What Are You Lookin' At Boy? 6 Of The Most Racist Characters In Movie History
The hatred and ugliness of racism has been portrayed quite clearly and memorably in many films. The most racist characters in movie history wear their hatred on their sleeves. In some cases, those racists may change some of their core beliefs when they realize they have been operating out of fear and ignorance. In other cases, those racists are shown to be non-thinking, non-compassionate individuals whose racist behavior gets worse.
Bob Ewell, To Kill A Mockingbird
This was an award-winning movie released in 1962 that went a long way towards educating Americans about racism and its inherent ugliness. Bob Ewell (played by James K. Anderson) is the father of a white girl in Maycomb, Alabama who tells authorities she has been raped by a black man. The girl has actually been assaulted by her father. Atticus Finch is the attorney who represents the black man accused of the crime. Finch is probably as reviled as the accused because he is attempting to defend a black man. Ewell's inherent racism is so deep that he eventually attacks Finch's young daughter, who is saved from the attack by a misunderstood neighbor.
Buck Grotowski, Monster's Ball
Hank Grotowski is a prison guard in Louisiana who is a blatant racist. He got his attitude from his father Buck (played by Peter Boyle), who lives with him. After assisting in the execution of a black prisoner, Hank Grotowski ends up helping the prisoner's widow, a woman named Leticia Musgrove(played by Halle Berry). His racist attitudes dissolve and he falls in love with Leticia, in stark contrast to his father whose attitudes never wane.
Freddie Lee Cobb, A Time to Kill
A young black girl is raped in Mississippi and her father murders the two racists accused of the crime. He goes on trial for murder. Freddie Lee Cobb (played by Kiefer Sutherland), is the brother of one of the two men who were accused of the rape. Cobb leads a Ku Klux Klan attack on defense attorney Jake Brigance and eventually tries to shoot the lawyer. Cobb is the leading racist in a hate-filled culture.
Derek Vinyard, American History X
Vinyard (played by Edward Norton) is a dangerous neo-Nazi who preaches the gospel of hate to anyone who will listen. Vinyard shows his viciousness when he executes a black gang member who is attempting to steal his father's truck by curb-stomping him without remorse. During his prison term, Vinyard starts to understand that his racism is misguided. However, because he is in prison, he can't stop his younger brother from following in his footsteps. His younger brother is eventually murdered and Derek attempts to change his life direction as the movie ends.
Bill Gillespie, In the Heat of the Night
A wealthy Chicago man is found murdered in Mississippi, and the Sparta Police Department has to solve the crime. When sheriff Bill Gillespie (played by Rod Steiger) comes across Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier) who is passing through the city as he travels back to Philadelphia, he is convinced that Tibbs has committed the murder because he is a black man with a lot of cash in his pocket. Gillespie's deep-seated hatred gives way to embarrassment when he learns that Tibbs is a police detective from Philadelphia. Tibbs eventually helps Gillespie solve the murder and Gillespie's racial hatred turns to respect for his colleague.
Pino, Do The Right Thing
Mookie is a young black man who delivers pizzas for Sal's Famous in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. This pizzeria is owned by Sal Frangione and his two sons Pino and Vito help him in this predominantly black neighborhood. While Vito makes friends with Mookie, Pino (portrayed by John Turturro) despises him and the black clientele who frequent the pizzeria. When a customer protests the absence of any black celebrities on the restaurant's "Wall of Fame," Sal responds that he can put anyone he wants on wall and since he is Italian that's who he chooses to honor on his wall. Racial tensions rise throughout the movie and a fight between Sal and his customers eventually escalates to a full-scale riot that destroys the pizzeria and other area businesses.