You have made a shocking discovery. Your boyfriend, partner, friend or loved one has revealed that they were not only able to tolerate watching a film full of racism, sexism and juvenile humour – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – but that they actually enjoyed it. Should you run from the cinema the minute this becomes apparent? Quietly move to another chair so that no one knows you’re together? Loudly deliver a monologue about equality, women and narrative structure every time they laugh?
The answer is: no. Rather than exercise the same throwaway prejudice that Anchorman 2 directs at many of its characters (particularly those who are black and/ or female), I suggest you rise above this and show some compassion. Think of your loved one as a sick person – perhaps someone who has just been run over by a car. Try and understand what it is that they enjoyed about the film. Then, afterwards, with the urgency of a surgeon reconstructing a crushed torso, you can attempt to change their mind and save your relationship. To be honest, it’s your (and their) only hope.
To help you with your task, here are some reasons why someone might enjoy Anchorman 2:
- Some of the sequences are very funny. Not the one where Will Ferrell’s bumbling news anchor Ron Burgundy repeatedly shouts the word “black” at his new (black) female boss. Nor the one where she subsequently falls in love with him (because who can resist a racist?). But there is a really good shark. And a scorpion. And a bit where someone’s legs disappear while doing the weather.
- If you’re laughing at some points (see above), it’s easier to forgive others (also, see above).
- Your loved one has confused non-specific 1970s/80s clothes, set and hairstyles with irony. “Anchorman 2 is a parody of a bygone era, duh!” they may say. “The point being?” you might reply. “It’s just funny,” they’ll say, unable to really answer because there is no answer.
- Ron Burgundy is just a clown – albeit a dislikeable one with no redeeming qualities and a cardboard cutout personality. However, some people don’t need their clowns to be identifiable or have any real depth. They just need them to be stupid. And Ron Burgundy is very stupid.
- Writers Ferrell and Adam Mckay are being avant-garde. You can’t just go up to someone these days and shout the colour of their skin at them. Suggest that there may be good reason for this and your loved one may reply that the film is breaking down barriers in a hilarious but refreshing way in an otherwise PC world where mindless insults can only be delivered anonymously over the internet.
- Yes, the women characters are bad, but it’s not about them. They might all fight over Ron Burgundy at the end in a way that is the familiar stuff of male fantasies in a male-dominated blar blar blar…but the film is a spoof of other films where this happens. If things are to change, what better way of achieving this than showing the status quo, with no obvious critique, again and again and again and again…
If you’re lucky, you might find that simply listing the reasons above will cause your loved one to dramatically rethink his or her opinion of Anchorman 2. “Am I a sexist racist?” they may nervously type into Google after speaking to you. Later, when other people ask what they think of the film, they will respond, “Some bits were good and some bits weren’t” or “I enjoyed it while I was in there, but I can now see it has problems.” And then you will know that your work is done.