Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I didn’t know what to expect when we watched Se7en based on how much the other cop movies had varied. Almost everyone of the other buddy cop films we have watched were comedic and had all the typical action film qualities. Se7en, instead, was much more gruesome and violent but it was my favorite film so far because those factors made it the most thrilling. I also liked how it was filmed making it seem very realistic. By doing this it added extra element of suspense and thrill.

Se7en did have key traits of a typical buddy cop film. The movie starts by having the two detectives meet and not liking each other at first. Both Detectives Somersett and Mills chose to get past this though for the sake of the case. Somersett is an older cop about to retire but wants to finish this last case before he leaves. Mills, on the other hand, is young and adventurous. This vast personality difference is seen in the chase between Mills and John Doe. Although Doe is shooting at both men, Mills takes after him on foot and engages in an intense shooting stint. Somersett follows after the two fighting men but is a lot more cautious and is far less injured because he is so careful.

Mills has just moved to the city shortly before receiving this case with his young beautiful wife that he’s madly in love with. With the help of Mills wife and intensity of the case, the men begin to realize how crucial each detective is in figuring out the case and begin to form a close bond. This tight bond is seen in the end of the film when Mills discovers his wife has been murdered by John Doe. Although Doe did commit this horrid crime Mills isn’t legally allowed to kill him. While Somerett does try to stop Mills from shooting Doe, he doesn’t make that great of an effort because he sympathizes for Mills even though the cop has gone against the book.


Se7en, starring Morgan Freeman(Somerset) and Brad Pitt(Mills), as two homicide detectives partnered to investigate a series of murders which represent the seven deadly sins. As they attempt to capture the killer before he completes his seven murders, the two characters, like many other “cop buddies” they disagree and don’t get along.  Somerset is a older and wise black man days away from retirement, while Mills is an inexperienced, younger white detective. Like almost all films of this genre, their different personalities clash instantly. The complete opposite personalities of these two detectives are similar to the Lethal weapon characters, with the exception of the humorous side to Riggs’ personality.  Mills in Se7en, is much more determined to solve crimes, and gets right to the point using violence rather than spontaneity. However, towards the end, the two men finally start working as a team, and even Somerset admits to agreeing with Mills for the first time.  Se7en also presented some different twists in the buddy cop genre.  For one, the ending didn’t leave anyone being triumphant. If anyone did, John doe, the villain, had clearly won after killing Mills’ wife and unborn child. This is something that usually doesn’t happen in buddy cop films, rarely are the good guys’ families killed.  More than often, the good cops find a way to protect all family and friends.  Instead with Se7en, the good cops were defeated.  Sure the villain was shot, but that left Mills being arrested, which I did not see coming at all. 


Se7en was definitely a different “buddy cop” film than some other the other films that we have previously watched, such as Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop. Whereas as these two films seemed to place more focus on the bonding between the cops while working a case, this movie seemed to be overtaken by the actual case itself and the relationship between the two cops, in my opinion, seemed to take a less important role. It was noticeable in the movie, but I think the grotesque nature of the crimes distracted from Detectives Summerset and Mills. But similar to Lethal Weapon, there was a tension in the beginning between the two detectives. According to King, he claims that the “hero” of the movies are usually the white cop. In this movie, though, I think a more positive light is on Summerset. King also claims that they tend to be “hard-bitten, alienated, and pissed off at just about everybody” while the other officer is more supportive and comforting, following the rules and laws. But the roles seemed to be switched – Summerset is very calm and collected, thinking decisions through and following the rules, whereas Mills is very loud, outspoken, constantly cursing and always seems frustrated. Although Mills is the one with the family life while Summerset is alone. Throughout the movie, they have differing opinions about the serial killer. At the bar, Mills claims, “I don’t agree with you. I can’t.” But later on when they finally are working real hard together and are close to capturing the killer, Summerset says, “For the first time ever, you and I are in total agreement.” This is also one of the films that King points out where there really is no happy ending for both cops. In Se7en, Mills finds out his wife has been killed by the serial killer they captured and ends up shooting the killer in anger, fulfilling the Wrath sin. And for Summerset, I think there really is no happy ending for him, even though he is retiring.

Se7en: Reverse Racism?

“Se7en” is a buddy cop movie that both honors and deviates from other films in the genre, such as “Lethal Weapon.” The film stars Morgan Freeman as Somerset, a wise, middle-aged detective one week from retirement, and Brad Pitt as Mills, a brash, impulsive young detective new to the area.

Like “Lethal Weapon,” the cops in this film are a wiser, older black man and a younger, less predictable white man. However, Martin Riggs’ seemingly crazy antics come from a humorous center, and are based around throwing opponents off with unexpected situations. Detective Mills is impulsive in a much more straightforward, violent and dangerous way. At the same time, Roger Murtaugh’s vain attempts to harness Riggs’ insanity are very different from the ways that Detective Somerset deals with his partner. Somerset is the senior officer and the commander of the two-person unit, and what he says generally goes. He is older and wiser, and in this case he is respected for it.

What this film does provide is a unique reverse of stereotypes from the days of slavery. In his book, Guerrero discusses the portrayal of black men in films like “Birth of a Nation” and “Mandingo” as being especially sexually potent, and given titles like “black buck” and “black brute.” (34) This presents the image of a hulking, sexually aggressive creature. Detective Somerset is the opposite of this image; he is the brains of his team, and he is articulate, methodical and dedicated. In truth, Detective Mills comes closer to being a “brute,” opting in one scene to chase the villain until he is too injured to continue. In the final scene of the movie, despite Somerset’s pleas, Mills is unable to contain his wrath (which happens to be the final sin) and punishes the killer for decapitating his wife. The stereotypes now fit, although more loosely then before, on the white man instead of the black.


Se7ven gave us a little bit more of a modern age look at the buddy cop genre. It was very easy to see how the issue of racism has evolved in the last thirty or so years since “In the Heat of the Night” was written. We were now able to see a black cop who had a very long career in law enforcement, yet we were not shown any issues of blatant racism toward him. This movie was also a very typical buddy cop movie as far as the requirements which we discussed in class: an awkward meeting, one not wanting to work with the other, bonding throughout the film and a moment at the end where Summerset tries to protect Mills from committing an enormous mistake. Their growth as cops and as friends throughout the movie paints a perfect picture as to what the buddy cop movie is trying to accomplish.
Throughout the movie I kept drawing comparisons between Summerset and Virgil from “In the Heat o the Night”, and this had nothing to do with race. I found it very interesting that they both had a job in front of them which they would be very good at but they did not want to take on the job, Summerset because he wants to retire and Virgil because of racist acts towards him, yet neither of them could walk away from the job. For both of them their “cop” duties and instincts overrode any sort of emotions that would prohibit them from doing their jobs.
I also found it very strange that we would see a “good guy” being arrested at the end. I think this is probably the first movie I have seen where a good cop ends up getting arrested. Usually in a situation like that we would have seen Summerset come up with a story of how the murderer had in some way tried to harm Mills, for example: the chief in Beverly Hills Cop protecting his men at the end, or something along those lines to get him off the hook rather than seeing him go down like that.


The "buddy cop" subgenre are actions films with plots involving two men of very different and conflicting personalities who are forced to work together to solve a crime while learning from each other in the process. In the case of the movie Se7en a film about two homocide detectives the two heroes are of different ethnicities; black cop—

Detective Somoersey (Morgan Freeman) and white cop—Detective Mills (Bradd Pitt). These two homocide detectives are paired to work together on a case looking to find a serial killer who justifies his crimes as enlighening the world to the Seven Deadly Sins. It is safe to say that based on todays in class discussion on the key elements to a buddy cop film Se7en meets all requirements:
*Look at the family life of the cop
*1st meeting with partner
*Trigger scene: a case or event that brings them together
*Disagreement about following the rules
*Talking asking for respect
*Weather parallels feelings
*Music coincides actions
*Boss chews out cops
*Love interest gets killed

Within the first 20 minutes of the movie we are introduced to Detective Somerset getting dressed to go to work. He is methodically in his every action foreshadiowing to the viewer that he has had many years of experience on the job verses Detective Mills who wakes up throws on a wrinkled shirt and tie, brushes his hair with his hand and is out the door. Once again this shows a perfect buddy cop element on the directors part because he is constantly paralelling both cops lives and how they go about their work (this is also seen when Detective Somerset is doing research in the library on the case vs. Detective Mills who is doing research at his house and getting no answers). The cops learn from eachother, Mills learns more from Somerset on how to break down a case while Somerset learns about the need for love from friends and family, growing to respect his young replacement. The attiudes of the two cops is similar to the personality of Riggs and Murtaugh. Once again the black cop is the calmer of the two while the white cop is impatient, daring, also looking for the action, and willing to break the rules (this is seen when they are arguing about whether or not they should enter into the possibel killers house—in the end Mills character breaks the rules as usual and enters the house)

The first scene of bonding in this buddy cop movie is when Detective Somerset goes home for dinner with Mills. He is introduced to family life, seeing another side of Mills. Paltrows character jokingly states Willian meet David, showing that she is aware of the strained parternership that they have. Unlike Lethal Weapon the familial roles of the cops have been switched. Somerset is an unmarried man, no family in the area, feels that most people find him disagreeable; while Mills has a wife that loves him, a dog, and a house (that is to close to the train station causing the house to shake) showing that he does not have the perfect family. The most important scene where the cops bonded was at the dinner table, this is where the movie takes a switch because the men start working together bouncing off ideas from eachother. Unfortunately, they become ensnared in the villains diabolical plan.

More Cop, Less Buddy

Se7en was a very morbid buddy cop movie. It did have some very common elements of the genre. It had two very different cops working together on a team, it had a potentially dramatic situation for the cops to work together, and it had the action that Buddy cop movies require. However in this Movie, it was much like a horror movie filled with suspense and shock. I had never seen this move before and the ending was quite a shocker to me. Morgan Freeman normally plays a very calm and wise character, and Detective Somerset was no different. However what was very different about Somerset was how shaken he got at the very end. When he saw what was in the package, he instantly became very shaken and seemed to just give up. He threw down his gun and admitted that John Doe had the clear advantage and that he had clearly won. He tried to not let Detective Mills do anything too rash but even he himself was so shaken that he really couldn’t give Mills a good reason not to kill Doe. The knowledge that Somerset had that Tracy was pregnant caused him to empathize with what Mills would feel to such a degree, that he really could not blame Mills for killing Doe.

Mills and Somerset had a pretty rocky beginning with each other. But like all buddy cop Movies they eventually get along and work together. Somerset was the calm cool and collected cop, while Mills was a very brash and rattled man. Somerset is very well read, as he visits the Library often, while Mills is forced to read the cliff notes of the classic books, because he is too lazy to read. The biblical references add a very serious tone to the movie, which takes away from its buddy Cop Image. The word “buddy” implies a sort of comedic element to the genre and mostly shows up in movies such as Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon, and even Kindergarten Cop. Movies like Se7en are really more like Police Thrillers than Buddy Cop movies.


The first scene where I noticed a difference between this film and the others is when Somerton and Mills were first together, outside of the building and then in the car. Instead of the white cop doubting and questioning the black cop’s ability, it was the other way around. Somerton was questioning Mills’s ability because he was new and Somerton felt that he wasn’t experienced enough to be working on such a difficult case. The white cop, Mills was trying to prove to the black cop that he was his equal, not a situation we typically see.

The other difference between this film and Lethal Weapon is the cops’ home life. Rather than the black cop having a family and nice home, Somerton lives alone in an apartment where traffic and outside noise is constantly heard. Mills, on the other hand, lives with his beautiful wife and has a child on the way (even though he doesn’t know it). I think Walker didn’t give Somerton a family so that the fact that he is supposed to be retiring is more effective. If he was given a family, then he could retire more easily retire because he has something else in his life, whereas without a family he has nothing but his job.

As far as Somerton and Mills go as a duo, they are stereotypical in that they act oppositely in most situations. Somerton is patient and logical; Mills is hot-tempered, eager and anxious. They work differently, but this benefits them. For example, when contemplating the case separately, Somerton goes to the library to research the seven deadly sins, while Mills focuses on the case itself and the victims. They don’t necessarily argue, but they seem to know that they work in different ways and disagree on certain things.

The ending of Se7en was also different because there was no big fight scene with the enemy. There was a chase and shooting scene, but it was not at the end. You usually don’t have one of the good guys getting arrested for murder in the end either.


Se7en introduced us to a more updated type of “buddy cop” film. There were no hints of racism or any class issues. The film was begun by showing the contrast of the level of experience that Mills and Somerset had. Somerset was the black veteran cop who had definitely been affected by the daily grind, which his line of work pushed upon him. Detective Somerset appeared wise, calm, and had little patience for his young new partner, Mills. Brad Pitt played Detective Mills, a young cop that had worked his way through the “bull shit” so he could finally reach his wanted status of homicide detective.

Lethal weapon immediately came to my mind when I thought of both Somerset and Mills. The connection I made was the fact that no matter who both of these cops were, they lived for the job. However, Morgan Freeman acted as if leaving the force was the best thing for him, when in reality he was very much alone and the job was all he had. Brad Pitt on the other hand, was young and his passion for the job was clear with his much planned transfer to the homicide squad. Although these characters are not as intense as Martin Riggs they are all connected to each other in the sense that they live for the job.

I also linked “In the Heat of the Night” to Se7en specifically to the scene in which the chief of police told Virgil that he was obligated to the job not just for the sake of solving the crime but because he had something to prove. Somerset’s Captain said, “I don’t think that you can deny that.” The chief is referring to the case that Somerset says he does not want to partake in. Twenty five years later and the manner in which certain roles are played out remain the same.

Movies of the present day use music and editing effects to they’re advantage. The opening credits features a disturbing montage of dark imagery coupled with the use of the musical talents of NIN (nine inch nails) sets the mood for audience. The cinematography throughout almost the entire movie was full of darkness. There was a major lack of light until the last scene in which Mills discovers the horrific news. This aspect added much to the mystery of this horror flick.


I want to start by saying I have never seen "Se7en" and I thought it was a fantastic film. Although, I have to admit, I was definitely looking behind me as I was walking back to my apartment after class...just in case.

I wanted to focus on race in comparison to the other films we have watched thus far. Out of all the films, I think "Se7en" deals the least with race. Race does not even seem to play a part, however, age does play a role. Morgan Freeman plays Somerset, the older, wiser cop which is a stark contrast to Brad Pitt's young character, Mills. While Mills had a great deal of experience at his prior job, the cops at his new job treat him like a rookie. Somerset, however, is treated with a great deal of respect and admiration and his boss even tries to convince him not to leave.

What I found most interesting about the two cops was how their roles seemed to reverse as the film progressed. Somerset started out as the clear leader and Mills, though he had his own case, was still looking to Somerset for advice, placing him in more of a sidekick role. While Somerset was wise and stoic throughout the entire movie, he became more of the sidekick even asking Mills to allow him to stay on the case of the 7 deadly sins until it reached a conclusion. By the end of the movie, Mills has become the central focus . I also found it very interesting that in the opening credits, Brad Pitt was the first name listed, not Morgan Freeman. This indicates Pitt is the primary character in this film, but he is not the primary character from the very start.

The relationship between Somerset and Mills became very much a buddy cop relationship as the film progressed. They had the initial dislike, they had their bonding moments, they even had a few homosexual references that King would run wild with (when they are in the restaurant and Mills does not want to sit next to Somerset for fear of looking gay). What I did not understand about their relationship was why Somerset respected Mills so much. Yes, Mills was an intelligent cop to an extent, but his intelligence did not get close to Somerset's. Mills is spontaneous and does not think through his actions. He is an impatient, not well-read, foul-mouthed man. All conclusions made in the 7 deadly sins case were made by Somerset, not Mills. Why would Somerset have any reason to respect Mills as a cop?


The movie Se7en was a typical “buddy” film. We are introduced to two cops. The black cop in the movie is detective Somerset. He has been a detective for many years and plays the wise older police officer who is ready to retire from the tumultuous work of a cop. He is lonely and has no family. The only thing to keep him company is his work of solving brutal homicides. Somerset is teamed up with a new officer, detective Mills. Mills who is a young hotshot who thinks he knows all about solving crime. He also has a pregnant wife who he ends up losing because of his dangerous line of work. Mills is the cop who does not always follow the rules because he has little control of his emotions. These moments lead him to near death experiences. These feelings are also why Mills shot Joe Doe when he finds out that he killed his wife.

Unlike the other movies I did not think that this film focused on race. The reason that the two men do not get a long instantly had more to do with their difference in age and experience rather than being black and white. The two cops do learn from each other similar to the way the cops did in Beverly Hills Cop and In the Heat of the Night. Mills gains experience from Somerset in how to be a better cop. Somerset learns from Mills and his wife who brings the two men closer. Somerset cannot understand why people in the world are becoming more violent. Mills shows him that there is more to think about, like the people who care for you.

The nature of this film is much heavier then what we have seen so far. There is little humor; the men are too worried about catching psycho serial killer. This more serious movie still brought two very different men together letting them bond over the traumatic experience.


This film was insane!
To start off with the music, the beginning credits had a distinct rhythm to it. The sound was very dungeon-like and had a slight sizzle noise. As the credits went on, the music got louder and faster, accompanied by a hard bumping. This gave me a very anxious feeling but was excited to see what the movie will consist of. I right away got the feeling it was a crime/murder/ cop movie because of the pictures presented through the credits, as well as the music.

I like how the film incooperated the 7 deadly signs along with the 7 cardinal rules and the concept of 7 days. The movie had many themes focusing mainly on the 7 deadly sins. The way the movie was portrayed for each sin was pretty complex, but always had an edge to it. I found myself questioning the murders on how it relates to the sin itself, but at the end of the movie when the murderer was in the back of Mills and Somersets car it all came clear.

When the murderer confessed his reasoning behind why he did what he did, I was amazed the thought behind such a horrific task. Each murder was to represent each sin BECAUSE of the individuals lifestyle. He wanted to murder certain individuals because they fit the sin's profile to a tee. He even said that he will "turn each sin against the sinner", and so he did.

I love how at the end he made the good guy (Mills) be part of his game and end up being a sinner. The final twist that the movie was exceptional.

We see a deadly sin on every street corner, and we tolerate it

Even though I’ve seen Se7en at least a dozen times, there is always something new in the movie that I catch each time. I’ve never really paid much attention to the fact that it does indeed fall into the biracial cop pair up category though. One of my favorite things about the movie is the pairing up of Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. Early in Brad’s career, it shows him as a somewhat talented actor next to Morgan Freeman who is one of the most talented African American actors in American culture.

Some of what we talked about today in class in the way of what we come to expect in movies can be seen in this 1995 dark film about how society lives a life full of greed, lust, wrath, pride, envy, sloth and gluttony, otherwise known as the seven deadly sins. As we discussed in class, there are several elements of any buddy cop film, which we have come to expect over the years. One of our expectations was a “trigger” scene that brings the two together. This scene is the first scene after the credits role where the two characters first meet and are supposed to be working together. This changes after their boss reassigns Brad Pitt’s character is reassigned to a murder of a prominent local attorney. The change is temporary since Morgan Freeman’s character is at least minimally informed of his classics of Dante’s Purgatory, and both characters find a sin written on the scene of the crime. Another expectation was that the cops would clash or not work well together, which takes place for the first 30-45 minutes of the film. Freeman’s character is patient although he doesn’t like Pitt’s character’s work habit or attitude, and vice versa. Pitt’s character thinks that Morgan’s character is too slow paced and reads too much into things, at first at least, until he catches on to the case. Their bonding moment was in the car on the way to bust a suspect and they are discussing taking bullets, pulling their guns and people they have worked with who have been gunned down. One aspect of movies we did not mention, but I remembered only after watching this again, was that annoying staircase that appears to go up what seems to be ten floors and all the SWAT team run up all ten flights of stairs as if it was nothing. This is mainly a cinematography aspect as you see the camera look either up or down the many flights of stairs that doesn’t appear in every cop movie, but it is a common camera angle.

The first time I saw this movie, I remember being rather grossed out by the corpses and the way they’re displayed, maybe cause I was 14 at a friend’s house. I got kind of used to it, in a jaded sort of way.


In David Fincher’s “Se7en”, Morgan Freeman (Det. Somerset) and Brad Pitt (Det. Mills play two detectives who are tracking a cereal killer. The killer has a unique way of killing people, by having them die from one of the seven deadly sins. One of the victims is feed till he dies, fulfilling the sin of gluttony. This is one of the quintessential buddy cop movies. No only do their personalities clash because, traditionally, one is analytical and the other rash with his judgments. Somerset asks for him to be reassigned, because he believes that it is too soon for Mills to be on the case. The initial conflict between the two perpetuates when Mills is assigned to the case, while Somerset looks forward to retiring in six days, and does not want to be pressured with the possibility of having to solve seven, linked murders. Also, Mills is the one with the successful job and a wife, and two dogs. Somerset is not married, and lives alone. The two are able to bond together over the dinner they have when William and David have dinner at David’s house with David’s wife there.

This film is full or religious imagery, not detracting from the buddy film aspect, but making it a darker, and more morbid movie. The victims are killed for their sins, implying that Doe is giving judgment to the sinners. Additionally, there is much more allusion to religious themes.

“The power lines in front of the GLUTTONY murder's apartment.
With the exception of the desert scene at the end, it is always raining, as in the Third Circle of Hell.
Near the discovery of LUST a heavy wind is blowing as in the Second Circle of Hell, where the overly lustful were constantly blown about by a heavy wind.
The GLUTTONY victim was forced to lie face down in food while he ate continuously, as in the Third Circle of Hell where those guilty of Gluttony are forced to lie face down in mud, in continuous cold rain while eating their own excrement.
SLOTH was lying in a wet bed, probably with urine or excrement, but in the Fifth Circle of Hell the Slothful are forced to lie constantly underneath the surface of the Styx while the Wrathful fight each other constantly on the surface.”

All of these images contribute to the psychotic nature of John Doe, who even quotes John Milton in his planning of the seven murders. The use of these allusions heightens the drama of the film. It is essential to include all of the religious meanings, since all of the actions in it are religiously motivated. The lighting, as well as the religious undertones, creates a thrilling, graphic murder mystery that follows the course of two detectives who are brought together to find a fanatical serial killer.

In the Heat of the Night

For me personally, the arrest of Tibbs at the start of In The Heat of the Night made me groan. Not another story of blatant southern racism…However, I was surprised how much the film turned around and made me sit on the edge of the seat, gripped by the enfolding murder mystery. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like this movie!

Many themes that we are discussing in class were apparent in this film, such as the representation of how race and prejudice has kept people from going forward and working for the betterment of the nation. One theme that slowly evolved was the relationship between Tibbs and Chief Gillespie. It seemed that the Chief and Tibbs grew to be buddies and certainly the heartfelt goodbyes that were exchanged toward the end were a signal of a change in opinion of racism and first impressions. Like Beverly Hills Cop, we have a black cop/character teaching the white man how to be more intelligent and calculating in their investigations. I much prefer how Virgil does his investigations to the silliness of Axel Foley but that’s beside the point J

I tried to approach the movie with the mindset that all things done in movies is purposeful and not by accident so finding little things to look for made this movie a little easier to watch than the other two. The romanticized sexuality of the Dolores at the start of the film seemed trivial and crude, just to satisfy the male audience or whatnot; however you find out how pivotal her role is toward the end of the film. This used of a woman’s sexuality is almost as important as continuous swearing in these cop films….
I found it interesting that not all characters commented on Mr. Tibbs’ dress. He was obviously at a higher economic level than his counterpart Chief and is alluded to that he has money but the only character that I remember commented specifically about his dress was Harvey in the jail cell. The matter of race for him seems to vanish because of their current situation, they are both in jail together and he sees his as a more of a equal because of it.

The scene that I felt was the most awkward but simultaneously made me happy was the representation of the cotton fields at Endicott Cottons Co. It remind the audience of how things still are but Tibbs’ drive through it symbolizes a change, suggesting that one step at a time and you can be free of what you are almost destined to do. Even Gillespie comments of this realization: “None of that for you, huh, Virgil?”
It was refreshing to watch this movie and see how the change for black actors was beginning to take place….

In the Heat of the Night

I think that it’s really interesting to look at a film like In the Heat of the Night in the terms of this class, especially since racism is such a prevalent issue throughout the film.
There are various references to slavery in the mise-en-scene of this film . I think that the most powerful are those in reference to Endicott and Endicott’s power within Sparta. His house looks very much like the large mansions from the plantation films that Gerrero mentions. Additionally, the mansion is surrounded by cotton fields being worked by African American “employees.” As the camera pans across these fields there a soulful, spiritual playing in the background. We also hear from Endicott how he sees African Americans as being unable to care for themselves, needing “feeding and nurturing” from him. Finally, throughout the film, Detective Tibbs is hassled by southerners bearing thick chains, which may be representative of the bondage of slavery. I find all of this very interesting to look at within the context of the film because it seems to suggest that while this film is about race, it’s making a statement about how the chains of slavery were still very much in power when the film was set/made, 1967.
The film shows how even a successful, intelligent, well-mannered, and accomplished black man was still regarded as a slave in the south in the 60’s. The chief repeatedly calls Det. Tibbs “boy” and Tibbs even refers to himself as Sparta’s new “whipping boy” when he talks to the mechanic he stays with while in town. However, it seems to me that this message would debunk Gerrero’s argument that Sidney Poitier’s characters show a one-dimensional view of African American life and culture.
Furthermore, I’d like to argue against Gerrero’s argument for the desexualization of Sidney Poitier’s characters. I don’t think in In the Heat of the Night desexualizes Tibbs based on the fact that he is a black man. Let’s think about the female characters in the film: the crazy girl who wanders around naked, the woman grieving for her recently murdered husband, and the woman who’s going to give the girl the abortion. I don’t know about you, but these don’t seem like particularly appealing women to have any sort of romantic interest in. The only one I see as having the slightest chance is the Mrs. Leslie Colbert, and I just get the feeling that Tibbs has his head on straight enough to not go after a woman in mourning. These aren’t the only women offered up as a love interest for just Tibbs, these are the only possible love interests in the whole movie. And while the girl does seems to get around, let’s be honest, that still doesn’t make her particularly appealing. Also, Tibbs doesn’t have a wife or a family life, but neither does he chief. Tibbs also references how he was once close to marriage, but it didn’t work out (which goes back to King’s theory of cops’ inability to connect with those around them, this is also seen throughout the film).

I really enjoyed watching In the Heat of the Night, I hadn’t seen it in a really long time. However, I don’t agree with Gerrero’s generalizations about Poitier characters, at lease not in the context of this film.