American Fiction (2023) | Breaking stereotypes with stereotypes
American Fiction (2023) | Breaking stereotypes with stereotypes

American Fiction (2023) | Breaking stereotypes with stereotypes

Posted on 26 March, 2024



1h 57m


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Thelonious Ellison, also known as Monk, is a black writer, but his books are not black enough. His essays can be found on the shelves of African American writers, regardless of whether they deal with Greek myths. Ignored by publishers and the public, Monk decides to write a book under a pseudonym in which, almost as a joke, he includes Black stereotypes. Success is immediate but burdensome. The author has to deal with this situation, as well as with personal problems: his family, his relationships, and his identity. American Fiction is about stereotypes, relationships, and fulfillment vs success.

Based on the 2001 novel Erasure by American writer Percival Everett, American Fiction is a brilliant comedy-drama by Cord Jefferson, starring Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, Asteroid City, The Batman), Tracee Ellis Ross, Erika Alexander, and Sterling K. Brown (This is Us).

Fiction or non-fiction?

Stephen King‘s 1987 novel Misery is a psychological horror thriller about a successful novelist, Paul Sheldon, who is weary of writing romance stories. Desiring a change, he kills off the protagonist of his popular series, Misery, in his last novel and begins writing the books he wants. This choice leads him into a nightmarish situation. In a specular way, readers ignore Monk’s books, so he writes a mainstream story. Like Sheldon, Monk gains fame but doesn’t feel it his own.

What I think is wonderful about our film and about that aspect of our story is that it’s not simply confined to the experiences of Black people. I think everyone wants to be seen as they are. Everyone wants to be perceived honestly, and so I think there’s a universality within his frustrations.

Jeffrey Wright on examining race and identity in ‘American Fiction’, Washington Post

The relationship and difference between culture and stereotype are also explored through the theme of representation. While on one hand, the homogenization of figures and the lack of representation in the media are current issues, the portrayal of minorities and communities without a narrative purpose, but out of obligation, imposes unnecessary creative constraints on authors. This risk can reduce a movie or a book to a checklist of political correctness, as seen in Marvel’s Eternals.

American Fiction has received numerous awards and nominations. It won the 2023 People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie premiered. The Academy Awards nominated the film for the following categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jeffrey Wright), Best Supporting Actor (Sterling K. Brown), and Best Original Score (Laura Karpman). And it is also the winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay (Cord Jefferson).


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