Monday, January 07, 2008

In The Heat of The Night

Through out the entirety of In the Heat of the Night, racism is shown towards Virgil Tibbs in a small town both from fellow police officers as well as the towns people. This blatant showing of racism is very different from both Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop. While the racism in Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop was shown, it was not shown to the extreme as it was shown through out In the Heat of the Night. I’ve seen movies before that have shown racism, I don’t think I’ve seen one that is as blatantly racist as In the Heat of the Night. What made it worse was the fact that some of the characters did not stick to one side of being racist or not. Take Sam for instance, in the first scene where Sam meets Virgil, he calls him “boy”, a term used for white men to call their black slaves, but then later Sam realizes that Virgil has been right about the runaway suspect not being the murderer of Colbert, he seems to begin thinking that perhaps Virgil is onto something and maybe Virgil should be trusted. Also, I found it interesting that traditionally, white women were terrified of the possibility of getting raped by black men, but Colbert’s wife actually supports Virgil saying “I don’t want that Negro police taken off this case”.

On the flip side, Virgil’s attitude towards those around him is drastically different. Being a man from the north, where skin color is not as big of an issue as it is in Sparta, Mississippi, Virgil is rather calm and unsurprised about the reaction of others to him. The only time that Virgil seems surprised about the racism towards him is when the white men in cars are chasing after him, corner him in the warehouse, and then again right before he proves that Delores Purdy is on her way to get an abortion of the child of Ralph Henshaw. Virgil remains calm towards police chief Bill Gillespie and Officer Sam Wood despite both of them treating Virgil poorly.


Blogger Sweet Sweetback (DIrvin) said...

Tibbs is very patient with the white officers and citizens. Perhaps that is what Guerrero is talking about when he and the other black writers complain about Poitier's roles in movies. It seems that because he is so patient and works along side whites for the good of whites, he is condemned by these back writers. Tibbs is working for justice as well as for a factory that would give a lot of jobs to African Americans. Tibbs seems like a positive role model and Guerrero seems hard to please.

11:23 PM  

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