Top Five (2014) by Chris Rock Top Quotes
Top Five is a 2014 American comedy film written and directed by Chris Rock. The film, starring Rock, Rosario Dawson, and Gabrielle Union, was screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The movie follows New York City comedian and film star Andre Allen (Rock), who has to confront his past and comedic career after doing an interview with journalist Chelsea Brown (Dawson). The film was released on December 12, 2014, by Paramount Pictures.
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Top Five (2014) Top Quotes
First off, Rock sat down with New York magazine’s Frank Rich and shared his nuanced thoughts on the idea of “racial progress”:
When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before… So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.
In the same interview, Rock also got reflective on the legacy of President Obama, offering up a pretty brutally hilarious comparison:
I’m trying to figure out the right analogy. Everybody wanted Michael Jordan, right? We got Shaq. That’s not a disappointment. You know what I mean? We got Charles Barkley. It’s still a Hall of Fame career. The president should be graded on jobs and peace, and the other stuff is debatable. Do more people have jobs, and is there more peace? I guess there’s a little more peace. Not as much peace as we’d like, but I mean, that’s kind of the gig. I don’t recall anybody leaving on an up. It’s just that kind of job. I mean, the liberals that are against him feel let down because he’s not Bush. And the thing about George Bush is that the kid revolutionized the presidency. How? He was the first president who only served the people who voted for him. He literally operated like a cable network.
In a similarly wide-ranging interview with Grantland’s Rembert Browne, Rock talked about having kids and being a role model:
Be a role model to your kids. You just are. Your kids watch you every day. They kind of do what you do. But the whole “Be a role model to people” [idea] is kind of racist when you think about it. It’s not like, “Get on the back of the bus, n—-” racist. It suggests that my behavior is not natural. It’s like, “Hey I don’t beat my wife because I don’t beat my wife, not because I’m trying to help the race out.” Know what I mean? I read because I want to read. It’s like, you have a negative image of your people as a whole if you’re putting all of your eggs in my basket. Or a basket of my behavior. Really? I don’t smoke crack because I don’t want to smoke crack, not because I’m trying to help out. So you’re saying if I wasn’t famous, I’d just be in jail and cracked up if no one was watching me? No.
Next up, there’s Rock’s impassioned editorial in The Hollywood Reporter, where he touched on, amongst other topics, the lack of good roles for black women in Hollywood:
Or how about True Detective? I never heard anyone go, “Is it going to be Amy Adams or Gabrielle Union?” for that show. I didn’t hear one black girl’s name on those lists. Not one. Literally everyone in town was up for that part, unless you were black. And I haven’t read the script, but something tells me if Gabrielle Union were Colin Farrell’s wife, it wouldn’t change a thing. And there are almost no black women in film. You can go to whole movies and not see one black woman. They’ll throw a black guy a bone. OK, here’s a black guy. But is there a single black woman in Interstellar? Or Gone Girl? Birdman?The Purge? Neighbors? I’m not sure there are. I don’t remember them. I go to the movies almost every week, and I can go a month and not see a black woman having an actual speaking part in a movie. That’s the truth.
And finally, from a discussion with Rolling Stone, Rock shared his take on the relationship between comedy and hip-hop:
The Stones can play arenas because the Stones have songs that are not purely based on references that you had to be there for. I love Public Enemy. But they don’t have “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Kanye will be able to play arenas maybe more than Jay Z honestly, because there’s a vulnerability and an emotional thing that happens in his music that doesn’t happen in most rap. I love rap, but rap is like comedy: It rots. Comedy rots. Trading Places is a perfect movie, just unbelievably good. But there are other comedies, not nearly as old as Trading Places, that just have references and things in them that aren’t funny five years later. And rap’s got a lot of that.