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Old 02-13-2017, 10:01 AM
Mean Mr. Mustard Mean Mr. Mustard is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 9,249
Possible anachronisms in the movie 'Fences'?

I saw 'Fences' and loved it. However, two things in the movie didn't feel right to me for a story set in the 1950s:

1 - The casual use of the word 'nigger' between African Americans. It is used fairly frequently in the movie, sometimes as a term of endearment, sometimes as a part of a scolding from father to son. I thought this was a modern day phenomenon; I can't imagine 1950s African Americans using the word in this manner, if at all. Maybe I'm wrong?

2 - This one is less jarring, but it rang untrue to me: The use of the phrase "that's what I'm talking about". Emphasis on the 'I'm'. Again, this feel like a current phrase; I don't believe I've ever heard the phrase used in this manner before, say, the 1990s.

I am interested in other opinions.

Old 02-14-2017, 02:55 AM
bienville bienville is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 5,973
I can't speak from an experience of being black in the 1950s, but the play was written in 1987. The 1950s were a more recent memory in 1987- a full generation more recent. If the dialog didn't ring true to audiences at the time, I'd think it would have gotten in the way of all the acclaim the play received.

Of course, that only addresses your point #1 since your point #2 is about the actors' choices in inflection rather than the author's choice in the written dialog. But your point #2 seems to bother you less and, again, I can't offer any insight from experience of living through the 50s. Maybe some very old Doper can come in and offer an opinion.

Last edited by bienville; 02-14-2017 at 02:56 AM.
Old 02-14-2017, 09:54 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,169
Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
1 - The casual use of the word 'nigger' between African Americans....I thought this was a modern day phenomenon; I can't imagine 1950s African Americans using the word in this manner, if at all.
I heard it in the early mid-70's.
Old 02-14-2017, 09:59 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,992
It was pretty common in the 60s for people of an ethnic group to refer to themselves by a pejorative -- but only if they were the member of that group. I knew of Polish people who's refer to themselves as "Polocks," for instance.
"If a person saying he was something was all there was to it, this country'd be full of rich men and good-looking women. Too bad it isn't that easy.... In short, when someone else says you're a writer, that's when you're a writer... not before."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.


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