Main website header

The Tragic Negro in Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 Total Recall

June 22, 2011

My seventeen year old and I sat down to watch Total Recall on the Sci Fi channel recently. I'd already filled his head up with how wonderful this retro movie was and about how it was considered to have pushed the envelope with special effects and visual interests.  As we munched down on popcorn, I relived watching the movie in  the theatre. The excitement and anticipation was high until I got to the part with the tragic Negro. Does anybody remember him? I wanted to claw my eyes out.

We all remember Benny, the tragic Negro, who had "five kids to feed." My blood started to boil. I remembered Benny being cool. I remember Benny being smooth. I remember being enamored with Benny. But, in my old age Benny was a complete turn off. Could Benny remove his gold tooth so he'd have money to pay for his kids? Sorry, that was uncalled for. It wasn't Benny's fault. He kept saying it over and over and over. Sheesh! Couldn't Hollywood give him another line?


I'm thinking in the 90s, I was so starved to see any person of color in a large SciFi movie that I was willing to settle for anything especially Benny.  Mel Johnson Jr. is actually a terrific actor and has gone on to do great things. I'm proud of his accomplishments.  Unfortunately, it was his role as Benny that gave rise to his career. Back then, there were only a few roles for African-Americans and thug (even a mutant thug) was one of them. As I think about Benny, I'm reminded of both how far we've come and how far we've still have to go.

[the traitorous Benny shoots George/Kuato]
Melina: How can you do this? You're a mutant. 
Benny: [shrugs] I got four kids to feed.
Douglas Quaid: So what happened to number five? 
Benny: [beat tone] Aw, shit, man! You got me. I'm not even married. Now, put your fuckin' hands in the air!


Well, at least Benny's one line ended being sort of cool in the end.  So, does anybody else remember Benny?  Did you think he was cool then? Looking for people to weigh-in. "Man, I got five kids to feed!"  LOL!

Sign Up for my Newsletter


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 comments on “The Tragic Negro in Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 Total Recall”

  1. I remember Benny - that treacherous mf. He fit right in with Total Recall’s chilling premise that nothing and no one was what they seemed to be at first. Multiple viewing of the film let you in on it’s weird, little secret; absolutely nothing in the film can trusted - not even its sugary-sweet happy ending. Did they really free Mars or was it all just a dream?

Legal Information

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links (at no additional cost to you).
Click on Privacy Policy to see how we use your information when you visit the site.
© Alicia McCalla – All Rights Reserved | Website design by EMB Web Designs