charcoal ??


Whats up with calling the only black person on the boat "Charcoal". I thought that was extremely odd. Has anyone ever heard of anything on this?

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[deleted]

Charcoal was his nickname, based on his appearance--like Beaver's blond neighbor being called Whitey or the little red haired boy in O Henry's story being called Red Chief. Nicknames based on physicality, especially skin color, have fallen out of acceptability today, but it wasn't considered as egregious back then.

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You are wrong! Joe was his nickname. George was his name -- JOE WAS HIS NICKNAME! CHARCOAL was only used once, which was only to describe his race!

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You have it all wrong.

Joe was his name. George was a generic nickname for black people, at that time (look it up). And Charcoal was his nickname, and it is used two times in the movie.

- Uh, George?
- Call me Joe.
- Is your name Joe?
- Yes, sir.
- Very well. Joe it is.

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"George" was a generic name for Pullman Porters*. I don't know if that's true of blacks in general.

*Who were nearly all, if not all, black.

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Absurd pseudo "politically correct" b.s., as usual.

While you were being all upset about the character's nickname, did you happen to notice that John Steinbeck, one of the most politically progressive and impassioned writers of his or any other era, created the character of Charcoal as warm, funny, kind, noble, strong, unselfish, and well-liked by the other passengers? Not to mention that he was played with dignity and grace by one of the finer actors of his day.

Wow, how racist.

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[deleted]

Could it be said better?! Thanks Mitchell!

I do not like people who pick on racism or narcissisms from a film without any skill just so that they can appear smart. This was a lame thread.

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From the Trivia page: "Screenwriter John Steinbeck, a noted liberal, was outraged by what he regarded as director Alfred Hitchcock's racism as manifested in his condescension towards the George 'Joe' Spencer character played by Canada Lee." Also, "Canada Lee was allowed to write his own lines." That might be the most interesting thing about the movie along with TBankhead not wearing underwear.

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It was 1944. All parties involved have long passed on.

Do you want to have all copies of Lifeboat destroyed, because of offensive (yet historical) references?

Do you only allow yourself to watch movies of the year you are currently living in?

I don't think the KKK was standing in the studio making sure actor Canada Lee didn't get out of line when he was referred to as charcoal either.

But to respond to what you did ask, yes, I have heard of black people being nicknamed based on their skin color, in the 1980s, a young man was voted a beau in school and his nickname was Shine, because he was so black.

Are you offended by cowboys being called 'paleface' in the old westerns?

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how about in "scrubs", where dorian always calls turk "brown bear"?

and yes, i'm horribly offended by the use of the word "paleface", and if i ever see an indian in real life, i'll be sure and tell him...

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ned38: "how about in "scrubs", where dorian always calls turk "brown bear"?

and yes, i'm horribly offended by the use of the word "paleface", and if i ever see an indian in real life, i'll be sure and tell him..."
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I would sooner have my name legally changed to "Paleface" before I would ever watch one single solitary episode of Scrubs.

And if you ever confront a continental native about the usage of the term 'paleface' to describe a caucasian, I hope they give you directions to Hollywood, because the movies is probably where such a title originated.

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hey, the first two season's of "scrubs" were good. sure, it sucks now, but...

if i was an indian, i'd totally call every white person i saw "paleface"

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"I would sooner have my name legally changed to "Paleface" before I would ever watch one single solitary episode of Scrubs."

i LOLed.
also, i think "charcoal" was probably my favorite character. i love how he wanted to just "stay out of" the whole fight about what to do with willy. smart man.

"Oh my God, what a horrible photograph. My first wanted poster and I look just awful."

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neely_o_hara: ""charcoal" was probably my favorite character. i love how he wanted to just "stay out of" the whole fight about what to do with willy. smart man."
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Well, it took my older brother to explain to me that it was near impossible for this man to 'take sides' with what he had to contend with in his history.

As well as at the end, when they learned he had a family and were surprised, because they hadn't regarded him as a person up til then.

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What I thought was strange was the seemingly defensive responses of certain people to the inquiry of how odd it was that the man was called Charcoal?! If one just reads what the initial comment said ("Whats up with calling the only black person on the boat "Charcoal". I thought that was extremely odd. Has anyone ever heard of anything on this?") it seems rather strange to me the rather angry responses!Lots of assumed inferences!

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What is even more amusing is the movie actually dealt with name changes with Bendix having changed his name from Schmitt to the Americanized Smith, but that isn't ever debated, is it?

You can only imagine if the internet and IMDB had been around in '44, there would be endless threads fiercely debating if he was correct in changing his name or not, was the movie trying to say it was wrong he changed from the German sound, was the movie trying to say everyone should change from German to an Americanized style (such as we did here in the states when the French outraged us and we began calling our French fries as Freedom fries? Tho truth be told, I never heard ANYONE call them freedom fries, except on the news.)

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I totally agree. It's interesting: The film's main characters are supposedly enlightned, liberal-minded Americans who even insist that George be allowed to vote when the group discusses what to do with the Nazi skipper. Okay, so far so good....but then they call George "Charcoal" throughout the rest of the picture. I think the reason for this is that while America was certainly a far more enlightened country than Nazi-Germany, with decent people who genuinely believed that African-Americans be permitted to express themselves equally, the name-calling, which we in the 21st Century rightfully perceive as racist, had not yet been addressed as a harmful issue. In other words, the U.S.A. was definitely taking a righteous path towards racial equality at the time this film was made, but was still in its infancy stage.

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[deleted]

People back then had thicker skin also. But calling a black guy "Charcoal" back then was no more offensive than calling a thin guy named Mike, "Skinny Mike". Or No Nose, or No Neck, or Johnny Eyeballs. Italians were hit with these names like Guinea Joe or Dego Frank. And no one was offended. Only namby pamby PC idiots today are offended by it which makes me laugh. If the person who has this name doesn't care, why should you?

When you steal from Peter and give to Paul, you will always have the support of Paul.

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Get to steppin' with that crap, man. I don't remember Joe calling himself Charcoal or George. The others on the boat just assumed it was OK to call him out his name because he was a Black man in Jim Crow America. Everyone called Ritt Mr. Rittenhouse until he insisted they use his nickname but Joe was never given that consideration. Just because Guinea Joe and *beep* Frank had no problems with their nicknames doesn't mean that Joe shouldn't as well and doesn't mean he was a namby pamby PC idiot if he did. The real idiot is the neanderthal who thinks its alright to assume he can give another man any name he wants and it's hunky dory.


'Cause I'm Black you think I did it?

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"...did you happen to notice that John Steinbeck, one of the most politically progressive and impassioned writers of his or any other era, created the character of Charcoal as warm, funny, kind, noble, strong, unselfish, and well-liked by the other passengers?"

Well according to IMdb, Canada Lee wrote his own lines.

"But to respond to what you did ask, yes, I have heard of black people being nicknamed based on their skin color, in the 1980s, a young man was voted a beau in school and his nickname was Shine, because he was so black."

I wasn't there so I suppose there is the chance that the young man's nickname was a reference to the highly reflective properties of his skin but I think it's a little too close to the slur also used against blackmen because of their history of shining shoes.

"also, i think "charcoal" was probably my favorite character. i love how he wanted to just "stay out of" the whole fight about what to do with willy. smart man."

Yeah, I'm thinking participating in a lynching may have hit a little too close to home for Joe.

"In other words, the U.S.A. was definitely taking a righteous path towards racial equality at the time this film was made, but was still in its infancy stage."

Man, I almost spit my coffee out when I read that. This movie was made in 1944 and the U.S. was no where near "taking a righteous path towards racial equality". We've still got miles to go.

"People back then had thicker skin also. But calling a black guy "Charcoal" back then was no more offensive than calling a thin guy named Mike, "Skinny Mike". Or No Nose, or No Neck, or Johnny Eyeballs. Italians were hit with these names like Guinea Joe or Dego Frank. And no one was offended. Only namby pamby PC idiots today are offended by it which makes me laugh. If the person who has this name doesn't care, why should you?"

Oh they cared a great deal they just knew that they had better just smile and keep their mouths shut or they'd end up like Willie. If a black man took exception to the good natured, back slapping, no harm meant, all in good fun banter of white folk he would have been viewed as "upitty". Couldn't have that!

While we're at it, don't forget that "George" was a derogatory name for black men too. It may not sound that way but came about because it was a "nickname" for the black Pullman porters on trains.

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What? Maybe it was just used to much that it became a stereotype, but derogatory?

Nothing wrong with shining shoes either. It's honest work.

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Samuel Beckett

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According to TCM, many changes were made to Steinbeck's script by Hitchcock and his writers so much so that Steinbeck wanted his name removed from the film. Canada Lee was also outraged at the way his character was changed by Hitchcock and the writers. He attempted to change his lines but was denied.

George Carlin: It's all bullsh-t and it's bad for ya.

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Some are looking at this 1944 film through 2010 lenses.

There was definitely racism involved in the 'Charcoal' nickname. I would have loved to hear Joe's opinion on the whole matter, but this was neither the time nor the film. Instead we get a real slice of life of what it meant to be an African American man stuck on a boat with a group of whites in 1944 America. Of course, because the boats' passengers had bigger, more pressing enemies to roast, Joe got off pretty easily, only having to serve them food, be expected to respond to names that weren't his own and attend to other menial chores like pick pocketing.

I enjoyed the film, but am very aware that the interactions with the Joe character were not without racial overtones. The film was pretty progressive otherwise, but let us be very clear: Joe being referred to as 'Charcoal' can not be equally compared to a guy being called, 'Skinny Mike' in this decade or any other.

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People back then had thicker skin also. But calling a black guy "Charcoal" back then was no more offensive than calling a thin guy named Mike, "Skinny Mike". Or No Nose, or No Neck, or Johnny Eyeballs. Italians were hit with these names like Guinea Joe or Dego Frank. And no one was offended. Only namby pamby PC idiots today are offended by it which makes me laugh. If the person who has this name doesn't care, why should you?



Uh, are you serious? I don't think ANY Black person would've been happy being called 'Charcoal' instead of their proper names. How's that respectful? And I'm part Sicilian and I can assure you that ethnic slurs against Italian-Americans were likely not appreciated or tolerated by them, either. I'd bet quite a few woulda decked somebody if they'd tried it.

Is being anti 'political correctness' code for defending speaking to people like crap?


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Someone posted his class essay.

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[deleted]