To the excitement of Seth Rogen fans, his toilet-humored animated film Sausage Party hit theaters this August. To the dismay of anyone with a social conscience, the movie has a slew of racially charged gags.
I am a Native American, and as I watched the movie, I grew increasingly uneasy about the scenes between ‘Frank’ (Seth Rogen) and an Indian Chief (Bill Hader) that is a bottle of alcohol labeled ‘Firewater.” I was also dismayed by the Indian’s compatriots, an African American who is a box of grits and a white man who is a Twinkie.
The film, directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, and written by Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, is also filled with sexual references involving numerous phallic-shaped foods. The movie has a few funny moments reminiscent of sixth grade recess, but the attacks on all races came with no real attempt at social commentary.
Food products in the Chinese food section had slanted eyes and spoke in broken English, German food products were led by a Hitler-looking product screaming “Kill the Juice!” and the relationship between a bagel (Edward Norton) and a lavash (David Krumholtz) poked a sharp stick at the conflicts between Jews and Palestinians.
Sausage Party - Sony Pictures
A bottle of tequila with a slurred Mexican accent (also played by Bill Hader) lures Brenda the bun to a saloon filled with red-eyed mexican jars of salsa and hot sauce, until she is rescued by a taco shell (insert more female anatomy jokes here) played by Selma Hayek.
The movie did have a few funny moments (a potato screams when he is peeled and thrown into water realizing the human gods are not so nice after all), but I could not shake the blatant racism. I was shocked and offended.
I felt uncomfortable and tried desperately to find the social commentary based on an Indian smoking weed in a kazoo. After 89 minutes, I couldn’t find any redeeming thread except that perhaps a jewish character was played by a jewish actor and the African American character was played by an African American actor.
In Sausage Party, Firewater the Indian smokes marijuana from a kazoo. Sony Pictures
Ok, so perhaps we can laugh at ourselves, but I found this particular premise a bit of a stretch.
The writers of the movie labored feverishly on the fact that ‘Frank’ was a sausage and his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig) was a hot dog bun. They were going to tell every single solitary joke about a weiner and a bun they could fit into 89 minutes of film time.
Sausage Party - Sony Pictures
Overall I was shocked and offended. The two women behind me appeared dumbfounded.
Yet again, I left a movie theater thinking, ‘Welp, Native people got screwed once again and we look like a big joke.”
Admittedly, the joke's on all of us: Sausage Party had a production budget of approximately $19 million and has grossed $81 million so far.
Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling