A heartfelt celebration of the greatest dark-skinned people who never actually existed.
By: Jimbo X
Every February, just about every website out there not operated by neo-Nazis scrambles to put together some kind of cloying "Black History Month" retrospective. Even the nichest of blogs try to cobble together something that highlights the impact/significance of black individuals on whatever random bullshit they cover, even when there's hardly any racial connections to work with whatsoever. Case in point? This dude who year in, year out, desperately tries to tack on a "Black History Month" angle to anime culture.
Well, we here at The Internet Is In America are far, far beyond such half-hearted, half-assed displays of cowardly, politically-correct tokenism. By golly, if we're going to celebrate black people, we're going to go all out and celebrate black people as if we actually were black people (you know, because black people are known for being among the most festive of ethnic groups.) But why draw up yet another boring ass listicle highlighting why Martin Luther King, Jr. was literally better than Jesus and reminding people that a black dude invented peanut butter (even though some French Canadian fruit already had a patent on it?) Malcolm X and Booker T. Washington already get enough acclaim from us as it is, so howzabout we focus on that oh-so unsung, forgotten brotherhood of brothas' who exist solely in the realm of fiction?
If you ask us, make-believe black people deserve far more recognition, especially in this bitterly divided political climate. Sure, sure, the following pioneering black folks may not have corporeally impacted the world around us, but they sure as shit made an impression on ALL of our collective pop cultural upbringings. If blackness were a brand, consider the following 28 individuals to be among the best spokesmen the world of entertainment could ever hoist upon us - the melanin-challenged and the melanin-unchallenged, alike.
So here's to you, unheralded fictitious black characters - this is a token of appreciation long overdue for both you and your peoples.
01. Waldo Faldo (Family Matters)
I've said it time and time again; Waldo Faldo was the absolute best thing about Family Matters, and considering this was a show that has an evil ventriloquist doll as a recurring character and people using the teleport pod from The Fly to turn into Bruce Lee clones so they can beat up drug runners easier, trust me, that's saying something. Give actor Shawn Harrison (who hasn't really done much of anything since the show got cancelled) all the credit in the world, because he absolutely killed it playing the Bizarro retard to Steve Urkel's boy genius Lex Luthor. It's hard to pick just one memorable Waldo moment from the show, so instead, I'll just recount my two favorite Waldo-isms: the time he took Laura to go see JFK (pronouncing it as "jif-kuh") and when after a bully told Steve to "put his money where his mouth is," he quickly interjected "don't do it, Steve, money's dirty!"
02. Arnold Drummond (Diff'rent Strokes)
Diff'rent Strokes might just be my favorite sitcom ever, and a lot of that has to do with the little ball of delightfulness that was Arnold Drummond. Played by the greatest black midget actor of all-time (fuck you Emmanuel Lewis) - the inimitable Gary Coleman, who I think was about 40-or-something at the time the show was on - the character brought such an admirable air of pluckiness to the oft-heavy handed program, offering much-needed naivety and comedic relief whenever his best friend got molested down at the bike shop or his sister got abducted and sexually tortured by a guy who said he was an astronaut. Pretty much EVERY episode of Diff'rent Strokes holds up incredibly well today, making it one of the few shows from the 1980s that's not only watchable, but watchable in a non-smarmy, post-ironic way. And you can attribute most of the show's staying power to one thing, and one thing only - our adorable little buddy Arnold.
03. Demon (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning)
Demon is my favorite victim in the entire F13 canon and don't nobody else even come close. Portrayed by Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. - yes, the same guy who played Spider in Return of the Living Dead, Dee Jay in the live-action Street Fighter movie and was the titular character in Juwanna Mann - Demon is a dude who lives in a trailer with a refrigerator filled with enchiladas, pizza and eggrolls who says "you're gonna' get it, bitch" to his girlfriend while she rocks him back and forth in a tin outhouse. Of course, this being a Jason movie and all, things don't exactly end well for him after he smokes weed and takes a shit will singing "ooo, baby" over and over again. Long story short? Let's just say the kind of penetration he gets prolly wasn't the kind of penetration he wanted.
04. Magneto Jones (Hamburger: The Motion Picture)
Holy shit, if you've never seen Hamburger, you need to click out of this nonsense, mosey on over to YouTube and watch it right freakin' now. There are literally 9,000 things to love about this movie - from the scene where an old woman tells a drive-thru speaker "fuck off, pickle" to the part where Dick Butkus (yes, that Dick Butkus) calls a black cop "pecker cheese" and tells him to go pick up his check down at the welfare office to the grand finale where two dozen 400 pound-plus fast food patrons get diarrhea simultaneously. Alas, even in a movie jammed pack with highlights, the absolute best thing about Hamburger has to be Chip McAllister's performance as Magneto Jones, a Jermaine Jackson wannabe who's getting a free edumacation at Hamburger U just so the parent company won't get hit with a civil rights suit. Sure, he spends most of the movie handcuffed and kept in lockdown, but at least they let him out of bondage long enough to participate in this beautiful dialogue exchange:
Fred Domino: "All right, who ordered 60 Double Buster Burgers?"
Magneto Jones: "That fat motherfucker right there. That fat motherfucker right there. Them two giggling twin motherfuckers right there. And that skinny walnut headed motherfucker right there ordered 72."And if you don't laugh your ass of when he receives a lifetime achievement award the minute he earns his diploma, you sir or madam, are not fit to live in our society.
05. DJ Professor K (Jet Grind Radio)
The mastermind of the single greatest soundtrack in the history of video gaming (well, in-universe, anyway.) Kinda' sorta representing the post-corporate-apocalypse-takeover version of Samuel L. Jackson's character in Do The Right Thing, DJ Professor K operates the titular Jet Set Radio pirate station, which - in addition to slinging' the dopest electro-funk, J-Pop and indie hip-hop you'll find anywhere - also gives you crucial tips and info on overthrowing the man in your rocket-powered rollerblades. Considering how much I love both Jet Grind Radio and Jet Set Radio Future, I suppose you only imagine my exuberant joy when my girlfriend flipped on How To Get Away With Murder and the fucking detective WAS the same guy that used to scream "Rapid 99, gotta' FLAG!" on my Xbox.
06. Roland Kincaid (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, 4)
Kincaid is EASILY the best thing about the Elm Street movies, and that includes Robert Englund. Hell, if New Line Cinema had any sense, they would've had Kincaid break Freddy K in half Bane-style in the first 10 minutes of part 4 and the rest of the franchise just woulda' been him walking around all day calling people "motherfuckers" and telling him how bad he's gonna' whup their asses for trivial offenses. Ken Sagoes - far and away the greatest alumni of Kennesaw State University, and it's not even close - also gets bonus points for portraying yet another iconic black character, Darryl on the short-lived What's Happening Now!
07. Carl Carlson (The Simpsons)
You know, Carl Carlson may in fact be the most flattering depiction of the working class black man in any realm of fiction. Totally devoid of the hackneyed, desperate black mannerisms most African-American stock characters are saddled with, Carl actually comes off as a fairly relatable and respectable blue collar worker (despite canonically holding an advanced degree in nuclear physics) who is far more professional than any of his white coworkers. And if geographical diversity is one of those things you're keen on, the character may indeed be the only pop culture character in history ever described as "African-Icelandic."
08. Clubber Lang (Rocky III)
Forget Apollo Creed, forget Ivan Drago and forget Tommy "Machine" Gunn - the best Rocky "villain" has always been James "Clubber" Lang. Unforgettably portrayed by Mr. T - who is basically just playing a slightly more jazzed up version of B.A. Baracus - Lang actually had a pretty convincing argument for hating Rocky ... because the media was showering him with praise for being "The Great White Hope" and he kept ducking him, knowing he was the far better boxer. Sure, threatening to rape Rocky's wife at a press conference was a pretty bold move, but hey, it DID get him that championship bout, didn't it? That it took an ass whupping from Hulk Hogan and Rocky literally learning how to fight black to get the belt back shows you just how daunting a rogue this Lang fellow really is.
09. New Jack (ECW Wrestling)
After making his debut in Smoky Mountain Wrestling - where he tried to win matches by "affirmative action" (that being, a win via two-count) and feuded with a guy named "The Dirty White Boy" - one Jerome Young packed his bags to Philadelphia, where he was soon transformed into a "singles" 'rassler whose entire shtick revolved around hitting people with staplers, cookie sheets and old VCR units while Dr. Dre and Ice Cube blared over the P.A. system for the duration of the bout. His career highlights include almost murdering a teenager before a live audience, LITERALLY trying to kill another wrestler by trying to impale him on a ringpost, getting arrested for stabbing a dude FOR REAL during a match and this one time he legit beat the shit out of an old dude with a baseball bat while disgruntled Caucasian fans kept calling him a "nigger."
10. Tom Johnson (Shenmue)
Granted, a Jamaican hot dog vendor in rural Japan in the late 1980s may sound a little, uh, unlikely, but there's no denying the affable food truck owner isn't one of the most memorable characters from the Dreamcast classic. After all - the dude did let us borrow his ghetto blaster to play flowery Japanese pop music and taught us how to spin kick glass beer bottles, didn't he?
11. Freddy "Rerun" Stubbs (What's Happening!!)
You know how they talk about actors having their lives ruined by one acting role sometimes? Well, Fred Berry's life was totally destroyed by What's Happening!! and its less heralded late 1980s sequel What's Happening Now!! Until the day he died in 2003, he had to live in the inescapable shadow of "Rerun," the rotund, red beret sportin', hamburger-shirt wearing comedic fat-ass who ran around the hood yelling "hey, Hey, HEY!" and getting arrested for trying to bootleg Doobie Bros. concerts. But come on, was it really that bad of a hand in life if it produced one of the better black family sitcoms of the late 1970s? Eh - probably not, but at least he turned out better than Todd Bridges, I suppose.
12. Grandma Turner (Fight For Your Life)
The only female African-American to make the countdown, but trust me, she fucking earned it. Longtime The Internet Is In America readers should already know plenty about the immortal blaxploitation/home invasion classic Fight For Your Life, and in a film LOADED with memorable moments, she might very well be responsible for the single best part of the entire movie. Say it loud and say it proud, kids: "don't move or I'll blow your motherfuckin' balls off!"
13. Jericho Jackson (Action Jackson)
Think, for a moment, just how incredible of a career Carl Weathers has had. What would certainly be the career highlights of a good 99.8 percent of the rest of the actors out there - roles like Dreamer Tatum in Semi-Tough - have all but been forgotten because of his even better performances in movies like Predator. Alas, as good as his portrayal of Apollo Creed may have been - and it's the epitome of fuckin' timeless already - the absolute zenith of Weathers' career HAS to be his performance as the eponymous Action Jackson in 1988. I mean, goddamn ... just LOOK at the trailer! There's no way a movie starring Coach as the evil antagonist should be this awesome, but trust me - it is.
14. Tommy Gibbs (Hell Up In Harlem)
Picking my favorite Fred Williamson role is sorta' like asking me to pick my favorite testicle. Honestly, I'm fond of all of 'em, but if I HAD to save just one Williamson flick from vanishing off the face of the Earth, it would have to be Hell Up In Harlem. Why? Because it has scenes in which protagonist Tommy Gibbs does all of the following:
a.) he hangs an Italian mobster in a noose and says "I'm about to send you to wop heaven"
b.) he forces another Italian mobster to eat soul food at gunpoint
c.) he tells a preacher's daughter "whenever you get tired of talking to the Lord, come find me" and, perhaps most hilarious of all ...
d.) while being pursued by the mob, he literally stops dead in his tracks so he can impale a dude at the beach laying on a confederate flag towel, even though he had nothing to do with why Gibbs was being pursued and didn't actually do or say anything to him at all.
So yeah, I need to do a review of this one, like, ASAP.
15. Griff (Married ... with Children)
Al Bundy is one of the greatest TV characters ever, but it seems to me his supporting cast doesn't get anywhere near the appreciation they deserve. Griff was definitely one of the show's more understated characters, a fellow fatty-hating shoe salesman who, in many ways, represented an even better comedic foil than Jefferson D'arcy. And holy hell, could that guy sing, too!
16. FUCKIN' Dolemite!
As with Fred Williamson, I'm tempted to just include every single character Rudy Ray Moore ever portrayed. Shit, if February had 30 days in it, I prolly would have gone on ahead and done stand-alone entries for The Disco Godfather and Petey Wheatstraw. Alas, whenever you hear the name "Rudy Ray," the first thing that SHOULD come to mind, of course, is motherfuckin' DOLEMITE, the revenge-obsessed, impromptu crude couplet-forming pimp who fought a drug runner in cahoots with city hall in his first movie and then ran around slapping fat racist sheriffs with his pimp cane in the sequel. Yeah, Dolemite has been in some subsequent sequels and spin-offs, but really, you're way better off just watching The Human Tornado five times a day. I mean, just generally, in life.
17.2 Cold Scoprio (WCW Wrestling)
Although 2 Cold wrestled in all three major U.S. promotions throughout the 1990s, his most memorable work was definitely at the beginning of his career in WCW. Shit, who could forget that time he unveiled his Tumbleweed finisher at Clash of the Champions, or that AWESOME back-and-forth match he had against Barry Windham that, even now, is pretty much the best "underdog almost wins it" bout ever? Yeah, he had some decent bouts in ECW, but don't even bother with all that Flash Funk nonsense in the WWF. Also: 2 Cold is single-handedly responsible for Arn Anderson being alive right now (as well as Sid Vicious not serving a life sentence for homicide.)
18. Black Manta (D.C. Comics)
I think my favorite thing about Black Manta (besides the fact that he breaks a whole bunch of misconceptions about the black community and buoyancy by being an aquatic-themed African-American villain) is that D.C. just arbitrarily decided he should be black one day. The character had been around for 25 years before they decided to give him a proper backstory, and holy shit, did they ever - by making him a Baltimore youth kidnapped and sexually assaulted by pirates who hates Aquaman simply because he didn't rescue him back when he was eight. And if you're thinking to yourself, "you know, there's no way anybody can come up with an even worse way to retcon his origin story" - they turned around and made him an autistic kid with an affinity for cold water whose beef with Aquaman is derived solely from his desire to hold the nonexistent mantle of "Ocean Master."
19. Morris FUCKIN' DAY!
Yeah, there were some good songs in there (not to mention it was hilarious as fuck watching Prince try to act tough) but the absolute best thing about Purple Rain HAD to be Morris Day. The part where he walks by Prince's dressing room right after his dad attempts suicide, then walks backwards just to ask him "how's the family?" before shucking and jiving his way out of the building is pretty much the consensus pick for funniest dick move ever in the history of anything. However, Morris probably put in an even BETTER heel performance in Graffiti Bridge, complete with one of the greatest moments in the history of the motion picture - the infamous "you know, this plant looks kinda' ... thirsty" scene.
20. Ned Tiese (Brotherhood of Death)
Brotherhood of Death is actually one of the better "serious" blaxploitation movies of the late 1970s, but pretty much the only reason anybody remembers it is because its trailer - its glorious, glorious trailer - was included upfront on the VHS version of Faces of Death II. 'Tis a shame so few people have ever actually seen it, because it really is a well-made and entertaining little B-movie opus. And the only thing more hilarious than watching black vigilantes use an armored school bus to fight the Klan is when it suddenly dawns on you that the main character is played by the same dude who played Dudley's dad on Diff'rent Strokes.
21. Martel "Too Sweet" Gordon (Penitentiary)
Fuck Star Wars, the greatest movie trilogy ever HAS to be the trifecta of Penitentiary movies. You might be thinking to yourself, "old Jimbo, buddy, how exactly can you make a movie about the same character being wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit THREE TIMES and still make 'em entertaining?" Well, for starters, you make the entire franchise revolve around championship inmate boxing, which - as anyone who watched the great 2014 documentary Champs featuring Bernard Hopkins can attest to - actually exists. Secondly, you toss in a super eclectic cast of side characters, including but not limited to Mr. T and immortal WWF midget 'rassler the Haiti Kid portraying a coke-addicted butthole rapist who lives in the sewer. But most of all, you anchor the whole damn thing around one Martel "Too Sweet" Gordon - played with inimitable pizzazz by Leon Isaac Kennedy, who might as well be the Sir Laurence Oliver of blaxploitation movies - as he battles trumped up murder charges in the courtroom and both steroided up Ernie Hudson and a homosexual drug kingpin who makes Milo Yiannopoulos look like Brock Lesnar between the ropes.
22. Papa Shango (WWF Wrestling)
There's never been a more terrifying/probably racist pro 'rassler than Papa Shango, and that's saying something when your competition also includes a fat black truck driver from Mississippi repackaged into a cannibal from Sudan with Lucky Charms marshmallows painted on his stomach. If you grew up watching WWF 'rasslin in the early 1990s, you no doubt have PLENTY of memories of this voodoo warrior, whether it was that time he set The Ultimate Warrior's boots on fire or made black sludge pour out of Mean Gene's sleeves on live television. Eventually, the suits at the WWF decided that showcasing a black man as a supernatural Haitian zombie prolly wasn't the most P.C. thing to do, so they did what any company looking to repair its image among minorities would do: the rebranded him as a street fighting thug with MMA skills and later, as an actual pimp.
23. "Black" Roper (Double Dragon)
There weren't a whole lot of black people on the NES, and even in the basketball and football games, they were usually more reddish-purple than any actual hue a black person has ever been. In that, the "black" Ropers from Double Dragon deserve some sort of mention for breaking the 8-bit color barrier. Sure, sure, they may have been nothing more than simple palette swaps of the "standard" Roper enemies, but hey - cultural representation has to start somewhere, even if it is in the form of barrel-throwin' ruffians.
24. Kel Kimble (Keenan & Kel)
Let's end the argument right here and now - Kel was ALWAYS funnier than Keenan. Yeah, yeah, I know everybody remembers him from Good Burger, but the BEST incarnation of the character had to be the (slightly) more nuanced version featured on the mid-'90s sitcom Keenan & Kel - and the fact that he's the only black person I've ever heard of that prefers orange soda to the purple stuff is reason alone to include him on the countdown.
25. Russ Tyler (The Mighty Ducks 2, 3)
But, we will give Keenan his proper, dap, too. Perhaps noting that the original Mighty Ducks movie was - how to put it - whiter than a mayonnaise blizzard, the suits at Disney reckoned they needed to incorporate an African-American angle into their hockey comedy franchise. The end result? A scene where a bunch of inner city L.A. black kids are using a basketball court for a rousing game of roller hockey set to a song with the lyrics "getting' bent and bent and as a I puff on a dankt" and "uh oh, I crave skin, rip shit, find a honey to dip it in" with our main man Russ Tyler introducing his lethal "knuckle puck" technique ... which, of course, is illegal as fuck in real hockey, but seeing as how there's a redneck who literally "lassos" an opposing player in the movie's climactic championship game, it's not even the stupidest thing in the flick to complain about.
26. Peter (Dawn of the Dead)
While Night of the Living Dead gets all the credit for being the first horror film to (however inadvertently) drudge up the topic of racism, I think we can all agree that the black hero in Dawn of the Dead was way more memorable and likable - yes, even if he did look way too much like O.J. Simpson for my comfort. He's really the only character in the movie that seems to have his shit together, and he gives us the best line of the entire flick (you know, that whole spiel about "when there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.") Also, that look he gives that one bitch early on in the movie when she asks him if he has "real brothers or street brothers" is pretty much the funniest thing ever.
27. Skeeter Valentine (Doug)
OK, so technically, Skeeter is more turquoise than chocolate, but goddammit, those mannerisms were straight up Afro-American. Even as a kid I knew that Doug's best pal was supposed to be black, even if the show took place in a world where purple and orange skinned motherfuckers were everywhere. And hey, don't accuse me of seeing things that aren't actually there - the creator of the show recently came out and said Mr. Valentine was indeed canonically a negro.
28. Shaun King (The New York Daily News)
And last but not least, we have the greatest cultural satirist of our day, Mr. Shaun King. Shaun here has delighted readers coast-to-coast with his hilarious post-post-postmodern minstrel show, with only the absolute dimmest of the dim not picking up the surely intended comedy of a man whiter than lite mayo proclaiming himself a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement. Not since the heyday of Amos 'n' Andy has a white performer done so much for the art of racial imitation, and not since the heyday of Andy Kaufman have we seen anyone so committed to living out a public charade that anybody with two brain cells to rub together can figure out is a complete and utter ruse. There's no doubt about it - when it comes to fictitious black people, Shaun King is both our society and our era's literal poster boy, and to think anything less of him, naturally, is plumb preposterous.