Mr. Victrola Cola: I got this great window cleaner. Cleans good and doesn’t streak. Smells bad, though. Cleans good, but smells bad.
Putney Swope: As a window cleaner, forget it. Put soybeans in it and market it as a soft drink in the ghetto. We’ll put a picture of a rhythm and blues singer on the front and call it Victrola Cola.
This snippet of dialogue comes from the 1969 satirical film Putney Swope, as does the title of this post, another quote from the title character. In the film, the only black man on the executive board of an advertising firm — Putney Swope — is put in charge after the unexpected death of the chairman of the board. When voting for the replacement of the chairman, each board member votes for the person he thought no one else would vote for: Swope. Renaming the business “Truth and Soul, Inc.”, the new chairman replaces all but one of the white employees, and insists they no longer accept business from companies that produce alcohol, war toys, or tobacco. The success of the business draws unwanted attention from the government, which considers it “a threat to the national security.” Through comic satire, the film criticizes and plays with black militant rhetoric, the portrayal of race in Hollywood films, the white power structure, and nature of corruption in any struggle for power.
This film is being screened for the students of CC204, this Thursday February 10th at 6 PM in CAS 424, to complement their study of race and inequality in that course.