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They Cloned Tyrone

A Feast Full of Stereotypes

by Dain Ruiz


3 Idiots - The three friends consume mountains of rich food at Virus’ daughter’s wedding.
FIGURE 1. Yo-Yo, Slick Charles, and Fontaine feel the drugged chicken's effects.

Juel Taylor’s directorial debut, They Cloned Tyrone, is a Sci-Fi/Blaxploitation film that follows three characters: Fontaine, Slick Charles, and Yo-Yo. These characters discover that the government is experimenting on their entire community to figure out how to control the Black population. As they begin to uncover the secrets of the government testing, they find that what they believe to be essential characteristics of their community are fabrications. These three characters work to uncover how far this conspiracy goes and rise with their community to fight against their white oppressors.


As seen in many Blaxploitation films, the use of stereotypes of the Black community is heavily prevalent. For example, in the image, we see these stereotypes through the clothes and jewelry that our three main characters adorn for the roles that they play: Fontaine, a “thug,” wearing baggy clothes and a grill; Slick Charles, a “pimp,” wearing a flashy coat and expensive diamond rings; and Yo-Yo, a “hoe,” wearing a fur coat and oversized hoop earrings.


Furthermore, Taylor utilizes these stereotypes through the use of food in They Cloned Tyrone. After finding a cloned version of Fontaine in a secret lab, the group decides they need some comfort food to calm down and go to “Got Damn Chicken” to get some well-deserved hot and spicy fried chicken. The group then begins to feast on the fried chicken in a packed restaurant filled with others who look just like them. In the image above, when they eat the chicken, they are all instantly overcome with happiness and begin laughing euphorically. Slick Charles then realizes that the people running the conspiracy have put something into the comfort food to trigger this reaction artificially. This scene in the chicken shop forces characters to realize how far into their community the government has reached in its experimental testing.


Juel Taylor, a Black filmmaker, uses elements of the Blaxploitation genre to display the relationship between the Black community and the feast. Specifically, Taylor displays the importance that soul food plays in this relationship, tapping into the stereotype of soul food being Black comfort food. Kass explains in The Hungry Soul that we as humans are “not capable of full self-command,” meaning that we succumb to our desires, especially when it comes to what we want to eat. This relates to the film because as the characters go to the restaurant to feast, there is an assumption that the food they choose to eat will undoubtedly be fried chicken, based on the stereotype that the Black community favors fried chicken as their form of comfort food. More specifically, as shown in the image, there is an additional assumption that the characters will eat their soul food at a cheap, fast-food restaurant. The government understands the importance and desire of eating traditionally Black foods in this community, so they specifically chose to include this cultural pillar in their drug testing. Taylor includes this stereotype in the film to showcase how the predominately white government abuses this perception of the Black community.

 

They Cloned Tyrone. Dir. Juel Taylor. Perf. John Boyega, Jaime Foxx, Teyonah Parris. Netflix, 2023. Streaming.


Kass, Leon. The Hungry Soul Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature. The Free Press. 1994.

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