Malcolm Xerox

"Aw, people of Sherwood, you've been had! Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Run amuck! We didn't land on Sherwood Forest; Sherwood Forest landed on us!"

A form of Straw Character, this trope is specific to black characters.

These characters are often very far to the left of the political spectrum, and usually militant. These black radicals or activists are depicted as a bunch of hypocritical, irrational, paranoid, unreasonable, lazy, bigoted, race-card-playing, conspiratorial raving loons. Even within black TV shows and movies, they're very rarely depicted as respectable or intelligent people whose opinion is of any real merit. When it comes to black TV and films, this could be an attempt by some black writers to subvert the stereotype of black people agreeing with these particular views. In the process, they ended up creating a Straw Character. Needless to say these characters can easily veer into Unfortunate Implications territory. Some even see these characters as tactics to discredit the image of conscious black people in mainstream media.

The Trope Namer is Malcolm X, who achieved fame during the American civil rights movement for his aggressive and hard-line views on race; however, he was actually a subversion in that after going on his pilgrimage to Mecca he started to promote racial equality and unfortunately got killed for it by hard-line black nationalists.note 

Compare with Straw Feminist, Angry Black Man.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime And Manga  

  • Fisher Tiger from One Piece is a rare Japanese example. He raises a pirate crew of former fishman slaves and espouses their races superiority in response to humans (and specifically the Celestial Dragon's) discrimination against them. Eventually however, his biases against humans are softened due to having to take care of the human former slave girl Koala, that said he still cannot get past sharing blood with humans which results in his death.
    • More interesting is that the series has a Martin Luther King analogue to Fisher Tiger's Malcolm X in the form of Queen Otohime, who espoused equality and wanted both races to be able to live together. Again, like her historical counterpart, she ended up being assassinated as well.
  • Dian in Jewelpet (2009) was, in his backstory, a Jewelpet supremacist who wanted to free his kind from humans, thinking that they were taking advantage of their good will and superiority (being magical creatures). He led a rebellion, but it was suppressed and he was banished and sealed for hundreds of years. When he is unsealed again, he has Motive Decay and only wants revenge.

     Comic Books  

  • The character of Muhammad X from the Superman comics.
  • Aquaman's arch nemesis Black Manta, whose motivation was to conquer Atlantis so he could slaughter the inhabitants and make the kingdom a haven for black people who'd been so repressed on the land. Or so he says - he's shifted goals multiple times and has outright stated he's just pretending to do this in order to get funds and men. He really just wants money and to see Aquaman dead.
  • A 1960s Little Annie Fanny comic, satirizing the ideological conflict between MLK Jr.'s and Malcolm X's followers, ends with "Marvin X" and his followers donning surplus Nazi uniforms and "Marvin" shouting "We must build a superior race! Let the liquidations begin!" At this, the unnamed MLK Jr. stand-in, whom Marvin's ship had rescued from the ocean, swims off saying, "I think I'll take my chances with the sharks."
  • Strangely enough, Magneto is this, though he's white and Jewish and doesn't really care about black people (unless they also happen to be mutants). Loooong ago in The '60s he was a generically evil villain who wanted to destroy humans because he believes mutants are superior, but by The '70s he'd been retooled with a more well-rounded characterization: when his past is revealed, we find he was a Holocaust survivor and believed that the growing hatred for mutants by humans would eventually mean a repeat, leading to a couple decades of leading to him going too far with his methods of "protecting" and "ensuring the future" of mutantkind. He and Professor X are compared to Malcom X and Martin Luther King , with oppression against mutants as a parallel to oppression of minorities.
  • The Spike in X-Force is a stereotypical militant Angry Black Man who accuses everyone of race at every opportunity for purely careerist and publicity reasons.

     Films — Animated  

  • Snowball the bunny from The Secret Life of Pets is the animal equivalent of this, militantly devoted to overthrowing humans throughout most of the movie. Bonus points for being voiced by African American actor Kevin Hart.

     Films — Live-Action  

  • Willie Stevens from Hangin' with the Homeboys.
  • Sharif from Menace II Society, though he's not depicted badly so much as he is just disregarded by his troubled criminal friends. Although there's a lot of cynicism that can be picked up from the way the character is written, especially how other characters treat him (even his dad!).
  • Subverted in Chasing Amy by Hooper X, a comic book artist character who used this trope, playing a proud Nubian and Straw Character when promoting his comic book; but was in fact a flamboyant homosexual.
  • A straight example from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is the film director, though he is played by Chris Rock, who has spent his career lampooning these kinds of characters.
  • The Mau Mau gang from Spike Lee's Bamboozled. They fit the "hypocrisy" aspect of this character. The Mau Maus angrily denounce the Blackface entertainers with "Painted faces, disgrace to the races!" - but they are, in their own way, just as buffoonish as what they condemn. And they're even more hypocritical when they execute one of the show's performers while wearing some of the "Mantan" Halloween masks they so despise (which makes them Dirty Cowards as well).
  • Buggin' Out from Do the Right Thing. Many of the other characters are angry about race issues as well, which is kinda the point of the movie.
  • The Wayans brothers like the comedic version of this trope, with the addition that the more outspokenly Afrocentric the character is, the more obsessed he is with banging white chicks — most notably in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.
  • Mitch Mullany's The Breaks includes a scene reminiscent of I'm Gonna Git You Sucka when the main character, Derrick, attends a spoken word performance. After a dreadlocked black man recites an angry Afrocentric poem, the hostess says, "Thank you very much, Stokely Ungawa, and your lovely wife, Betsy..." at which point the camera cuts to the same poet, embracing a very WASPy looking blonde.
  • Martin Lawrence plays an especially obnoxious example of this trope in National Security.
  • Dave Chappelle playing "Conspiracy Brother" as a comedic subversion of this in Undercover Brother.
    • Chappelle did a riff on this trope nine years earlier, as Achoo in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. His speech is taken word-for-word from Malcolm X's line about Plymouth Rock "landing on" the Africans, not the other way around.
  • A blink-and-you'll-miss-him background character who shows up twice in Across the Universe. First during a war protest in New York City, mixed in amongst the crowds, and later can be seen in Paco's office, as another sign of Paco's increasing extremism.
  • The 1997 remake of 12 Angry Men recasts the bigoted Juror #10, a white man in the original version, as one. In this version, the defendant is a Hispanic boy, and the juror seems to be angry that the boy's "kind" is "outbreeding" his own people.
  • Zeus from Die Hard with a Vengeance definitely qualifies. In fact, Samuel L. Jackson researched the role to look and act exactly like Malcolm X himself.
  • Played straight and subverted with Marcus in Airheads, who accuses Rex and Milo of being racist, but has no clue who Rodney King is.
    • There's no indication he doesn't actually know who Rodney King is; his response when the "ROD-NEY KING!" chant starts is "What's that supposed to mean?", which does not indicate a lack of knowledge, more confusion over why they're chanting that name.
  • Jeriko One in Strange Days is a combination of Malcolm X and Tupac Shakur. Given the fact that he's murdered by racist cops, he might have a point.
  • The Enforcer has a black militant group based on both the Black Panthers and the the Symbionese Liberation Army.
  • The Afrocentrists in PCU.

     Literature  

  • Ras the Exhorter from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.
  • The X-Man from Minister Faust's superhero novel From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain. Played straight until the ending, when it's revealed pretty much all his paranoid delusions about The Man are true.
  • An interesting example from youth literature is Axon Befal from the Green-Sky Trilogy. The Erdlings are Ambiguously Brown, and the decendants of exiled Kindar (Kindar being the race with "privledges"). When this all is revealed and the Erdlings are freed from their imprisonment Beneath the Earth, Befal is preaching for violent retribution against the Kindar, including those ignorant of the Erdling's existence. Most Erdlings want nothing to do with him and consider him a criminal. In the game, his "wand" (a machete) makes the game Unwinnable if you use it on anything other than briar bushes.
  • The fictionalized Black Muslim street preacher Abdul Sufi Hamid from Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed fills this role.
  • The bespectacled character Fess from Kristin Hunter's The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou is an up-and-coming teenage militant in this mold. "You haven't seen the light, Little Sister. You need to be indoctrinated."
  • In For Want of a Nail, an 1972 Alternate History book, Philip Harrison fits this trope well. He's the founder of Black Justice, and he wants to wage war against the other races as well hoping to found a separate state for black people.
  • Sam McAndrews in the Nantucket Trilogy. He joins the renegade Walker in the hopes of finding and aiding the current "black" civilization. After arriving in Egypt, he is rather disillusioned, and plans to found a civilization of his own in present-day Sudan.

     Live Action TV  

  • A Different World: Terence Taylor, to a T. He grew up in Germany with his white mother, but as soon as he hit Hillman's all-black campus, he began dressing in long wool coats and bedazzled fez hats, frequently talking about his new-found faith, The Man, and how to uplift the black community. Played for comedy, the show being a sitcom and all. In the middle of one impassioned speech, Dwayne Wayne calls him a "Microwave Muslim."
  • Martin: The episode "The Snow Bunny" features one of these. When the gang takes a trip to a ski lodge, Pam brings along new boyfriend Tashim, who dresses like a Black Panther and throughout the episode makes snide comments about/towards Tommy's guest, a white woman.
    • This is played entirely for comedy, because Tashim's militance is absurd to the extreme. In one scene, as everyone is heading out to the slopes, Tashim carries a spray can. When asked why, he answers that he plains to paint as much of the snow black as he can. And at the episode's end, Tashim approaches the white woman, menacingly telling her, "I've got something to say to you", as if he's going to say something really rude and racist, while she snaps, "I've got something to say to you too", as if she's fed up with his rudeness. Sure enough. . .they leap into each others arms and start making out.
  • A decent number of black characters from Law & Order qualify. Basically, if there's a black prosecutor/lawyer/defendant/minister/activist/etc. opposing the lead cast, s/he is likely to hit at least some parts of this trope and Angry Black Man.
    • Specifically defense attorney Shambala Green. Although not as over the top.
    • Paul Robinette when he became a defense attorney. Alternatively there's the Unfortunate Implications theory that he was turned into a Straw Character of the Malcolm Xerox variety so the writers could make a point.
    • Defense attorney Carl Halpert, defense attorney Jerome Bryant... (notice a pattern here?)
    • Then there's Congressman Eaton, A terrible Al Sharpton Expy.
    • Perhaps most notorious is the Reverend Ott, who incites a riot in an episode based on the Crown Heights riots.
  • One episode of Angel had Gunn pose at this to create a distraction for Angel to break into Wolfram and Hart. Evil's only weakness: political correctness!
    "Y'all can cater to the demon, cater to the dead man! But WHAT! ABOUT! THE BLACK! MAAAAN?!"
  • Ahmad Zaire from The Parent 'Hood.
  • Rev. Darnell Potter, a fairly transparent copy of the Rev. Al Sharpton, in Blue Bloods. Not only is he a demagogue, an accessory to murder, a crook, a hatemonger and a liar, he's waging a motiveless war on the NYPD to boot. He even quotes Malcolm X once or twice.
  • Senator Clay Davis in The Wire manages to fool most of Maryland into thinking he is this guy, the best example being his Glurge Unleaded defense speech in court. In reality he's an embezzling, selfish, corrupt piece of sheeeeeeeeeeeit...
  • Awesomely nuanced in a New York Undercover episode "The Reckoning", with a Nation of Islam minister (Minister Malik) who shows heavy shades of this, BUT is also very fleshed out and humanized. Even giving him a sweet moment towards the end of the episode when a young black kid approaches him on the street and tells him "I'm ready to be a man" and Malik smiles and nods, then says "Then you will be".
  • Averted with Kareem Said in Oz. Played straight with "Supreme Allah" (real name Kevin Ketchum — he never legally changed it) in season 4.
  • Parodied with Chris Rock's character Nat X on Saturday Night Live. He's so black, he urinates oil! He's so black, that when he went to night school, the teacher marked him absent.
  • Michael Evans on Good Times. Nicknamed the "Militant Midget" by his family, he once declared that he preferred Cream of Wheat to oatmeal because "at least they got a black man on the box!"
  • One of the two villains in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Cuba Libre."
  • Parodied in Goodness Gracious Me with the character of "Malkit X", an Indian man who insists that everything around him is a calculated and deliberate insult to his race.
  • The Brotherhood in the Adam-12 episode, "The Militants" LOG 76.
  • In the "Lamont Goes African" episode of Sanford and Son, Lamont embraces his African heritage, starts wearing a dashiki and deems "Lamont" to be a slave name and gives himself the name "Kalunda".
  • On Everybody Hates Chris, one Christmas the father was low on money, and happens across a stall advertizing Kwanzaa as a non-commercial option for Christmas. Chris' brother really gets into this, and according to the voiceover he still celebrates it in his adulthood and refuses to talk to white people on the day, including his white wife.
  • Played with on Scandal. During the episode, The Lawn Chair, Olivia (having been hired by the police to handle the optics of a fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white cop) comes into conflict with Marcus Walker (a civil rights black neighborhood activist). She admonishes him for using the shooting as a boost to his political ambitions, but he throws it right back in her face by spewing allegations of her betraying the "community", pointing out her commitment to getting a white republican elected president twice and for her high class-status which distances her from the people in this community. The ultimate implication is that his accusation has more to do with class than race, since as a wealthy, successful black woman, she cannot entirely relate to the poor black community she's just walked into.

     Professional Wrestling  

  • Faarooq (nee Ron Simmons), during his time as leader of The Nation of Domination stable in the WWF. Well, without the lazy part, and with a whole lot more violent tendencies.
    • Clarence Mason, the Nation's attorney/manager, was a carbon copy of Malcom X with a dusting of Johnnie Cochran on top.
  • Theodore Long, specifically when he was running his "Thuggin N Buggin Enterprises" faction with clients like D'Lo Brown, Rodney Mack, Mark Henry, and Jazz. Though he toned it down once he became the fan-favorite Smack Down GM.
    • Ironically, Brown and Henry were former members of the Nation.

     Video Games  

  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there's a ped in the San Fierro section that fits this trope. He's even wearing a kente cloth dashiki and hat.

     Web Comics  

  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta has Braveshroom, who varies between this and a parody of William Wallace, depending on the situation, fighting for mushroom rights against human and koopa oppressors. He even gives a parody of the same speech parodied in the pagequote (Super Mario landed on us!).

     Western Animation  

  • Dewey from The Boondocks is a hypocritical counterpart to Huey Freeman, who takes "down wit' the struggle" much further than even Huey by reading poetry, wearing capris, headwraps and sandals, even going as far as to become a Muslim...and yet he doesn't even know the basic Islamic greeting.
    • Huey himself arguably could be seen as a subversion (or even a reconstruction) of this trope.
    • "Jabari Jabari Binko" in an early Boondocks strip can be a parody of this.
  • Chef during the town flag controversy (fittingly called 'Chef Goes Nanners') in South Park, right down to becoming Muslim and changing his "slave name" into a long, pseudo-Arabic one which no longer fit on his apron, so that he had to have someone follow him around, bearing a sign with the rest of his new name.
  • Sideshow Raheem from The Simpsons.


Alternative Title(s): Black Liberal Strawman

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MalcolmXerox