They Cloned Tyrone
Director: Juel Taylor
Date Created: 2023-07-21 00:00
They Cloned Tyrone is a fun exploration of racially charged conspiracy theories. The film effortlessly blends comedy with black stereotypes. It creates a film that is easy to digest and doesn’t lean too heavily on the uncomfortable, sometimes harrowing realities of being black in America.
Instead, it pokes fun at it and approaches it from a perspective that is so far-fetched and fun, that you can’t help but have a good time enjoying this film. Yet it still sparks fascinating discourse about what perpetuates and holds down the black community in America. Is it the powers that be, or is it ourselves?
They Cloned Tyrone Explained
A drug dealer, a pimp, and a prostitute become aware of unusual occurrences in their community. With curiosity leading the way, they embark on a journey to unravel the mystery.
**Heads Up There WILL be spoilers in this review.**
The Stereotypically Black Products Explained
As the film progresses we learn that there is more than clones happening in the city of Glen. The people of Glen are being controlled by their everyday products as well.
The food they eat, the music they listen to, and the beauty products they use. All things that are popular within the American Black community.
We first learn that the popular fried chicken restaurant that the people of Glen frequent is chock full of a laughing compound that causes whoever is eating it to laugh hysterically.
It produces this false sense of joy and ease despite how uneasy the world may be around them in actuality.
Another product that we learn is spiked by “them,” the all-seeing, controlling, watchful eyes of Glen is the hair perm.
Hair straightening perm is a product unique to the black community because of our kinky, coily hair. Perm is produced and advertised to “tame” and straighten out often unruly hair.
The perm in this film however is also laced with this mind-controlling compound that soothes the recipient’s minds from questioning the errors of the world around them.
Instead of noticing and focusing on the irregularities of their community, the perm seeps into their mind causing them to blindly accept their crooked community as it is.
The grape juice that they sip during their Sunday worship is spiked with this mind-numbing compound as well.
And the music that they listen to can move them to act in any way that “The Eyes” see fit.
If they want to create chaos, they have music for that. If they want to incite violence, there’s a track for that too. If they want blind obedience, best believe they have the beats to make that happen.
The people of Glen are just pawns for a big experiment and these mind-controlling substances are used to neutralize anyone’s suspicions about how screwed up their reality really is.
If no one questions their less-than-ideal reality, then “The Eyes” can continue to experiment on the community without fear of rebellion.
The Clones Explained
Now that we know how the compound is being used in traditionally black products to ease any thoughts of rebellion, let’s talk about how the clones play a role in controlling the society of Glen.
This brings up the discussion of how certain prominent roles and figures in society work to keep people from progressing.
Throughout the film, we learn that the main character, Fontaine the drug dealer, is one of many clones, and Slick Charles, the pimp, is also one of many clones. However, Yo-Yo, the prostitute is not a clone.
Why is that?
Well, pimps are the ones who make prostitutes. As a prostitute, Yo-yo is a victim of her society.
And with Fontaine being a drug lord, he’s in a position to create more drug dealers, which creates more war, violence, rivalry, and death.
So these figures in society, influence and pollute the people around them giving them a lot of power to determine the safety and progress of those people.
“The Eyes” decided to clone the prominent figures in society like the pimps, the drug dealers, and the pastors because of their influence on the economy. On the way people think and how people decide how they want to live.
They’re influential people who can often abuse their power to the detriment of those around them.
As long as people are abusing their power and using it to subdue others, that community, and society won’t progress forward.
And a stagnant society is one that is less likely to rebel against the shortcomings of their world making them complacent to the experiments that the powers that be are using them for.
The regressed society also keeps outsiders from entering the community, making it easier for experimentation to continue without any hindrances or complaints.
The Racial Experiment Explained
We keep seeing strange hints throughout the film concerning subduing the minds of the citizens of Glen and cloning key individuals who will continually keep the condition of Glen’s people subpar.
What is the point of controlling all these black people specifically?
And why are there so many different versions of Fontaine on both the side of Glen’s community and also on the side of the powers that be?
So, it turns out that the initial creator of this inhumane experiment is actually the visual prototype for Fontaine. Because he is not a clone, he has aged regularly.
The original, older Fontaine reveals that he decided to take on this experiment to try to find a way to turn black people into white people.
As a black man, he believes that if he was white, as well as his family, his brother would have never suffered the police violence that took his brother’s life. He believes, “Assimilation is better than annihilation.”
If everyone were the same, then there would be no racism and therefore, fewer unjust deaths.
The original Fontaine and his team are still working on the correct formula and continue to experiment on black people. One of the lab techs that we see earlier in the film looks like a white man with a very black afro – one of the examples of the failed experiment.
So the use of hair perm and all that is to make black people into white people.
We also learn at the end of the movie that they’re not just doing this experiment in one black community in the world but in other places in America, they’re using the same clone formula to control and subdue black people.
Hence the title of the film, They Cloned Tyrone.
John Bo-motherflipping-yega!! I had so many praises for him throughout my notes. John Boyega is a CHAMELEON. Truly distinguished as an actor.
He very convincingly brought all different flavors of American Black culture to the table while being a British Black man. He ate and left no crumbs with every variation of Fontaine and every variation of Tyrone. Absolutely impressed with all that this man can do.
Jamie Foxx was also a standout in this film. A great comedic presence and an overly confident yet slightly insecure pimp.
Teyonah Parris did her thing as Yo-yo, bringing sass and humor.
The focal trio was perfectly picked and had an amazing chemistry together.
The humor of this film was absolutely spot on. So many laugh-out-loud moments, my favorite being when the rival drug dealers were practicing their lines for how to manipulate “The Eyes.”
They were running lines like they were doing an audition tape and one of them was encouraging the other saying, “That’s it, Denzel!”
“Training Day or Book of Eli?”
“Book of Eli.”
“F**k! Run it again.”
When I tell you, I was FLOORED.
The film also had a very vintage, grainy, sort of 90’s style of cinematography which fit nicely with the almost Spike Lee vibes of the atmosphere.
The film never established a time period which I believe was an intentional choice since the issues that this film addresses are as old as time.
There were some plot points that didn’t make much sense but are overlookable given the lighthearted, not-too-serious vibes of the film.
The first one is that when Fontaine faked his death, did they not confirm that his heartbeat had stopped before putting him in a body bag? The whole plan would’ve been ruined if they had ensured his death before releasing a new clone of him into the world.
Also, when they permed Yo-yo’s “hair” I was surprised that they didn’t realize she was wearing a wig before applying the perm.
These holes in the experimenter’s logic make it harder to believe that they had the initial wit needed to get this far with an experiment this complex in the first place.
Their security was easily breached and they were easily overtaken by the city of Glen the moment they were found out.
They Cloned Tyrone is a conspiracy theorist’s dream. It takes all of the oddities in society and draws up an out-of-this-world theory of “what if?” It creates this fun roller coaster ride that is genuinely a blast to embark on without piling on white guilt or feelings of black inferiority.
It’s fun and makes you think about the structure of society. What can be and may be used to keep people subdued yet it doesn’t become preachy or depressing. Rather thought-provoking, lighthearted, a little silly, and a lot of fun.
With a stellar cast, stellar story, and stellar direction, They Cloned Tyrone is a movie that begs for more and if there is a part two, I’m already there.
What did you think of They Cloned Tyrone? Let me know in the comments below!
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Peace, love, and lots of popcorn,