. Seeing different faces in film was cool, but seeing those same faces have fun and enjoy themselves was all I could possibly have asked for as a teenager.
Now, I'm off to find a copy.