Long before The Help arrived to heal the wounds of racism forever, there were of course many other films that paved the way toward bringing blacks and whites together in sassy harmony. Although, if pressed to name any of those, you probably wouldn’t point to the 1982 Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte buddy comedy 48 Hrs., and Nolte considers that an oversight: “The thing about 48 Hrs. that really isn’t thought about much is that’s the first film where the black and the white criticize each other,” Nolte said during a press conference for the forthcoming Warrior. “After Civil Rights, it was very awkward for whites and blacks. We didn’t know how to talk to each other.” Fortunately, 48 Hrs. came along to show us that we could all find common ground through cathartic, mutually expressed hatred, rampant racial slurs, and talking about our dicks.
While Nolte allowed that “[Richard] Pryor and [Gene] Wilder took it to an art form after we first did it”—as Nick Nolte apparently believes that See No Evil, Hear No Evil represents the pinnacle of the Pryor/Wilder movies, as opposed to those that came out long before 48 Hrs.—he maintains that he and Murphy were the first to make “anything in culture that showed white and black men just, you know, saying ‘What’s going on?’”
However, if Nolte had his way, they would have also been saying something else: “I wanted Eddie to call me ‘Banana Skin.’ He said, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never heard that, Nick.’ I said, ‘Well, whenever I wanted to hear good music [growing up], I’d go over to the black side of Omaha and they would always yell, ‘Hey, Banana Skin. What are you doing over here?’” Fortunately, thanks to 48 Hrs., we now live in a world where blacks calling whites “Banana Skin” can be seen as a term of begrudging, prickly endearment, exchanged between two races sharing a historic ride in the metaphorical Cadillac convertible that is America, as we worked together to wipe out our own Billy Bear (i.e. Native Americans).
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