What Is A ‘Magical Negro’ And Why Are They In So Many Films?

Tuesday, November 15 by

Angel – Bedazzled

In perhaps the most spot-on appearance of a Magical Negro, Angel, played by the eminently likable Gabriel Casseus, is Elliot’s (Brendan Fraser) cellmate when he is briefly incarcerated. It become clear that the cellmate is an angel, meant to guide Elliott on his journey, ultimately making him realize what is really important, etc.

The director of this film really hits audiences over the head with this one, offering up a soft-spoken, unbelievably wise criminal, who has everything but a halo hanging over his head.

Chubbs – Happy Gilmore

Not all Magical Negroes are lame characters. Happy’s mentor, Chubbs, appears from nowhere to give him the insight to become a great golfer. But as soon as Happy makes the cut for the pros, Chubbs is killed after falling out a window after being spooked by an alligator, only to appear later in Happy’s mind as a guiding light.

Chubbs is a pretty awesome character, but also a great example of what purpose the Magical Negro serves. While it can go unnoticed in a film like Happy Gilmore, it’s a little more objectionable when it appears in films that don’t have grandmothers dressed up like KISS.

The Legend of Bagger Vance

No list on this topic would be complete without the inclusion of Bagger Vance. In fact, when Spike Lee polarized the term “Magical Negro,” it was in reference to this film.

Vance is a magical black caddy, played by Will Smith, who serves no other purpose than to help guide the main character through his troubled life. Once this purpose is served, he literally disappears as mysteriously as he arrived, although he does show up years later, having never aged a day. Now that’s magical.

Do you like this story?