Saturday October 26, 2019

Snoop Dogg plays a DJ character in the new Netflix flick Dolemite Is My Name. A man named Rico enters the record store, (“yo, for real”), introduces himself as “A Repository of African-American Folklore.” He tells tall tales, plays the Signifying Monkey. From there the cameras lead us to the Dunbar Hotel. Junkies and wine. “Rhyming,” “down-and-dirty,” “rat-soup-eating.” Rudy Ray Moore invented a character both old and new. The Godfather of Rap. Put some swing on it. Formulated a critique and used it. Declared showtime, made an album. Called it “I ain’t lying: a comedy record.” A live recording. Storytelling veers from “write what one knows” to “welcome others to the Dolemite world of nightlife, streets, and clubs.” Behold: blaxploitation squared. The Dunbar Hotel remade as a movie set. Some of us absorb reality, a character says, while the rest of us act it and reflect it: a cine-magical Metafiction. Stereotypes, myths. Social fictions with consequences. Plus kung-fu armies, and funny as hell.