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Watermelon Eating Contest

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 27, 2015

Uh-oh. It appears that someone thinks this is funny. Where did this watermelon-&-black-folk stereotype come from, anyway? It’s embarrassing, and you hope and assume that many contemporary spectators thought so as well.

Mind you, there’s always something factual or actual beneath fictional contrivance, behind ideological constructs and lapses in taste and courtesy. This is actually really interesting: in the late 1890’s, it appears, people first sucked the juice out of the watermelon, and then just spit out the pulp when they were done.


It doesn’t seem like a problem when Curley Howard surrenders his dignity. Maybe it’s because Curley Howard has some say in the matter, and because he’s doing it on his own terms. This isn’t the same thing at all. These four fellows give their all; in another setting it might all be liberatingly anarchic. Here, it seems like it’s just humiliating for and by everyone.