Directed by: #VijaySridharan
Written by: #VijaySridhran
Peacock is a mockumentary that follows the titular character Peacock (Sridharan) in his quest to become a feared and respected gangster in California, because, according to the titular character, there are ‘no gangs in India’, which may be the most factually-incorrect line of dialogue ever produced in film, and I had to watch Gerard Buttler insist we should blow up the weather to prevent climate change in Geostorm.
Peacock is also directed by Sridharan and starts by paraphrasing Goodfellas’ iconic opening line, ‘as far back as I can remember’ – and with a harmless homage to one of Scorsese’s best works, the audience will discover everything wrong with the film. What we’re seeing here is not a satire on Italian mob bosses on the East Coast. Peacock doesn’t wear Italian pinstripe suits and jewellery with religious iconography; he wears du-rags and chains on the West Coast.
It’s possible after turning on the news in the past few weeks and seeing the unjust murder of George Floyd, and the subsequent millions of Black Lives Matter protesters protesting throughout the world, that I have become hyper-sensitive to race issues; but, Peacock, felt like an unnecessary culmination of all the worst stereotypes associated with black people, so much so, that in the end, it didn’t feel like satire, rather, a very uneducated observation of not contemporary society.
It should be noted this film was released before the murder of Floyd, but that doesn’t excuse its naivety.
Perhaps this wouldn’t have been as evident and frustrating if it weren’t for the fact that every actual black character in the film plays a genuine villainous gangster to which Peacock aspires to be like. Of course, when you’re watching such a misjudged film, you will also notice that the only on-screen white character plays the voice of reason throughout, which is equally infuriating. Significantly, these decisions were not a quality in an incredibly layered satire: we’re not seeing a critique on the prejudice and ignorance of a deluded, un-educated aspirant gangster, it’s, the director’s idea of reality.
It may not come as a surprise that when watching the film, I didn’t laugh once. I didn’t smirk once. I think resting contempt face would be a more accurate description of my facial expressions. My moral objections to the film aside, the jokes weren’t funny. All of the jokes are childish and ubiquitous: the gangster is a bit silly and doesn’t exactly beam masculinity; mobile phones ring in unfortunate times causing awkward moments; binoculars used to spy on gag rivals are made for children. Good satire is rare for a reason: it’s hard, and where creators often fall short, it’s because they can’t differentiate the subtleties between standard comedy and satire. Or, in Peacock’s case, the difference between satire and juvenility (in every sense of the word).