Emmanuel Acho, Jason Whitlock and The Sports Talk to Race Traitor Pipeline
What the conflict between sports talking heads says about the state of intra-racial discourse
Robert DeNiro movies tend to break the mold because despite a gruff, macho exterior, his performances always reveal the soft spots of manly men. I was watching The Score, a heist movie starring DeNiro and one of the great character actors to play opposite him, Ed Norton Jr. I’d also just listened to Van Lathan’s Higher Learning podcast, featuring guest Emmanuel Acho. I saw some DeNiro qualities in both of them when they recently squared off about Acho coddling his white guests.
Here’s the basic plot of The Score. Nick, a veteran jewel thief, yearns to pull off one last big score so he and his sweetheart (played by Angela Bassett) can finally settle down and leave the illicit life behind. A crime boss (Marlon Brando) pairs Nick with Brian, a slick young thief who wants nothing more than to win big and take home money like he’s never seen before. As the classic hero and villain, Nick and Brian quibble about the level of acceptable risk, with the senior of the men preferring subtle, quiet techniques, and the younger wanting to go out with a bang.
The story is set up to empathize with Nick. He is the main character. We see him share a longing kiss with his girlfriend, his simple daily routine maintaining a jazz bar in Toronto, and his hemming and hawing over whether he can live a life of crime anymore. He’s a thief but he’s got some honor to him. We first meet counterpart Brian in a random street corner run-in with Nick. Everything about Brian is shifty. He’s pretending to be a mentally disabled man because that gives him the inside track to work inside the Customs House—the place where they’ll rob—undetected. He takes it upon himself to find Nick before the job’s even started. The man’s energy and vibe is all wrong from the start. Nick bristles at working with Brian but does so while sure to keep him at arm’s length. Eventually, this comes back to bite Nick because there is, after all, no honor among thieves. Brian is a massive liability, can’t play by anyone’s rules, and provides constant resistance during an already difficult caper.